In Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, the characters are quite intricate and engaging.
The story takes place in northern England in an isolated, rural area. The main characters involved are residents of two opposing households: Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Wuthering Heights is a tale of a powerful love between two people, which transcends all boundaries, including that between life and death. The author, Emily Bronte, uses parallelism in this novel. Much of what happens in the first half of the story corresponds to events in the second half.
This parallelism also extends to the characters; the first generation of characters is comparable to the second generation. Some might argue that these characters are duplicates of each other and that they share many traits. This is not the case for Catherine Earnshaw and Cathy Linton, a mother and her daughter. These two characters are different in numerous aspects of their personalities and lifestyles.
Catherine Earnshaw and Cathy Linton differ a great deal when it comes to their family life. Catherines father did not love her because she was forever misbehaving. He once told her, “Nay Cathy, I cannot love thee; thourt worse than thy brother. Go, say thy prayers, child, and ask Gods pardon. I doubt thy mother and I must rue the day we ever reared thee!” Relating to Lockwood, Nelly noted that young Catherine was such a “wild, wicked slip” (37) that she never seemed as content as when she was being scolded. She was born into a rich, well to do solid family.
Her dad, Mr. Earnshaw, was strict man; her mom, Mrs. Earnshaw, was a devoted, quite snobbish woman. Catherine was conceited all throughout her youth, which is clearly a contributing factor to her immaturity.
She also shows how she likes and loves to be given excessive attention. This causes her problems all the way until she becomes an adult. A very important aspect of Catherine is, of course, her personality. She can be described as conceited, mischievous, willful, and “had the bonniest eye, and sweetest smile” (45). The readers can clearly see the special traits and features that make her unique in a special way. As a little girl, she has a very strong attitude.
She is the type of girl that will react in a rather aggressive way when she doesnt get what she wants. She is so used to always getting what she wants, that when the opposite happens, she throws a tantrum. One of the first examples of this was, “when she learnt the master had lost her whip in attending the stranger, showed her humor by grinning and spitting at the stupid little thing” (41). Catherine was an intensely emotional character. From the time she was a child, she made choices based on her urges and feelings, and would become irritated if her will was not maintained. One time she became violently abusive when Nelly insisted on supervising her visit with Edgar.
She pinched and slapped Nelly, shook Hareton when he began to cry, and then slapped Edgar when he attempted to intervene. This sort of unstable emotional state made Catherine very frail that she often became ill after an outburst. Following an argument she had with Heathcliff and Edgar, she became very ill and eventually died. It could be argued that her tendency for passionate outbursts drained the life from her.
Catherine is a strong young woman and she is defiant of authority since young age. “She was never so happy as when we were all scolding, her at the same time, and she defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words” (46). This, besides showing her as a mischievous child, shows a characteristic strongly underlined in her– the need for attention. Catherine also treated her brother Hindley poorly. As a child, she neglected him in favour of Heathcliff. As an adult, Catherine made no effort to help Hindley with his drinking problem after Frances died, nor did she try and prevent Heathcliff from taking advantage of Hindley.
Catherine’s selfish character was depicted when she wanted both Edgar and Heathcliff at the same time. She wanted Edgar for his life and Heathcliff for his soul. She didn’t want to choose between the two of them, and therefore she never did. Thus, she caused pain for Heathcliff and Edgar.
With Catherine, her heart and mind are divided: she loves Heathcliff, but marries the more stable Edgar. Cathy Linton, on the other hand, enjoys a very loving atmosphere at Thrushcross Grange. She is a fine, young lady. She loves her father and stays at his side constantly when he is ill. She even consents to marry Linton, so she can see her father. She and her father, Edgar, were very fond of each other.
Edgar was anxious to protect her form the twisted world of Wuthering Heights. Cathy demonstrated her love for her father when she devoted herself to nursing him during his illness. Cathy never had any siblings, but she wished that she had one. She once said, “Pretty Linton! I wish you were my brother” (219). The reader is certain that if Cathy had a brother they would have been very close. Her characteristic traits show the reader that she is a caring and loving woman.
Cathy was much more sensible than her mother was. She was able to effectively control her emotions at all times, even during confrontations with her tormentor Heathcliff, and remained strong and grounded throughout the novel. At no point was she abusive, except perhaps in her initial treatment of Hareton. The differences in the emotional character of Catherine and Cathy could be explained in the fact that Cathy did not experience a relationship like the torrential love affair Catherine had with Heathcliff. It was this relationship that was the root for all the tragedy in Catherines life.
Heathcliff played a dominant role in both halves of Wuthering Heights and he interacted with both Catherine and Cathy. However, they had very different relationships with him. Catherine and Heathcliff were deeply in love with each other and had been soul mates ever since childhood. Heathcliff often evoked powerful emotions from Catherine, and their encounters often left Catherine in emotional chaos. Cathy did not like Heathcliff and he did not like her. Edgar and Nelly informed Cathy of Heathcliffs terrible history and negative impact on her family.
Once she moved into Wuthering Heights and lived with Heathcliff, Cathy was transformed from a bright, cheerful young girl into the sullen, foul-tempered person Lockwood meets during his first visit to the Heights. Heathcliff saw Cathy as the cause of her mothers death and she represented Catherines betrayal of their love. Cathy inspired many feelings of rage from Heathcliff. For instance, when she accused him of stealing her property he burst out, “Damnable witch! Off with her! Do you hear? Fling her into the kitchen! Ill kill her, Ellen Dean, if you let her come into my sight again” (292). The mother and her daughter had contrasting views and experiences when it came to love and marriage.
Catherine was desperately in attached to Heathcliff, and the love they shared was the most powerful force in the novel. She did not want to marry Heathcliff, though, because she felt it would degrade her. This displays her pride and ego, which led to her choice of Edgar for a husband. This union was not built on true love, but on Catherines desire to have money, power and respect. In comparison, Cathy was forced into marrying Linton, with whom she would have rather had a brother-sister bond.
Heathcliff forced this marriage because he wanted the property and assets that she was heir to. Cathy eventually fell in love with Hareton, despite the fact that he was a dirty, illiterate farm labourer. Unlike her mother, Cathy wanted to marry for love, not money or power. This is obvious because Hareton is poor and could offer neither. But just like Catherine did to Heathcliff, Cathy treats Hareton like he is a servant and he becomes upset.
Nelly Dean was another character who played an important role throughout the entire novel and had close relationships with both Catherine Earnshaw and her daughter Cathy. Catherine grew up with Nelly and since Nelly was several years older, Catherine treated her rather like a big sister. She often came to Nelly with problems, but Nelly did not show a great deal of concern for her. This was because she had developed a dislike for Catherine because of her cruel, selfish actions. When Catherine came to her looking for advice about marrying Edgar, Nelly questioned her motives and put her down for being materialistic. Nelly had a huge impact on the lives of both girls.
She would have altered the unfortunate path of Catherines life if she had told her that Heathcliff had overheard her say that it would degrade her to marry him. Cathy Linton had a better relationship with Nelly and the two were very fond of each other. Nelly was like a mother to Cathy and was her constant companion during her childhood. Cathy trusted Nelly and told her many personal things. On several occasions, though, Nelly revealed these secrets to Edgar, who was reasonably upset about his daughters deceits. An example is when he learned of Cathys frequent, unpermitted visits to see Linton at Wuthering Heights.
It could be argued that Nelly betrayed Cathys trust in order to protect her from Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights. Nellys sweet, innocent mistress may have been corrupted by too much exposure to such unsavory elements. The characters of Catherine Earnshaw and her daughter Cathy Linton are very different in numerous aspects of their personalities and lifestyles. They had very different family lives. Much of Catherines character was based on emotions while Cathy is much more restrained. Heathcliff and Nelly both had relationships with the women, but these relationships were very distinct and often in contrast.
Catherine and Cathy had opposing views on love and dissimilar experiences with marriage. Although the two characters never had a relationship, as one died giving birth to the other, it seemed as if Cathy had learned from her mothers mistakes and successfully avoided the same tragedies. This was accomplished mainly by recognizing Heathcliff as a monster. Cathy could never be completely at rest after Heathcliff and the world of Wuthering Heights was introduced into her life.
It was in this same world, strangely, that Catherine Earnshaw had rejoiced, which is perhaps the most striking difference between mother and daughter. Heathcliff was at the same time the source of joy and the cause of pain in Catherines life. Perhaps their love was so powerful that it could only be contained within the realm of the dead. Although there are many different important messages in this novel, the main value is the changes that occur in and between the characters.
Wuthering Heights is a love story that deals with the social classes and the suppression of true feelings. It bestows a moral value onto the reader of discrimination and true heartbreak. It is a tragedy because of what happens when the characters finally discover what was truly meant to be. The characters within the story are truly fascinating, since they have numerous characteristic aspects.
Cathy Linton may be recognized as a duplicate of Catherine Earnshaw, but their personality traits are entirely different. Catherine is evil and selfish, and Cathy is innocent and kind. Although they are mother and daughter, they are two completely different people. As the story progresses, the reader can clearly see how they differ in many aspects.