chapter  7
20 Pages

Impossible Love and Commodity Culture in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights

WithDaniela Garofalo

This chapter considers the function of Heathcliff in a capitalist culture by reading through the frame of Lockwood's tourist gaze. It then examines how Heathcliff represents a particularly Victorian desire for consumption and production associated with loss, an association that makes him not the anachronistic other of modernity, but its most seductive avatar. Finally, it examines the challenge posed by Catherine's demand for love without loss through the lens of Lacanian psychoanalytic claims about the radical effects of a kind of love that defes the reality principle. Most critics have argued that, in Emily Bront's Wuthering Heights (1847), Heathcliff betrays his commitment to love by turning to revenge even though that revenge reveals the violence that underlies the most genteel forms of capitalist accumulation. The chapter also argues that Heathcliff's form of love is not the inassimilable other of capitalism, but functions, on the contrary, as a necessary fantasy that energizes a culture of both production and consumption.