Wuthering Heights Essay, Research Paper
Catherine Earnshaw: Her Relationships and Development
Emily Bronte?s Wuthering Heights is about the relationships between two families and how those relationships affect the members of their families. Catherine Earnshaw is considered a free spirit, but is torn between two worlds. She has to choose between Heathcliff, her childhood and friend, and Edgar Linton, the man who is socially acceptable for her to marry. She grew up at Wuthering Heights, which is considered
Outside the law, outside the codes and forms of restraint imposed by society and civilized values?no limit to their passions, but love and hate with equal intensity, as if gripped by a monomania that will not allow compromise, that cannot heed the voice of reason or even self-preservation (Benvenuto 91).
Catherine has to decide what will be the best choice for her, rather not letting her passionate emotions hinder any decision she may make. Her love for both men ultimately leads to her death. Catherine comments, ? Her love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods?My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath?(65). Catherine Earnshaw is affected in her development by her relationships with Heathcliff, her marriage to Edgar Linton, and her stay at Thrushcross Grange as a child.
Catherine and Heathcliff grew up together. When Catherine was young, her father, Mr.Earnshaw brought home an orphan from Liverpool, whom everyone in the house immediately dislikes because of his vulgar image. Mr. Earnshaw grew to love the boy as a son, as did his daughter. As Mr. Earnshaw began to die, Catherine and Heathcliff begin to grow and closer and their love for each other intensifies. The night Mr. Earnshaw dies they realize how much they need each other, and Catherine especially need their relationship (Winnifrith 657). ?She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from him; yet she got chided more then any of us on this account? (46). This was a great loss for them, Mr. Earnshaw supported their relationship, and he loved Heathcliff. Lockwood found the children in their room, comforting each other,
I saw they had laid down, though it was past midnight; but they were calmer, and did not need me to console them. The little souls were comforting each other with better thoughts than I could have hit on; no parson in the world ever pictured heaven so beautifully as they did, in their innocent talk; and while I sobbed, and listened, I could not help wishing we were all safe together (48).
Heathcliff makes Catherine aware of her ?unique being?, and he helps her to understand her passionate feelings and awakens the romantic thoughts inside her. He satisfies her emotional needs and it is only to he whom Catherine opens up. She shows him all her feelings and hides nothing. Catherine feels comfortable and she can ?release her feelings as strongly as they require to be released, when her feelings are released?that is being Heathcliff? (Benvenult 103). Catherine talks to Nelly about her feelings for Heathcliff, commenting,
I cannot express it?but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you. What was the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here. My great miseries of this world have been Heathcliff?s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living in himself. 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 into a mighty stranger. I should not seem to be a part of it (73-74).
?The self that they share, the experience of being two in one, is beyond language, outside the conventions and limits of speech?the bond of their union?between them there is no barrier?(Benvenult 101). Catherine feels her and Heathcliff have their souls in common and ?whatever our souls are made of?, she says, ?his and mine are the same?he?s more myself then I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same??(82). Catherine and Heathcliff insists that if you are restricted by rules you?re doomed, and is viewed destructive by the Linton?s as they live by restraint (Benvenult 94). The two children are raised side by side, and Heathcliff and Catherine are ?raised virtually as brother and sister, in a vibrant relationship of charity and passion and real or possible metamorphosis?(Van Ghent 78).
Catherine loves Heathcliff, ?it is a part of her?separation from him is out of the question for her?Heathcliff is her inviolable self, as intimate to her as her own self-consciousness?to become one with? (Benvenult 100). Catherine and Heathcliff are very passionate with each other, and they are as essential to each other as our basic needs, such as food and oxygen. The last scene between Catherine and Heathcliff is described by Nelly, and shows just how much they mean to each other:
In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on the arm of the chair. At that earnest appeal, he turned to her, looking absolutely desperate. His eyes were wide and wet at last, flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder; and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive. In fact, to my eyes, she seemed directly insensible. He flung himself into the nearest seat, and on my approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she had fainted, he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with a greedy jealously. I did not feel as if I was in the company of a creature of my own species? (134).
Catherine?s older brother Hindley returns home from his father?s funeral and brings a wife. The children aren?t tended to very well, giving Catherine and Heathcliff the freedom to roam the moors. One night they decide to go the Thrushcross Grange to look into the windows and make fun of the Linton children. Their dog chases after the intruders and bites Catherine?s ankle as they run away. Edgar Linton sees Catherine?s foot and tells his mother, ?Skuler has caught a little girl, sir?, he replied, ?and there?s a lad here?, he added, making a clutch at me, ?who looks and out-and-outer?that?s Mrs. Earnshaw! He whispered to his mother, ?and look how Skuler has bitten her-how her foots bleeds!?(53).
Catherine?s confinement to the Grange ?changed and
socialized her-made her aware of the identity she has for and in
her society?. When she returns to the Heights she has grown up
in a way Heathcliff has not, and has been exposed to values
Heathcliff cannot share. She has needs and wishes for things
Healthcliff cannot relate to, and they are now on different
levels (Benvenult 99).
She stayed at Thrushcross Grange for five weeks, until
Christmastime. Her ankle healed nicely, and she had assimilated
herself into the Linton family.
By that time her ankle was thoroughly improved and her manners much improved. The mistress visited her often in the interval, and commenced her plan of reform by trying to raise her self-respect with fine clothes and flattery, which she took readily; so that, instead of a wild, hatless little savage jumping into the house, rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there lighted from a handsome black pony to a very dignified person, with brown midget ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was obliged to hold in both hand that she might sail in (55).
Catherine is very ?savagely petulant? when she does not get her way and exactly what she wants. She displays snobbery and shallowness, which is a result of her luxurious stay at Thrushcross Grange (Winnifrith 53). ?Catherine sat up late, having a world of things to order for the reception of her new friends; she came into the kitchen to speak to her old one, but he was gone, and she stayed to ask what was the matter with him and went back?(58-59).
Catherine also dismissed Heathcliff after she had stayed with the Linton?s.
Catching a glimpse of her friend in his concealment, she flew to embrace him, she bestowed seven or eight kisses on is cheek within the second, and then stopped, then drawing back, burst into a laugh exclaiming, ?Why how very cross and black you look! -and how funny and grim! But that?s because I am used to Edgar and Isabella Linton?. She had some reason to put the question, for shame and pride threw double gloom over his countenance, and kept him immovable (56-57).
When Catherine was fifteen years old, she transferred her interest from the wild Heathcliff to the sophisticated Edgar Linton. He meets the social standards and is the type of husband that Catherine is generally supposed to be marrying (Leavis 55). Catherine knows that his is what is socially expected of her, and tires of Heathcliff easily now, as she knows they will never marry and her new attitudes takeover. ?In the place where she had heard Heathcliff termed a ?vulgar young ruffian? and ?worse than a brute?, she took care not to act like him; but at home she had small inclination to practise politeness that would only be laughed at and restrain an unruly nature when it would bring her neither credit nor praise (69).
Catherine Earnshaw trades in the freedom of Wuthering Heights for the ?restraint of Thrushcross Grange, and becomes an exile?the Grange is Catherine?s prison?(Benvenult 93).
?Suppose at twelve years old, I had been wrenched from the Heights, and every early association, and my all in all, as Heathcliff was at that time had been converted into a stroke into Mrs. Linton, the lady of Thrushcross Grange, and the wife of a stranger: an exile, and an outcast, thenceforth, from what had been my world- You may fancy a glimpse of the abyss where I groveled! (124)
As Catherine grows older and marries Edgar Linton, she has to deal with the confusion created by the turmoil of feelings surrounding her relationships with Heathcliff and Edgar. She becomes a ?battleground between the two houses. This wears her down and confuses her to the point where the difference between the Grange and the Heights is undistinguishable?(Benvenult 82). Catherine likes to be in charge. She wants to ?prove her power? over men, and have men at her whim, doing as she says. She used emotional and physical violence in order to gain more control (Allsands 4).
Catherine is in a state of inner division, the memory of her old self, before her marriage to Linton always seems to comes back to haunt her. ?Why am I so changed? Catherine asks, ?I wish I were a girl again, half savage, and hardy and free? (107).
Heathcliff and Catherine, who should be happy in their relationship with one another, are except at ?odd moments in fundamental disagreements, Catherine imagines, and is forever happy in her illusion, that she can preserve the constitutional marriage with Edgar and her total love for Heathcliff. Catherine maintains that the reappearance of Heathcliff has reconciled her to God and humanity? (Winnifrith 56). Catherine feels that her love for Heathcliff can be spoken as an ?eternal foundation beneath her marriage with Edgar?(Benvenult 99).
Catherine taunts her husband by subjecting him to Heathcliff when he returns after three years.
?If you do not have the courage to attack him, make an apology or allow yourself to be beaten. It will not correct you of feigning more valour then you possess. No, I?ll swallow the key and you shall get it. I?m delightfully rewarded for my kindness to each! After constant indulgence of one?s weak nature and the other?s bad one, learn, for thanks, two samples of blind ingratitude, stupid to absurdity! Edgar, I was defending you and yours; and I wish Heathcliff might flog you sick, for daring to think an evil thought of me! (114).
Heathcliff is the obstacle in her marriage. She loves Heathcliff, not only because of the attraction, but because he is more herself than she is. Unfortunately, it would degrade her too much to marry him. Heathcliff feels very strongly for Catherine, and he is obsessed with her, somewhat ruing her life (Winnifrith 53).
I have heard of your marriage, Cathy, not long since; and, while, wating in the yard below, I meditated this plan: -just to have a glimpse of your face, a stare of surprise perhaps, and pretended pleasure?nay, you will just drive me off again?I?ve since fought through a bitter life since I last heard your voice, and you must forgive me, for I?ve struggled only for you! (97).
Catherine Earnshaw is affected in her life by her relationships with Heathcliff, her marriage to Linton and her stay at Thrushcross Grange as a child. These factors influence her life, and all her relationships with others.