“He is more myself than I am”

He is more myself than I am“, what a romantic expression, such a pity Heathcliff didn’t hear a single word of the final part of the conversation his Catherine was having with Neally Dean:

«So he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same». (Wuthering Heights)

No, in fact, he will never know it, as having being deeply wounded by Catherine’s previous statement: “I will degrade myself by marrying Heathcliff”, that hot-headed man rushes away without thinking twice and disappears in the night. Had he been a little less hasty, had he let his reason control his overflowing emotions, he would have given his love a chance and spared us a lot of drama; but he did not. However, would those words have had the power to cool down his spirits? Actually, they require a little pondering to be fully understood, and as we know that pondering is not exactly in Heathcliff’s nature, we will analyse them for him.

So, what does Catherine mean, when she says that Heathcliff is more herself that she is. These are striking words about the intensity of her love for him, that, somehow, surpass the universally acknowledged metaphor of those ” halves” Plato refers in his Symposium:

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves…….and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment…Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.” (The Symposium)

Love, hence, is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete. However, for Catherine, Heathcliff is not simply her natural other half, he is more:

“Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don’t talk of our separation again: it is impracticable;…” (Wuthering Heights)

So Heathcliff is not part of her, it is her, hence, she feels there cannot be a separation between the two. He is always there, in her mind and in her soul as a haunting presence, therefore, Plato’s interpretation of the nature of love cannot do for this case.

Maybe the archetypes of animus, anima and persona could help us understand. For Jung the persona is the outer or social self that faces the world. The animus is the archetype that completes women, which contains the male qualities which the female persona lacks, while the anima represents the female traits that a man’s persona lacks. The individual is rarely aware of his anima/her animus, which Jung defines “demon-familiar” , therefore, obscure, hidden, threatening.

The point is that the animus of a woman and the anima of a man take the form of a “soul-image” in the personal unconscious and when this soul-image is transferred to a real person, the latter naturally becomes the object of intense feelings, which may be passionate love or passionate hate. Wait a minute, so, what we call love and we have narrated, analized, dissected using millions of words for years and years in any part of the world is only a question of the projected soul-image of our animus/anima? I’m disappointed. Hence, Heathcliff cannot be but Catherine’s animus, as she is his anima. They are the projections of their soul-images and this explains their profound sense of connection or identity with each other. They are far more than two matching halves.

If it is so, this would also explains why there are recurrent patterns in our relationships and why we invariably keep on being attracted by the same sort of man or woman: it’s because we fall in love with the projection of our anima/animus. Consequently, if we are so unlucky to feel the charm of the womanizer type, no matter how disappointed we could be, we’ll keep on being seduced by that sort man. How can we avoid Catherine’s fate, therefore? Letting our survival instinct help us, or better, let’s call it experience. So next time an Edgar Linton’s type shows up, we’ll be clever enough to put to bed “our demon lover”, lock the door, and give the man a real chance.

To Flavia,”one of those girls who venture living of mad pulses, fill their failings with carbs and fall in love with idiots.”

 

24 thoughts on ““He is more myself than I am”

    • I am sorry Plato was wrong, it might have been easier to look for our other half than having to deal with an “obscure animus” (that is particularly unpleasant, in my case, since I had to accept being, deep down in my unconscious, a sort of “idiot” 😂 ). However, surely I am not yet experienced enough, I cannot but smile thinking about that demon-familiar I see so bright, although I will learn how to give that “real chance”, eventually. By now, I enjoy accepting being shattered by love and finding it the most beautiful feeling that can be found, the Love that is inseparability and intimacy, as well as a great bump on the head.
      Thank you❤

  1. I reread WH some years back, and was shocked by Heathcliffe. What a monster. He’s all self and wounded pride. I found it hard to name his tangle of emotions as love, mainly because we value love as giving and open and willing to brave all the hurt for. He wasn’t, he snatched, sulked and demanded; he was cowardly in many respects.
    How did he get his money in the interim? Not honestly, or legally, you can safely bet. A lovable villain, then? .Not even that.

    • Oh, Heathcliff is such a complex character that has become the object of many interpretations, even Jungian and Freudian. Heathcliff and Catherine live constantly in a state of unfulfilled desire that drives them crazy, makes them suffer terribly and act as persecutors at the same time.

      • That captures it perfectly – an evolving situation? Or a circling one? See who cracks first?
        There was a theory going the rounds decades ago that Branwell contributed to WH (a famous woman writer suggested it). I can imagine the beginning, with the visitor and his blackly funny interlude with the dogs being his kind of thing.

  2. Hi there Mrs. Tink. Long time no see. A very interesting read and what I got out of it is that human nature doesn’t change. You talked about “experience”, to not make the mistakes these two made, but again human nature…..hard to change it. I actually would do the same as Heathcliff.
    You actually analyzed this so good you should get into a machine, go back to the past and become relationship counselor of that time. Poor guy Heathcliff. You have been to harsh with the guy. I liked how you ended the post “To Flavia…….falls in love with idiots”. Ouch!

    • Hi, Charly, nice to have you here. Poor Heathcliff!?!?!!I could bet you liked the guy! I’m glad you enjoyed the final words, they belong to Flavia and that is how she feels at this stage of her life. She’ll learn how to manage these things, she is not yet 18, after all, she’s got all the time.🙋

      • I would probably become good friends with the Heathcliff. So Flavia not 18 yet…. she’ll learn, hopefully sooner than later. And also hopefully she doesn’t become much of cynical person, there are good people out there, few, but there are.

  3. I’ve yet to read Emily’s novel but am currently enjoying Jane Eyre, so Wuthering Heights may be next — if I don’t get distracted by my copy of Anne’s Wildfell Hall first…

    Incidentally you might be amused by the Brontë spoilers in this WordPress post: https://wp.me/p1Mobn-Uu

    • Loved it !😂😂😂 Even if I have been a little distracted these days ( well, months🤔), I read and did enjoy one of your old posts on the subject: “Yorkshire lasses”. Truly intriguing. Looking forward to reading your reviews about the “lasses”so, now that you’ve put aside those witches. 🙋 😉

  4. So, we can talk about anima and animus, but let’s look at life . . . real life.

    People seem attracted more to the outward person than the inner person. This is observable — in very public and often vivid details — in celebrity marriages. Those might be driven more by publicity (the two most attractive people are “expected” to hook up — only to split up shortly thereafter).

    While we call those exceptions, it’s hard to deny that scenario mirrors the behavior of people from all walks of life. If one takes the cynical view (as one might) you can say it has zero to do with “animas” and more to do with physical features which — as we now know — has more to do with evolution than spiritual closeness. Let’s remember that like all animals, we’re driven by reproductive urges (well, not all but what seems to be a large percentage of the population).

    Then, there’s another thing (also related to evolution) . . . there are two aspects to the reproductive drive; one is finding an ideal physical specimen to ensure viability and improved chances of survival but, closely related, is the longer-term concern, and these days (like many olden days) this means being able to provide security in the form of shelter and food. It’s why odious people with money can find mates.

    I know, I know . . . I’m taking all the romance out of the equation . . . except that I’m not.

    I just believe there are fewer “romantic couplings” than people realize, hence the high divorce rate, especially after the reproductive drive is satisfied and the two people have to focus on each other without the overarching responsibility of child-rearing and support.

    So, let’s look at the novel with different eyes . . . it’s a conflict between animal lust (disguised as a bull-droppings desire for “oneness”) and the security of a loving provider lacking in physical prowess.

    What annoys me is that the woman is just as odious as the person she lusts after. Dare I say selfish? Duplicitous? Childish? Immature? Superficial? Mentally unstable?

    Well, what do you know? Maybe they are soulmates.

    Side note: I’m not sure how to characterize people who like this novel, or the characters, or anything at all about this tale. I’m not thinking negative thoughts, mind you; I just fail to understand the impetus for reading such a story. I mean, who do you identify with?

    • My cynical Emilio, look is important , of course, but at the beginning of a relationship. As far as my own “story” is concerned, I have come to realize that the “mates” of my life have always had some aspects in common, a pattern, which is exactly what I unconsciously seek in a man, I believe. I like to explain that wih the animus theory.
      But I agree with you about the novel. There is a very good start, in my opinion, but it grows boring and boring and there is not a single character I could indentify with, not one.
      🙋

    • Cynical? You mean, realist, I’m sure.

      As much as I would like to believe in soulmates (I often call Melisa such), it’s hard to justify the thinking for two reasons:
      1) as most people know, I’m soulless.
      2) Melisa and I are different in almost any personality aspect one cares to measure. Not that I believe it (although I secretly wish it were so), but I’m told I’m practically an alien (as in outer space invader) in personality, behavior, and beliefs.

      I’ll grant you we (Melisa and me) share a level of intellect and ethics (honesty, belief in doing the right thing, compassion, etc.) but no one talks those virtues when describing mate selection and, indeed, there was no interview establishing those facts prior to commitment; all I told her is that I’m a difficult person to deal with. It took very little time (I’m talking less than a month) for us to decide we’d spend our life together. We got married four years later (after we graduated) and have been married for 43 years. Had you asked me just prior, I’d have said (based on relationships I’d seen) that I had no intention of settling down with anyone as I didn’t see the upside.

      We do have one thing in common; we both read people very well. Not infallibly, mind you, but pretty reliably, and maybe that’s the key.

      In that respect, we’re often baffled at couples we see; we wonder how they stay together or what their bond is. Clearly, some relationships are not based on being a perfect match or even “love”, but driven by other needs . . . and that adds to my cynica . . . er . . . realistic view of the issue.

      • What makes a couple last, Emilio, is exactly what you wrote: you share a level of intellects, ethics…….even if you have different personalities and, in my opinion, that difference is intriguing. 43 years, and you still talk about your wife in this way, and it is not the first time, I’ m quite temped to call you romantic. Should I refrain?

      • Nope; I own up to it . . . romantic, in an intellectual way. I have this vague notion that it’s got something to do with my quasi-Italian ancestry but having met many Italians, I’ve not seen what I would call ideal mates or behavior I approve of. However, being fair to Italians, it’s the same for most men.

        But, then again, I’m not an expert on what women want; worst, having been brainwashed by trashy literature, I sometimes think many women don’t know what they want and get hurt finding out.

        I can’t recall if you’ve read my romance post, but nearly everything I write has shades of romance in it.

        If you have nothing better to do:
        https://dispersertracks.com/2015/03/17/romance/

        And, if you’re really bored, this pair of Second Person POV stories (same story from a man’s and then the woman’s POV):

        https://dispersertracks.com/2016/01/24/a-second-person-pov-self-challenge/

        https://dispersertracks.com/2016/01/24/redux-a-second-person-pov-self-challenge/

        That second one is my guess of what goes on in the mind of a woman; admittedly, one I made up, so I don’t know how much I got right. And yes, heavy thematic leaning on the soulmate concept.

        I use soulmate in the romance post in reference to my wife; let me be clear that what I object to is the traditional interpretation of the concept, the separated anima that must reunite. Imagine, if you will, the chances of running into the “other half” on a world with 7+ billion people spread over 190,900,000 square miles (with volcanoes adding to the number and rising sea levels reducing it).

        By the way, one of the things people find weird about Melisa and me (but not the only thing) . . . we are hardly ever apart, including (for 20 years) when working. We rarely do things on our own. If one of us is going somewhere (running errands, hobby-related trips, shopping) the other one tags along. Weird, uh?

  5. I’ve never connected the Platonic idea of searching for your “other half” with Wuthering Heights before. You make a well-argued case for why we keep making the same mistake. There is also a line of thought that Cathy loves her child more than Heathcliff and returns as a ghost to stop him eating and thus prevent him from making the will that would disinherit young Catherine. Not as romantic, but I do like a ghost story.

    • Well, it is more than Platonic, as Heathcliff , for Catherine, represents more than that half as she will say, in fact, “I am Heathcliff”, hence the Jungian theory of “animus” in her case, is more fitting.
      Thanks for dropping by.
      Cheers
      Stefy🙋

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