Catherine Earnshaw As A Dominating Presence In

Wuthering Heights Essay, Research Paper

In the novel Wuthering Heights there was one character who had a dominating influence

on the way the novel went. Her name was Catherine Earnshaw and even after she died she still

left a lasting impression on the people around her and after she was gone people still made some

decisions based on her. While she was alive she had Heathcliff and Edgar rapped around her

finger; she could have made them do anything she wanted and sometimes she did. While

Catherine was dying Heathcliff spent the most time with her and she knew that at that point he

would do anything for her and she used that against him. There are many examples of Cathy?s

dominance in the novel and they will all be discussed in detail.

The major instance of Catherine?s dominance is one that continues through the entire

novel and that is her influence over Heathcliff. Catherine acquires this grasp over Heathcliff by

telling him that he is not good enough for her and that he is also not civilized enough for her to

marry him. To make Heathcliff even more desperate Catherine decides she will get married to

Edgar instead of Heathcliff; ?she is na?ve enough to think that by doing so she will be able to lift

Heathcliff from the degradation into which he has been thrust by Hindley?. When in fact this

makes Heathcliff very jealous and he goes away to make him self more refined for Catherine.

When Heathcliff returns to find Catherine has married Edgar it sends him over the edge he gets

furious and revenge is on his mind. He thinks that if he marries Isabella that it would bring

Catherine back into his arms. Of course this does not work it only succeeds in making Edgar

furious. Edgar disowns Isabella and tells Catherine she is not allowed to see Heathcliff, this

enrages Catherine and she locks herself in her room with no food or water. She hopes that this

would change Edgar?s mind as well as give her the sympathy that she craved. Her plan did not

work and she became very ill; Heathcliff snuck in to see Catherine a number of times because he

was the one who felt sorry for her and was willing to risk his life to be with her which was just

what Catherine had in mind. ?After Catherine died Heathcliff commands her to haunt him

saying, ?I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!?? Catherine had such a

dominating impact on Heathcliff that he could not let her die he wanted her soul to be with him


An example of Catherine?s dominating presence even after her death made Heathcliff

come up with a plan to take control of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.

Catherine?s death forced Heathcliff into a rage where he came up with a plan to get back at

Edgar for marrying Catherine and not taking better care of her. One of the things he decided to

do was take control of Wuthering Heights from her brother Hindley. He accomplished this by

getting Hindley drunk and having him a game of cards in which Heathcliff won the deed to

Wuthering Heights. Next Heathcliff would get Thrushcross Grange taking his revenge on Edgar,

he accomplished this by getting young Cathy Linton to marry his son Linton Heathcliff. Then

once Linton died Heathcliff was in control of both Wuthering heights and Thrushcross Grange.

Once Heathcliff had his plan completed he settled down in Wuthering Heights but

Catherine?s presence never did settle down. Heathcliff often went into Catherine?s old room and

sat on the bed calling Catherine?s name hoping she would answer. Catherine?s impact on

Heathcliff changed Heathcliff so that he never concerned himself with anything else but his

wanting to be with Catherine. Her presence on him was so great that he would do anything so he

could be with her even after death. An example of this is when he invaded her grave and paid

the gravedigger to break the one side off her casket and turn her body facing in that direction.

Heathcliff then paid the gravedigger to bury Heathcliff on that side of Catherine and break away

the side of his casket and face him towards Catherine?s casket. He did this because Heathcliff

thought that if he did this that he and Catherine would be together forever because she had so

much influence on Heathcliff and he loved her so much that he could not even for one moment

stop thinking about her. Heathcliff was now inviting death to come so he could finally be with


Catherine?s dominating presence mostly had an impact on Heathcliff but through

Heathcliff her presence had an impact on other people in the novel as well. An example of this

is Heathcliff?s plan to gain control of both households. While he was doing this he not only got

his revenge on many people, he also destroyed many people?s lives in getting what he wanted.

Someone who?s life Heathcliff destroyed as a result of Catherine?s presence is Linton?s. Linton

was an innocent young man until he was brought into the middle of Heathcliff?s plan, ?then from

there his fate was sealed and he would eventually die?. Also because of Catherine?s dominating

impact Heathcliff showed Edgar a huge sign of disrespect and Edgar was left out in the cold by

himself. This was done when Heathcliff had the gravedigger turn Catherine?s body so it faced

away from Edgar, almost so it was like Cathy was ignoring Edgar. This was probably the

biggest sign of disrespect brought on by Heathcliff?s love and obsession with Catherine even

after she had died.

In conclusion Catherine?s dominating presence played a major role in the novel

Wuthering Heights. The person she affected the most was Heathcliff but her impact also

devastated many other people?s lives as well. While Catherine was alive she was able to control

the way her dominating presence effected others like Heathcliff to a certain extent. Then when

she died her presence was much more known to the reader because it was soon apparent that the

control that was once there had gone and chaos was inevitable. Catherine?s dominating presence

definitely gave the novel a much more in depth meaning and also made it a little more

interesting because it made Heathcliff do all of those evil and underhanded things. Her impact

in the novel made the story better because there was a sense of unpredictability that would keep

the reading on the edge of their seat.


Mitchell, Hayley. Readings on Wuthering Heights. California: The Greenhaven Press, 1999.

G?rin, Winifred. Emily Bront?. London: Oxford University Press, 1971.

Daiches, David. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Wuthering Heights. New Jersey: Prentice-

Hall, Incorporated, 1968.

James Janet. Cliffs Notes on Bront?s Wuthering Heights. Nebraska: Cliffs Notes Incorporated,



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