So, I had to write a paper on the conflict of the extraordinary and the ordinary in my British literature class. I decided to write on Heathcliff and Edgar Linton from Wuthering Heights. As a huge fan of the book, I really tried to dig deeper than I have before between Catherine’s love with Edgar and her love with Heathcliff. Catherine believed her love with Edgar and her life with him would be extraordinary due to the elegance and sophistication of the Lintons. However, Catherine found herself continually drawn back to the savage, passionate being that is Heathcliff. I firmly believe Heathcliff and Catherine are soul mates but her inability to choose between what her socially-conscious mind was telling her and what her soul was telling her caused her to be torn between both houses and both men. Those two relationships are complete opposites just like the estates of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. As I was writing this paper, I couldn’t help but think of somewhat modern-day instances of this epic love triangle. I’m Team Heathcliff and Catherine and I always find myself rooting for the couples that best represent the two.
NOTE: Some of these examples may be broad but the parallels are there.
1. Gossip Girl’s Chuck and Blair
When we first meet Chuck and Blair, Blair is a bitch, selfish, and sometimes shallow Upper East Sider. Chuck is the consummate bad boy with a superior intelligence for scheming and an impeccable sense of style. In the beginning, Blair is with Nate, her first Edgar Linton. Nate was high-society Upper East Side and lived the beautiful life of the rich. However, Nate’s fixation on BFF Serena and somewhat meh attitude causes her to be drawn to the unpredictable, alluring Chuck. As much as they try to deny it, they are physically and emotionally drawn to one another. Here are some instances where the Heathcliff and Catherine parallels show up:
1×08 “Seventeen Candles”
While Blair is preoccupied with Nate making it to her birthday party (he doesn’t) and giving her the perfect gift, it’s Chuck who gives her a GORGEOUS necklace. He even sort of admits her feelings for her. This was the beginning of Blair noticing something extraordinary in Chuck.
2×01 “Summer, Kind of Wonderful”
This has Heathcliff and Catherine written ALL OVER IT. After Chuck leaves Blair hanging at the airport at the start of summer, Blair moves on with Prince Marcus (another sort of Edgar). Chuck tries to thwart Blair’s relationship with Marcus but this scene proves there is something unexplainable between the two, this dark passion that consumes them both. They both can’t admit to those 3 words, 8 letters just yet.
3×17 “Inglourious Bassterds”
Chuck’s destructive, nasty side comes out when he chooses to trade Blair to his uncle for the Empire hotel. This really parallels Catherine and Heathcliff because this was such an emotionally violent instance in the Chuck/Blair relationship.
End of season 3/Beginning of season 4
Chuck runs off to Europe and gets shot. He is rescued by a young, beautiful woman named Eva. He pretty much lives the life of an early Heathcliff…a plain commoner. Chuck and Blair have their moment at the train station and their worlds stop. It was a beautiful, tender scene where Chuck believes Blair would be better off without Chuck in it. Then Blair says it: “It wouldn’t be my world without you in it.” THIS IS HEATHCLIFF AND CATHERINE YOU GUYS. Just like when Catherine confesses to Nelly: “If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.”
Blair attempts to move on from Chuck with Prince Louis. He seems to be a perfect fairy tale prince who Blair will live an extraordinary life with. However, she can’t shake Chuck. She undeniably belongs to her dark prince. What she thought would be extraordinary turns out to be anything but…even though the marriage was a bust there was no denying that Chuck was the one she wished was at the altar with her…the one thing truly extraordinary in her life amidst the riches is her love for Chuck.
Chuck and Blair have evolved from their scheming, selfish ways and now are committed to truly being together. Blair has made her choice unlike Catherine she chose her soul mate. She knows it won’t be easy but anything is better than life without him.
2. The Vampire Diaries’ Damon and Elena
Damon is EXTREMELY similar to Heathcliff. Like, the similarities are unreal. They are both Byronic heroes in their lives: arrogance, cynical, self-destructive, the outcast. At first, Damon was obsessed with finding Katherine and taking revenge on Stefan but he grew so much within two seasons. There is no questioning that Elena (Catherine) loves Stefan (Edgar), she even chose him over Damon but she also has this undeniable pull for Damon. She even says that she can’t “shake him” and that he “consumes her”. Damon is willing to do anything for her, even to die for her. Elena really isn’t all that similar to Catherine, Elena isn’t self-absorbed or bitchy. The only time I ever think she is selfish is when she uses Damon and his feelings for her to get what she wants. Actually, it’s Katherine Pierce who is the most like Catherine Earnshaw.
The strongest connection the Heathcliff and Catherine that I’ve seen Elena have is in 2×01 “The Return”
Just like when Heathcliff overhears Catherine telling Nelly that she will marry Edgar because it would “degrade her to marry Heathcliff” and then Heathcliff says FUCK THIS and leaves, Damon does the same thing. Damon is told by Katherine AND Elena that “it’s always going to be Stefan.” He literally loses it. He knows the only way to deal with Elena’s choice (and Katherine’s in a way) is to make her hate him. He snaps Jeremy’s neck and gets the hell out. This moment is similar to when Heathcliff calls out to Catherine to haunt him. Even though it isn’t right, being haunted or hated is better than not having them in their life at all.
The whole reason Damon is there in the first place is to get Elena to admit her feelings for him:
“You’re the liar Elena. There is something going on between the two of us and you know it. And you’re lying to me, and you’re lying to Stefan, and most of all you are lying to yourself…”
Doesn’t that sound a whole lot like this from speech from Heathcliff?
“You teach me now how cruel you’ve been—cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy?”
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Elena has yet to truly admit her love for Damon but she will. I believe that it frightens her what she feels for Damon. It’s extraordinary but to her, those feelings scare her at the moment because all she has ever known is Matt and Stefan: safe, content, ordinary. With Damon, even not in a relationship, threatens to break down that wall the Elena has put up. She ultimately wants what Damon says in 3×22: “You want a love that consumes you. You want passion, adventure, and even a little danger.” I’ve said this a thousand times: Stefan is her first love but Damon is her true love.
3. Gone With the Wind’s Rhett and Scarlett
This couple gets an honorary mention because they deserve consideration all on their own. Scarlett is pretty much the 1860s version of Catherine: selfish, shallow but beautiful. She is in love with Ashley (Edgar) and dreams of an extraordinary life with him even though he is uber sophisticated, boring, and loves literature (all of which Scarlett is not…she is SASSY). She literally pines over him the whole book until it is finally made CRYSTAL FUCKING CLEAR that Ashley loves Melanie. Scarlett does however meet her soul mate in Rhett Butler. He challenges her and loves her for who she is even despite her many flaws. It isn’t until the end that Scarlett realizes that it is Rhett who she belongs with but at that point in time Rhett doesn’t give a damn. After Melanie dies, Rhett comes to the same conclusion Heathcliff does when Catherine decides to marry Edgar…that Scarlett still feels Rhett isn’t worthy of her. He walks out into the foggy night just like Heathcliff did. Scarlett realizes too late that what she has with Rhett is extraordinary and that Ashley is ordinary (and that he never has or will love her). God, Ashley was so boring. I do not understand how he could fight in a war…I bet he did a lot of girl-like slapping. What Scarlett has with Rhett is volatile, all-consuming, and passionate and Ashley (aka Edgar) isn’t capable of any of that.
As for me, I’ve never experienced love in either of those forms. I just don’t think I am deserving of it quite yet. I’m also very career-driven and motivated to make something out of my life and the selfish part of me would resent a significant other if I settled and didn’t achieve all that I want achieve on my own first. I also have severely high standards, like there is a list…a long one. The guy who meets those (and trust me, I’m lenient on certain issues) is truly the guy for me. I don’t want to settle for the ordinary, I want the extraordinary and more.