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Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature


David Rothstein


The relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff can be examined within Jacques Lacan's theories of the Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real. Initially formed in early childhood, their relationship bears similarities to the relationship of a parent and child, in which the child identifies with the parent. However, the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff is much more unstable than a Lacanian parent-child identification, as both children construct their identities in terms of the other. Bronte's novel is allows Cathy and Heathcliff to return to their Imaginary identification after death, demonstrating a radical revisualization of Lacan's stages. The 1992 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights chooses to emphasize the romantic elements of the novel over issues of identification. The result is an oversimplification of the novel.