Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights - Cathy's Narcissism and Fragmentation

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Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights – Cathy’s Narcissism and Fragmentation

Evidence for Cathy’s confinement in narcissism can be found in language describing her infantilism.  She is referred to as a “wailing child”. (162)  However, the most important evidence can be found in Cathy’s own speech when she says:-

But I begin to fancy you don’t like me.  How strange!  I thought, though everybody hated and despised each other, they could not avoid loving me – and they have al turned to enemies in a few hours.” (159)

Cathy’s narcissistic self love is a response to being denied a life and a story of her own.

The mirror is a psychoanalytic symbol for narcissism and in Wuthering Heights Cathy is continuously “straining her gaze towards the glass.” (161) For Cathy, it is not a “mirror”, it is a “black press.” (161)  Black has resonances of an empty space, whereas a “press” could be a printing press for printing Cathy’s story.   Cathy’s misrecognition reinforces the notion, however, that she has no story to print, since her life is empty like a black hole.  Ellen says: “There is no press in the room and never was”. (161)  In other words, Cathy has never had a story to tell.

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Nonetheless, Cathy still attempts to find her own story when she runs to the window and opens it.  Cathy is greeted by the “frosty air” of an unfeeling patriarchy, which “cut about her shoulders,” symbolically decapitating Cathy with a metaphorical phallic “knife” (164).  The implication being that in confining Cathy to the role of angel, her mind and body have been separated and Cathy is left – as all women were – with only her body.

Cathy’s starvation of her body is a form of revenge against patriarchy.  Since, by starving herself as well as her unborn child, she is denying ...

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