CATHERINE is the heart and hinge of the novel WUTHERINH HEIGHTS. She is the most dynamic of all the characters like Shakespeare’s heroines Rosalind, Viola, Olivia and Portia, she plays key role in this novel. Her character is a fine amalgamation of diverse qualities. She is kind, compassionate, sober and very conscious of social prestige and status. There is a balance i her character. She is neither an emotional fool nor a die hard obdurate. Reason and emotion are the guiding angles oh her life.
She is the daughter of Earnshaw. Right from her girlhood, she is agile, frivolous, naughty and flamboyant. She does not at first feel happy to see the gypsy boy, Heathcliff in her house. She neither hates nor likes Heathcliff but with the passage of time Catherine’s feelings towards Heathcliff mellowed and she began to love him. She developed weakness for him and her love gradually grew more and more. And no wonder her consuming love for Heathcliff became a passion without which she could not live. The harsh and brazen treatment of her brother brought clouds of gloom but the sunlight of her love dispelled the gloom.
Catherine is much worried about the predicament of Heathcliff. The reason is she has completely identified herself with the feelings and emotions of Heathcliff. She candidly says, “My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries”. But despite her sincere and passionate love she married Edgar Linton. On this score her character seems to be enigmatic. And because of her peculiar character she is under flak. However, her prudence, her quickness of mind and her potentialities are the hallmarks of her character. In spite of all these plus points there is an apparent split in her character. she has given body to Linton and her soul craves for Heathcliff. Her concept of marriage and love is really a riddle. She feels that marriage is only for getting social status. Love, she believes, is lasting and eternal. She discriminates between the love of Heathcliff and the live of Linton. She forcefully says, “Linton’s love is like a foliage that wither away, but Heathcliff love is like a rock”. In brief, her love is the love of soul which knows no decay.
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Although her conjugal with Edgar Linton is very happy yet Heathcliff come back after a lapse of three years inflames the fire of her passionate love and Catherine is so much so excited, thrilled and buoyed with joy that for the time being she forgets that she is Catherine Linton. Heathcliff’s frequent visits give her delectable delight. It is really an anodyne of her love. But it is very irksome for Edgar Linton and it is but natural. On the other hand this outlook of Edgar Linton makes her sick at heart. She stops taking foods and drinks and at last she falls ill.
Catherine’s love is unique. Her love craves for spiritual consummation. She believes that Heathcliff’s love is a paradise to her. She loves him more than her husband. Her love is pure and chaste. And no wonder she tries to keep her body and soul together. The other striking features of her character are her iron determination. She is self built, impulsive, boisterous and volatile. When Linton tries to foist his decision and to deprive her of the pleasures of the company Heathcliff, she feels imposed upon and shows her tacit resentment. Her spirit does not give into the wishes and the desires of Linton. Her soul is free to soar like a skylark in the sky and true she becomes the martyr of love.
The elb and flaw of Catherine’s life, her joys and pangs, her vicissitudes and her tragic death evoke our pity. Her life before marriage and after has a different shade. In the beginning she is frivolous, mischievous, smart, jovial and happy go lucky. But after marriage there is a sea change in her character. Her journey’s end creates tragic atmosphere and the critics who criticize her for her adulteress nature, finally change their opinion. They now have all praise for ceaseless quest of her soul’s union. Emily Bronte has portrayed her character with much brilliance, with much interest and in a poetic language.