The two most significant relationships in Catherine’s life are with Edgar and Heathcliff; however, they could not be more different. Her relationship with Heathcliff is one of raw, natural passion not social stamina, whereas her marriage to Edgar is one based on convention. Her two lovers come to represent the two conflicting parts of her identity and it is the internal struggle between these conflicting impulses that can be said to lead to her death. As the novel opens, Mr Lockwood says that Heathcliff is a ‘dark-skinned gypsy in aspect in dress and manners a gentleman… He also observes that Heathcliff will ‘love and hate equally. ‘ His description of casual violence lack of manners or consideration for other people which characterizes Heathcliff is only a hint of the atmosphere of the whole novel, in which that violence is contrasted with more genteel and civilized ways of living represented by the Lintons.
When Nelly Dean begins to narrate the story of Heathcliff’s past, she describes him with discrimination. When Heathcliff is first introduced, Mr Earnshaw says ‘… ut you must e’en take it as a gift of God, though it’s as dark almost as if it came from the devil. ‘ Bronti?? implies early on that Heathcliff has gifts from both God and the Devil (good and bad characteristics). Nelly Dean describes him as a ‘dirty, ragged, black-haired child; big enough to walk and talk… ‘ she also constantly refers to Heathcliff as ‘it’- ‘… Mrs Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors…. [He’s a] Gypsy brat’, Heathcliff is constantly referred to as if he weren’t human.
Nelly talks of how he ‘repeated over and over again some gibberish that nobody could understand… ‘ this portrays him as a wild animal/beast. Catherine and Hindley don’t automatically get on with Heathcliff. Catherine ‘showed her humour by grinning and spitting at the stupid little thing… ‘ However later on Mrs Dean describes the friends to be ‘very thick. ‘ Heathcliff’s origins are obscure; he was ‘found’ and ‘Not a soul knew to whom [he] belonged. ‘
Nelly says ‘… they had christened him Heathcliff….. nd it has served him ever since, both for Christian and surname’; this emphasizes the idea of how low Heathcliff’s class is because in the 18th century, the absence of a persons surname exposed a lack of background. Hindley hates Heathcliff from the beginning and the writer comments on how he sees Heathcliff ‘as a usurper of his parents’ affections… ‘ This conveys how Heathcliff was favoured above the children. Bronti?? describes Heathcliff to be ‘as uncomplaining as a lamb… ‘ which persuades the reader to think he is innocent.
It is also a biblical phrase as in the bible; lambs were used to portray the innocence and purity of life. Hindley fiercely calls Heathcliff ‘an imp of Satan’ in contrast to the original idea that he was innocent and corresponds to the idea that Heathcliff has gifts from both God and from the devil. In the next chapter, Catherine and Heathcliff become extremely close. ‘She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from him… ‘ says Nelly showing that the two were inseparable.
When Catherine’s father dies, Nelly Dean comments on how ‘they both set up a heart breaking cry… ‘ this shows that Heathcliff is the only person Catherine can now turn to and that they only have each other to get through the sorrow. In Chapter VI when Heathcliff describes Thrushcross Grange, he says ‘it was beautiful, – a splendid place carpeted with crimson and crimson-covered chairs and tables and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold… ‘ This description creates a heavenly image of splendour especially to Heathcliff who has never seen anything like it before.
Bronti?? uses the drawing room window to symbolize the boundary between the two classes since it divides the two sets of children. The window is the barrier motif shown throughout the novel. When Catherine is accepted into the house and Heathcliff is rejected, this is the end of their childhood innocence and the beginning of their awareness of the difference of class: ‘… and I would have been there too, but they had not the manners to ask me to stay… ‘
Earlier on in the novel, Mr Lockwood’s describes Wuthering Heights; the house and its furniture are described as plain and ‘nothing extraordinary… he floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs high-backed… ‘ This contrast with the description of the Grange and perhaps Bronti?? uses this as a metaphor to describe the social context of the inhabitants of both houses. The meeting of the two families begins the ‘tug of war’ for Catherine between Edgar and Heathcliff. Heathcliff describes Catherine to be attracted to the Lintons and ‘full of stupid admiration’ for them suggesting that Catherine’s love for Edgar was built on admiration and for what he represents rather than his innate qualities.
At the moment when Heathcliff and Catherine’s intimacy is on the verge of blossoming into love, social class intrudes into the novel and their affection. As Heathcliff says- ‘… I resumed my station as a spy; because, if Catherine had wished to return, I intended shattering their great glass panes to a million fragments, unless they let her out.. ‘ This conveys that his love for Catherine is protective and possessive. If the window through which Catherine and Heathcliff first view the Lintons is a metaphor for class division, then Heathcliff vows to smash both the literal and metaphorical boundary between him and Catherine.
When Catherine comes back, it is evident that her stay at the Lintons’ house was the beginning of the wilting of their relationship because although she is still extremely fond of him, she has realized ‘how very black and cross’ and how ‘funny and grim… ‘ he appeared, and she has also realized that he is ‘… so dirty… ‘ Heathcliff ‘did not stand to be laughed at’ and ran away. Catherine has begun to think like the Lintons, and thus begins a thaw in their love. ‘Heathcliff was hard to discover at first- if he were careless and uncared for before Catherine’s absence, he had been ten times more so, since… says Nelly, emphasizing the fact that Catherine had defended and protected Heathcliff in their home.
Heathcliff was only cared for if she was there. When Catherine returns home her behaviour is acquired; her attitude and appearance as a ‘very dignified person’ show that she has moved into a different sphere; that of the ‘genteel’ Lintons. Heathcliff cannot follow her. He tries to follow her, ‘… Nelly make me decent… ‘ and he wants to have the effect Edgar has on Catherine: ‘I wish I had light hair and fair skin, and was dressed and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he will be…
Although Cathy still cares for the things she did with him during their childhood, she is still under a lot of pressure to become a lady and she is vain enough to enjoy the admiration and approval she receives from Edgar, Hindley and his wife. Just as the window separated the Wuthering heights children from the Lintons in the last chapter, a material object separates Catherine from Heathcliff. The fine dress she wears is a very real boundary between the old friends: it must be sacrificed (smudged and crumpled) if she is to embrace Heathcliff.
The dress is also a metaphor for the fact that id Catherine is to associate with Heathcliff, the wildness of her character will be exposed. As Catherine is wants to enjoy both Edgar’s admiration and Heathcliff’s love, this leads her to ‘adopt a double character without exactly intending to deceive anyone… ‘ Edgar represents the side of Catherine that satisfies her vanity and her yearning for social consequence; Heathcliff represents her natural and real emotions. Catherine has to change in order to be loved by Edgar.
During one of his visits, she shows her impulsive and impetuous side when she ‘snatche[s] the cloth from [Nelly’s] hand, and pinche[s] [her]’ to the great shock of Edgar who only knows her as ‘a very dignified person… ‘ It seems as though Catherine’s love for Edgar is based on external considerations ‘… you love Mr Edgar because he is handsome and young and loves you… ‘ says Nelly. Her love is based on his appearance, his wealth and how he feels towards her.
Her love for Heathcliff however is internal; in her heart: she loves him ‘not because he’s handsome, but because he is more myself than I am. This suggests that Heathcliff represents the person who Catherine actually is whereas Edgar is who Catherine wants to be in terms of social aspirations and consequence. When Catherine tries to explain why she feels she is wrong to marry Edgar, she says she feels it ‘Here! and Here! ‘ striking ‘one hand on her forehead and the other on her breast’ as she does so. This creates another metaphorical boundary, between the external and internal: Catherine’s love for Edgar is based on internal qualities but her love for Heathcliff is felt within her body.
Cathy’s description of her love for Heathcliff shows the contrast between Linton’s softness and Heathcliff’s wildness: ‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same and Linton’s is as different as a moon beam from lightning or frost from fire. ‘ This is an interesting contrast as ‘moon beam’ and ‘frost’ are calm and beautiful images, however, they are completely opposite to ‘lightning’ and ‘fire’ which are both dangerous and wild things. gall, I never would have raised a hand against him…
I never would have banished him from her society, as long as she desired his. ‘ Correspondingly, he imagines Catherine’s affection for Edgar in terms of property: ‘He is scarcely a degree dearer to her than her dog, or her horse. It is not in him to be loved like me. ‘ Material wealth has always been associated with the Lintons, so Heathcliff extends ideas of property and ownership to their emotions as well. Heathcliff’s reunion with Catherine is presented as bittersweet: though passionately glad to be reunited, Catherine accuses Heathcliff of having killed her.
Heathcliff warns her not to say such things when they ‘will be branded in [his] memory and eating deeper eternally’ after her death. He also says that she had been at fault for abandoning him: ‘why did you betray you own heart Cathy? You deserve this… ‘ This passionate scene between Catherine and Heathcliff in this chapter is probably the emotional climax of the novel though it only marks the middle of the book. It is as though they were members (who belong together) of a different species from other humans.
Ellen says: ‘the two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and fearsome picture. ‘ Catherine tears Heathcliff’s hair, and he leaves bruises on her arm. Later, ‘he foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with greedy jealousy. ‘ ‘[Ellen] did not feel as though [she] were in the company of a member of [her] own species. ‘ What Ellen considers as bestial, the lovers would probably consider transcendent; their love sets them apart from others but in what way is open to interpretation.
When Catherine dies, Bronti?? creates a contrast between the ways the two men react to her death. Edgar Linton had his head laid on a pillow and his eyes shut… ‘ this shows that he is mourning silently and calmly but, Heathcliff ‘dashed his head against the knotted trunk, and lifting up his eyes howled not like a man but like a savage beast getting goaded to death with knives and spears… ‘ This harsh diction portrays Heathcliff’s pain, torment and anger at Catherine’s death. Bronti?? uses this language to show that Catherine was Heathcliff’s other half; without her (his beloved), half of his soul was missing.
The comparison between Edgar’s peaceful mourning and Heathcliff’s declaration of love again refers to the difference of their emotions and their contrasting natures. The question of what happens after death is important in this chapter and throughout the novel; though no firm answer is given. Ellen is convinced that Catherine went to heaven, ‘where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, joy in its fullness. ‘ Heathcliff however, cannot conceive of Catherine finding peace whilst they are still separated, or of his living without her.
In the chapter before, Catherine said ‘I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world and to be always there; not seeing it dimly through tears and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart, but really with it and in it. ‘ It is as though she had in mind a heaven that was like the moors in everyway but with the spirits of natural freedom. Eighteen years after her death, Heathcliff’s continued love for Catherine’s dead body paradoxically emphasizes the physical, yet non-physical nature of their relationship.
This all-consuming love is revealed when he explains how he tried to dig up her body on the day she was buried. Heathcliff is pleased to see that Catherine still looks like herself after eighteen years but claims that if she had been ‘dissolved into earth or words,’ he would have still been happy. His idea of heaven is to be completely united with Catherine in body, as well as in spirit and this could just as well mean to disintegrate into dust together as to be joined in the act of love.
In the final two chapters, we are given an extraordinary window into Heathcliff’s mind in the chapter. Whenever he looks at something, he sees Catherine in it; he hears her voice in every sound. This is Bronti??’s idea of true haunting, which seems to resemble madness rather than scary noises in the dark. If the ghost of Catherine is at work, she has found her home in Heathcliff’s mind and her vocation is distorting his perception and his ability to communicate with the outside world.
The presentation of love in the relationships between Catherine and Edgar and Catherine and Heathcliff are clearly profoundly contrasting. Heathcliff represents passion and nature, whereas Edgar represents culture. These two characteristics symbolize the duality in Cathy’s own personality and it is her struggle between the two conflicting impulses that eventually consumes her. However, when Heathcliff and Edgar die and are both buried alongside Catherine, we can see how Bronti?? portrays that the two men will always have a place in her heart.
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