Wuthering Heights Essay, Research Paper
In Emily Bront s Wuthering Heights, Catherine and Heathcliff never enjoy happiness in each other s arms because she refuses to marry a lowly gypsy. Her aristocratic views on marriage would not allow her to wed someone below her social status. Her decision was to marry Edgar Linton who is the ideal husband: the rich, noble, light hair, fair skinned, privileged gentleman. Catherine dies regretting forsaking Heathcliff s passionate love for her. She cannot repent for her sins, but the errors of the first generation are redeemed in the second specifically through her daughter Cathy Linton. The two have very similar traits and are faced with similar obstacles, but the second generation is able to enact the life that should have been Catherine s. Cathy Linton is Catherine Earnshaw reborn, without the tragic flaws that ruined her the first time.
Cathy is a parallel, though toned-down, version of her mother. Both find Penistone Craggs an intriguing place and in their youths, would steal away whenever they get the chance. Cathy was more level-headed that her mother ever was. Cathy is never found soaking wet from the rain nor does she ever throw temper tantrums like Catherine does. Cathy is certainly just as brave and firm in her convictions.. She stands up to Heathcliff s villainy as much as she can and Catherine rebels against anyone who stands in her way since she is the mistress of the household. Cathy has Catherine s strengths, but lacks most of her mother s flaws such as an ungovernable temper and spiteful tendencies. On the other hand, Cathy, lacking her mother s fierceness, is incapable of loving anyone as passionately as Catherine loves Heathcliff.
Catherine and Cathy are both adventurous and drawn to the unknown, but their curiosity proves to be their downfall. If Catherine and Heathcliff had never wandered to the Lintons, she would never have been attacked by the dogs patrolling the grounds. Her subsequent stay to heal from her wounds introduced Catherine to a world of luxury and indulgence she had never even dreamed of. From then on, she was obsessed with obtaining that lifestyle and deemed herself worthy of nothing less. Based on this, she found it would degrade her to marry Heathcliff. With Cathy, it is almost a complete reversal of Catherine s situation. Cathy s yearning to explore outside Thrushcross Grange leads her to Wuthering Heights. There she gets caught up in the intrigue of the place and her interest in the well-being of Linton causes her to be taken from her privileged life to the desolate lifestyle that surrounds Heathcliff.
Catherine s pride and selfishness deal great harm to those who love her. Her affections drift towards those who spoil her most. She confesses that she loves Edgar because he is handsome and has money. Catherine even tells Nelly that she does not marry another handsome gentleman because they are out of her way (78). Her fancy for Edgar is a result of her desire to be spoiled and pampered. She does not care for who Edgar really is, only that he is pleasant to look at and will inherit a fortune. Catherine s self-centered nature drives her to a marriage based on materialism which in turn, breaks Heathcliff s heart.
Edgar s sensitivity and tenderness brought up a kind young lady who lacked her mother s self-interest. Cathy loved her father more than anything and put his happiness before her own. She hates for anyone to think ill of her, excluding the residents of Wuthering Heights, and would cry tears of regret if she thought she had hurt someone s feelings. Her kindness extended to the undeserving Linton despite the fact that her tears annoyed him, rather than provoke sympathy. Though she is the little mistress of the Linton home, her indulgent lifestyle never causes Cathy to be a stubborn brat like her mother often was.
Though there are distinct differences between mother and daughter, Cathy s naivet and pride cause her to make poor marriage decisions like Catherine did. She is as guilty of being shallow as her mother for the way she treats Hareton, regardless the knowledge that they are cousins. She takes a liking to Linton and deems him worthy of being called her cousin because he is well-dressed and well-spoken. Cathy does not know what real love is and wholeheartedly believes that Linton loves her. While Cathy does love Linton, her sheltered life renders her incapable of conceiving the notion that Linton is entirely selfish and holds no true affection for her. To him, she is a form of amusement whom he later uses to escape the wrath of Heathcliff. If she does not agree with him, he tells her that she is awful towards him, but if she tries to leave, he feigns great pain to get her to stay. Linton uses his illness as a means to exploit Cathy s good will and toys with her emotions like a cat and a ball of string. She is too na ve to see that he does not care about her needs at her. Cathy, under coercion, marries Linton with the belief that she will still be moderately happy since they love each other. She brutally dismisses any attempt at friendship from Hareton, the one person there who cares about her, because her noble status refuses to let her consort with such a lowly individual the same mistake her mother made. When Linton dies, she is left all alone with only the misery and hatred that have engulfed Wuthering Heights.
The fact that Cathy is a pale version of Catherine continually reminds the reader that if Catherine had not such a savage, reckless nature, she would not have made her tragic mistakes. Catherine s fatal flaw is not that she does not marry of true love because both Catherine and Cathy do the same. The biggest tragedy is that Catherine lets her fiery temperament overwhelm her after Edgar and Heathcliff fight. In her attempt to break their hearts, she broke her own. When her true love sneaks in to visit her, she is so overwrought by her emotions that she dies. In contrast, after Linton dies, Cathy is numb and feels no sensation other the death. It takes a while for the surrounding melancholy to consume her, but finding the gentleman in Hareton allows her to reclaim her former grace and warmth in order to love again.
Cathy is not only a parallel character of Catherine, she is a continuation of her mother s life. There is never a tangible relationship between Catherine and her daughter; one dies while the other is born. The two never interact, but their behavior patterns are so similar imply a continuity in the life of Catherine Earnshaw. Had she survived, Catherine made mistakes with Heathcliff that she could not correct. She bore a child with another man a man who loves her with all his being. The only way out of that marriage is death, and from that death, a new Catherine Earnshaw is born. It is not coincidence that this child bears the same name. Her birth is Catherine s rebirth, giving her a second chance. Catherine s reincarnate bears little mark of the original s uncontrollable disposition. The removal of this blemish on her personality allows Cathy to forgo her pride and marry Hareton. Her resulting happiness draws a picture of what might have been for Catherine if she had not let her arrogance get the better of her.
It must be made clear that there may be other causes for the sharp difference in the fates of Catherine and Cathy, but they do not explain the parallel patterns of behavior. Catherine has Joseph as a servant who attempts to beat religious fanaticism into her head while Cathy merely has the customary Church on Sunday. The strict rules of religion may have tempted Catherine s wildness to explode. Hindley treats Catherine rather harshly after Earnshaw dies while Cathy grows up with everyone admiring her and calling her pet names. However, Catherine eventually attains a pampered lifestyle with Edgar, but she still maintains her obstinacy. Cathy herself is still stubborn with her relentless attempts to contact Linton. When she is forced to move into the Heights, she is still a tenacious young lady who antagonizes Heathcliff as much as his tiny patience can endure. Despite the sharp difference in childhoods of Catherine and Cathy, both still marry for reasons other than real love and neither is truly happy as a result of it.
The difference in upbringing does not seem to effect the paths that Catherine and Cathy take. The two live almost parallel lives until they marry. At that point, two characters lives diverge sharply. Catherine dies after the stress of a quarrel between the two men in her life. Cathy settles into her wretched lifestyle after her father and Linton die. After becoming as hostile as the other residents of the Heights, Nelly s influence warms Cathy s heart enough for her to try to befriend the gruff Hareton. She, unlike Catherine, does not shut herself away completely after her heartbreak. She allows herself to ignore social protocol and fall in love with a man who can barely even read.
Although it is evident that Cathy s decision to marry Hareton is a reflection on Catherine and Heathcliff s relationship and the theme of true love, how much do readers really learn about being true to one s own heart? Catherine does not marry Heathcliff because he is not of noble birth, educated or wealthy. Cathy marries Hareton, but she is not condescending her own status by marrying him since she has no title to degrade. Hareton, though initially dirty and vulgar, becomes the owner of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange before the two even wed. Though Bront s novel sets up a brilliant attack on aristocratic arrogance, but her desire for a romantic ending mars her argument.