Question: In many ways, Wuthering Heights structures itself around matched, contrasting pairs of themes and of characters. What are some of these pairs, and what role do they play in the book?
There are many different pairs used throughout "Wuthering Heights": the two houses, two families with largely identical family trees, two generations, and indeed the two separate halves of the novel, divided by Catherine's death. However, arguably the most important use of twinning or pairing in Wuthering Heights is in the various brother/sister relationships, formed in childhood. From the moment Heathcliff becomes settled at the Heights, these pairs are established. The first of these, and the least central to the story, consists of Hindley and Ellen. Ellen’s mother was Hindley’s wet-nurse, so they share the bond of mother’s milk. This appears to have been the basis of a lifelong connection, illustrated by Ellen’s reference to Hindley as her “foster brother” and her notable sorrow at his death. The second pairing, and that which drives the novel, is that of Catherine and Heathcliff. While their bond does include elements which go far beyond a “normal” brother-sister relationship, it is also largely non-sexual, and it should be noted that during their childhoods (prior to the introduction of the Lintons) they were siblings and playfellows before anything else. The third brother/sister pair is comprised of Edgar and Isabella Linton.
An interesting point is that all three of these pairs are physically divided during the course of the novel, but that the connections established during childhood continue to flourish despite these separations. Hindley and Ellen are split first when he is sent to college, and later due to her employment at the Grange and his isolation and degeneration at the Heights. Their connection, however, remains strong, as evinced by Nelly’s especial grief at his death....