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Wuthering Heights Themes

The novel Wuthering Heights has a very complex storyline and the characters
involved are also quite intricate. 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. It is a tale of a
powerful love between two people, which transcends all boundaries, including
that between life and death. The author, Emily Bronte, used parallelism in this
novel. Much of what happens in the first half of the story corresponds to events
in the second half. This parallelism extends also 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! (1) In relating the tale to Lockwood, Nelly noted that young
Catherine was such a wild, wicked slip (Bronte, pg. 37) that she never
seemed as content as when she was being scolded. 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. Cathy Linton, on the other hand, enjoyed a very loving atmosphere at
Thrushcross Grange. 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. (Bronte,
pg. 219) The reader is certain that if Cathy had a brother they would have been
very close. Catherine Earnshaw 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 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. Cathy Linton 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!
(Bronte, pg. 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. Catherine did not want to marry Heathcliff, though, because she felt
it would degrade her. This displays Catherines 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. 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 them 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, like 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 were 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 Heatchcliff 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.

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