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With reference to Emily Bronte's characterisation of Cathy and Heathcliff, discuss whom you may feel most sympathy for and why?

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Introduction

Gareth Lyons With reference to Emily Bronte's characterisation of Cathy and Heathcliff, discuss whom you may feel most sympathy for and why? I am aiming to discuss (the above) whom I may feel most sympathy for and why out of Catherine (Cathy for short) and Heathcliff. Wuthering Heights is a novel written by Emily Bronte between 1846-1847 and is vastly influenced and dominated by the characters of Heathcliff and Catherine and their eternal, everlasting love for each other. The novel is told through the eyes of several narrators and most of them do not understand the depth and intensity of Cathy and Heathcliff and so they cannot describe it. This book is extremely complexed and our sympathy for each character constantly shifts from one person to another as Bronte keeps giving us reasons to change our views. Even though Heathcliff is an unreclaimed creature, without refinement and whose purpose in life is to seek revenge on all those who have wronged or crossed him, Bronte changes our views by changing his status from hero to villain. Emily Bronte constantly changes the characters status and this adds intrigue to the book. Another example of our fluxuating views is when we first meet Cathy as she clearly talks about disliking her whole life in her diary and this makes us sympathise towards her as she practically thinks that nothings worth living for. ...read more.

Middle

This corresponds with the ambivalence the upper classes felt toward the lower classes-the upper classes had charitable impulses toward lower-class citizens when they were miserable, but feared the prospect of the lower classes trying to escape their miserable circumstances by acquiring political, social, cultural, or economic power. Catherine's childhood is somewhat different to Heathcliff's as she has no reason to hate or despise anyone, but she does detest the way Heathcliff is treated. As a child, Catherine behaves spontaneously and naturally. She is selfish and believes she may act autonomously. Nelly Dean describes Catherine as 'mischievous and wayward'. Evidence of Catherine's wildness can be seen from the pledge she and Heathcliff made-: "promised fair to grow up as rude as savages" in response to the terinay of Hindley. Catherine is defiant of authority and seemed to enjoy the wrath of others-: "she was never so happy as when we were all scalding her at once" Catherine's passionate nature, evident throughout her childhood, seemed not to exist in her early months of her marriage to Edgar. Her passion was described as-: "gunpowder which lay as harmless as sand because no fire came near to explode it". As the book is based on Cathy and Heathcliff's profound love for each other it seems strange that they both marry other people. ...read more.

Conclusion

As she breathed the stifled air of the Grange instead of the wild air of the moors, she has effectively cut off her oxygen supply and then she eventually dies, a situation entirely her fault. However in death she had regained her freedom by returning to nature, the dire consequences of her failure to remain loyal to her true self. When Cathy dies and her coffin is buried, Nelly describes that she is buried in the corner of the yard between Edgar and Heathcliff. I believe Emily Bronte is trying to show Cathy's conflicted loyalties to each character as she had reasons to marry Edgar and to love Heathcliff. My conclusion about her is that she represents wild nature in her lively spirits and her occasional cruelty. I feel most sympathy for Heathcliff as he has had the worst in life despite inflicting pain on others. I think this because Cathy has had a better life and other characters in the novel have treated her better whereas Heathcliff has been badly treated by nearly all of the characters. I also feel sympathy for his character because he is not sure what Cathy wants, him or Edgar, as she says she loves him and yet she marries Edgar? ...read more.

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