catherine earnshaw


  • Catherine’s most famous speech in the novel comes when she declares her feelings for Heathcliff and Edgar to Nelly Dean, the housekeeper of Wuthering Heights and the novel’s
    main narrator: Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing
    for joy.

  • In Lockwood’s vision, she tries to enter the house through a window; at the end of the novel Heathcliff, having become desperate to see his lost love again, is found dead
    before an open window.

  • (Heathcliff, for his part, provides a similar comparison between the respective loves that he and Linton feel for her: “If he loved with all the powers of his puny being,
    he could not love as much in eighty years as I could in a day”) — and the famous ghostly utterance, “Let me in your window – I’m so cold!

  • Under the impression that Catherine would never marry him, Heathcliff goes on a three-year hiatus from Wuthering Heights which is not elaborated on in the book.

  • She dies a couple of hours after giving birth to a daughter, also named Catherine (but only referred to as Cathy throughout the novel), whose generation forms the basis of
    the second half of the story.

  • I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there, had not brought Heathcliff so low I shouldn’t have thought of it.

  • The open window is therefore a symbol of Catherine’s enduring power throughout the course of the story, and of her ultimate reunion with her love; however, it also raises
    ambiguities as to the nature of the reunion.

  • Upon his return, Heathcliff pays a visit to Thrushcross Grange, which causes Catherine great excitement, and Edgar deepest dread: Mr. Linton walked to a window on the other
    side of the room that overlooked the court.

  • During Cathy’s fatal illness, Nelly notes that Catherine is very frail, and has “a bloodless lip”, an image which serves to augment the Gothic undertones of her final days;
    nevertheless, Nelly describes her in death as divine: “no angel in heaven looked as beautiful as her”, and her countenance resembled “perfect peace”.

  • Many film adaptations of the novel have been made, particularly the 1939 version with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, which covers only half of the story, ending with Catherine’s
    death rather than the lives of the younger Cathy, Hareton, and Linton Heathcliff.

  • Effect on modern society and popular culture Cathy delivers many of the lines which have become synonymous with the work, such as her renowned declaration of love for Heathcliff
    — My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods.

  • Catherine and Heathcliff still manage to spend time together, and while the two of them spy on the Thrushcross Grange estate, the residence of the Linton family, Catherine
    is attacked by one of the Linton’s dogs.

  • Catherine becomes spoiled and vicious, often taking it out on her servant and foster-sister Nelly.

  • The star-crossed love between her and Heathcliff is one of the primary focuses of the novel.

  • Upon returning from her time with the Lintons, Catherine has developed more refined manners and become friends with Edgar and Isabella Linton.

  • The lovers pour out their passions to one another: Cathy accuses Heathcliff of killing her, and Heathcliff laments that he cannot live when “his soul is in the grave”.

  • Cathy falls into a state of psychological insanity, although it is partly feigned in her desire to provoke her husband and “break his heart” because of the pain that she feels
    after being forbidden to see Heathcliff.

  • In an awkward set of visits to the Grange, Heathcliff begins to exact his revenge, seducing Isabella Linton in order to gain control of Thrushcross Grange at Edgar’s death,
    and trapping her in an abusive and terrifying marriage.

  • Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees — my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath — a source of little visible delight, but necessary.

  • Thematically, Catherine and her choice to marry Edgar rather than Heathcliff are central to the issues of nature versus nurture, self versus society, class division, and violence
    in Wuthering Heights, as well as to the antitheses of good and evil, and physical existence and spiritual existence, which pervade the novel.


Works Cited

[‘1. Oda, Yukari (9 March 2010). Ouvrard, Elise (ed.). “Emily Brontë and the Gothic: Female Characters in Wuthering Heights”. Revue LISA (in French). The Brontës and the Idea of Influence: 1–19. ISSN 1762-6153.
2. ^ Schapiro, Barbara (1989). “The
Rebirth of Catherine Earnshaw: Splitting and Reintegration of Self in “Wuthering Heights””. Nineteenth Century Studies. 3: 37–51. ISSN 0893-7931. JSTOR 45196648.
3. ^ Gold, Linda (1985). “Catherine Earnshaw: Mother and Daughter”. The English Journal.
74 (3): 68–73. doi:10.2307/817114. ISSN 0013-8274. JSTOR 817114.
4. ^ Saddler, Brennan (6 November 2014). “Why does Heathcliff want to be near Catherine’s dead body?”. Baylor University. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
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