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Discuss the character of Catherine Earnshaw and your reaction to her and her importance to the novel as a whole.

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Introduction

Question: Discuss the character of Catherine Earnshaw and your reaction to her and her importance to the novel as a whole. Emily Bront� - Research: Born in 1818 at Thornton in Yorkshire, Emily Bront� lived for most of her life at Haworth, near Keighley. The fifth of the six children of Reverend Patrick Bront�, she became familiar with death early. When she was three years old in 1821, her mother died of cancer, and when she was seven her two older sisters, boarding at Cowan Bridge School, died of consumption. Emily and her sister Charlotte, who also attended this school, returned to Haworth where, with their sister Anne and brother Branwell, were brought up by their aunt. Emily was apparently an intelligent, lively child, becoming more reserved as she grew older. Emily remained at Haworth, looking after her father and the household. She continued writing, and in 1846, persuaded by Charlotte, the sisters published a joint collection of poems, under the pen names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Wuthering Heights, probably begun in autumn 1845, and was published in December 1847. Reviews were mixed. The novel's power and originality were recognized, but fault was found with its violence, coarse language, and apparent lack of moral. In September 1848, Branwell, whose various attempts at making a career ended in addiction to opium and drink, died. ...read more.

Middle

Before Catherine's death, Nelly notices that her eyes seemed to gaze beyond the objects round her, 'you would have said out of this world' (p144). She anticipates a world where she will be 'incomparably beyond and above you all' (p148). After her death, Heathcliff asks her to haunt him: 'I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always' (p155). At the end of the novel, two spirits are seen walking together on the moors. I can conclude that the two have finally found happiness together. Love is linked with dreams, through which Catherine finds the truth about her deepest feelings (Chapters 9 and 12). When describing their relationship, the language of Heathcliff and Catherine is obsessive and dramatic. I.e. in Heathcliff's description of visiting the Grange in Chapter 5, his account in Chapter 29 and his revelations to Nelly in the Final Chapters. His description of how he sensed Catherine's presence after his funeral is characteristic, with its exclamations, short sentences, dashes and powerful images:' I looked round impatiently - I felt her by me - I could almost see her, and yet I could not! I ought to have sweat blood then...' (p226). I see Catherine now and then in a concerned, sometimes in an unconcerned light. I witness her nastiness to Isabella in Chapter 10, her self-interest and determination to get her own way when she assumes Edgar must put up with ...read more.

Conclusion

Catherine and Heathcliff's relations are further let down, and upon their long-awaited reunion, fireworks go off: 'With straining eagerness Catherine gazed toward the entrance of her chamber,' (p140) Nelly recalled. Heathcliff's reaction is not surprisingly similar, 'In a stride or two was at her side, and he had her grasped in his arms. He bestowed more kisses than ever he gave in his life before' (p140). It is at this point that Cathy and Heathcliff differ the most. Remarkably, Cathy further displays he lack of maturity by attempting to make her beloved feel guilty that she is suffering, although it is caused by her own lack of consideration. The dramatic and suffering scene is described as, 'The two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and fearful picture' (p141). Catherine's gift of pain to Heathcliff and Heathcliff's ability to change her justification in a brief conversation suggest he is the most loyal lover. She submitted to the pressures of marrying a man for his position as Heathcliff changed his own life to be that man. However wicked Heathcliff becomes, he never betrays his dream and his own private vision of eternal bliss alongside Cathy, while she seeks a worldly success in the marriage of Edgar Linton for its own sake. Although they each admit that they are necessarily part of one another, exclusively Heathcliff is willing to face the consequences. Only at the arrival of her death is she willing to surrender to the truth of her love. Jessica Brown 1 ...read more.

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