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Compare The Three Women Characters In Wuthering Heights Essay, Research Paper

“Wuthering Heights”, written by Emily Bronte, is the story of two households, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and the various attemps of the inhabitants of each house to unite these two manors. The female protagonists of the novel are mainly three: Catherine Earnshaw, her daughter Cathy, and Isabella Heathcliff. These three women are binded together, but are also very different from one another, as their lives begin from the same starting point, and slowly evolve towards different ways.

Catherine Earnshaw is a very complex character, and throughout the novel her duplicity is clearly defined; she appears to be aggressive and arrogant, but at rare times she resembles a real lady with good manners. Catherine’s struggle throughout her life is that between her love for Heathcliff, the orphan boy adopted by her father when she was just six, and the desire of a glamorous life at the Grange, next to Edgar Linton. Catherine goes through many changes in the course of the novel, and there are four main parts where the duplicity of her character is shown.

The first episode is when Catherine and Heathcliff are still young, and they go to the Grange to see how Edgar and Isabella, the two Lintons, pass their days. Catherine’s ankle is wounded by the Linton’s dog, and she is forced to stay at Thrushcross Grange until she is able to walk again; five weeks pass, and when she comes back to the Heights, she is a different person : “instead of a wild, hatless savage”, she has become “a very dignified person”, influenced by the world at the Grange. Catherine “had no temptation to show her rough side in their (the Lintons) company….she gained the admiration of Isabella, and the heart and soul of her brother:acquisition that flattered her from the first, for she was full of ambition, and led her to adopt a double character…”. It is from this moment that Catherine is torn between Heathcliff and her new friends: she is intrigued by the wonderful world of Edgar and Isabella, but she still maintains her friendship with Heathcliff, therefore developing a double character which will remain with her throughout her life.

One of the most important parts of the novel is Catherine’s confession of her love for Heathcilff: she has just accepted Edgar’s proposal of marriage, but she confesses that Heathcliff shall never know how much she loves him; “he is more myself than Iam. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”. In this part, we learn Catherine’s intentions of marrying Edgar, and also her love for Heathcliff, which is so strong that she compares it to an indestructible rock.

Heathcliff runs away from the Heights when hearing of Caherine’s marriage, and as soon as the wedding is celebrated, Catherine goes to live at the Grange, in the world which she had dreamt of so often. After three years, Heathcliff returns and this causes Catherine’s illness, in which she becomes delirious; she claims that, by becoming the lady of the Grange, she has also become “the wife of a stranger:an exile, and outcast…”. She wishes she was a child, “half savage and hardy, and free”; she feels that the world of the Grange which she had aspired for is in reality a prison, and she wishes to be freed from it. In these agonizing moments her true feelings come out, along with the realisation that she belongs to Wuthering Heights, not Thrushcross Grange: “I’m sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills”. Catherine orders the window to be opened, and when this is denied to her she claims: “You won’t give me a chance of life…”. Life for her is outside the walls of the Grange, the prison in which she has lived for three years. Catherine’s death is approaching, and it is more similar to a suicide than to a real illness; she is letting herself die willingly: “the thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all. I’m tired if being enclosed here.”

Isabella, Edgar’s sister, has fallen in love with Heathcliff since the day he has returned. Contrarily to Edgar’s and Catherine’s recommandations, she has escaped with Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights during Caterine’s illness; with this act, she has obtained her brothers disownement, and her own alienation from the Grange. Isabella is the opposite of Catherine, who describes her as “spoiled…and fancy the world was made for (Isabella’s) accomodation”. Isabella is very naive, as she doesn’t understand that what Heathcliff wants by marrying her is revenge on Catherine and her husband. She has always lived at the Grange with Edgar, who adores her, and her sister-in-law, and the outside world is something she has never come to know. As soon as she marries Heathcliff, she she realises the mistake she has made: in a letter she writes to Nelly, the maid, she explains how her heart “returned to Thrushcross grange in twenty-four hours after I left it, and is there at this moment, full of warm feelings for him (Edgar) and Catherine!”.

Catherine and Isabella, though being different in characters, are similar in their attemps to run away from their world, this being the Grange for Isabella and the Heights for Catherine. Both of the women are doomed to be lonely out of the place where they belong, as they are also doomed to never return to the manors where their hearts lie. As the Grange is a prison for Catherine, Wuthering Heights turn out to be a prison for Isabella, who is kept there by Heathcliff ; both of the women realise that they don’t belong to the man they have married when it is too late. Catherine escapes her prison through death, and Isabella manages to escape Wuthering Heights with her son, though neither of the women ever managed to return to their houses. What binds Catherine and Isabella together is not only their fate, but also the two men that belong in their lives: Edgar and Heathcliff, who they have both loved in differnt ways. Just as Isabella has married Catherine’s love, Catherine was married to the olnly man Isabella truly adores, though in just a brotherly way; when talking to her son, the only man Isabella will ever mention is Edgar.

When Catherine was still alive, Isabella and her did not have a confidential relationship, due to their difference in character. However, since Isabella got married, she developed a feeling for her sister-in-law similar to the adoration she had for her brother: when Heathcliff insults Edgar, Isabella replies: “Catherine and Edgar are as fond of each other a stwo people can be…no one has the right to talk in that manner and I won’t hear my brother depreciated in silence!” . Even when Isabella visits Nelly right before escaping, she “stepped on a chair, kissed Edgar’s and Catherine’s portraits…”. With Isabella’s marriage to Heathcliff, she has realised that she really belongs to the Grange, next to Edgar and Catherine, who she has grown to adore.

Catherine Linton is born on the same night that her mother dies, and from that day she lives at the Grange with her father and Nelly. Since the day of her birth, Cathy is kept enclosed in the world of the Grange by her father, who wants to protect her from the cruelties of the outside world. Cathy grows up to be a strong, healthy child, who is curious to find out what lies behind the walls of the Grange. When Isabella dies, her son Linton is brought to Thrushcross Grange by Edgar, but as soon as Heathcliff learns this, Linton moves to Wuthering Heights. Cathy becomes tired of being secluded in her home, and manages to send some letters to her cousin Linton; however, she is soon discovered and is foced to stop her correspondance. Heathcliff himself convinces Nelly to let Cathy visit her cousin, and in one of these visits, Nelly and Cathy are locked in Wuthering Heights by Heathcliff. Cathy agrees to marry Linton, and then escapes to tha Grange just as her father is dying. Heathcliff is now the owner of both manors, and Cathy moves in Wuthering Heights after the death of Linton. She has become a very different Cathy in the Heights, aggressive and mean: when the neighbor, Lockwood,first meets her, she is hostile to him, showing how much she has changed from the cheerful Cathy she was before. Cathy resembles her mother and Isabella in her endeavour to break out from the “prison” her father has created around her. She, too, tries to escape from the Grange, finding only cruelty and hatred; in this way, she is binded to Isabella and Catherine, for all three have escaped a world which they thought was not right for them. However, the only one who has managed to return to her home has been Cathy, and in this she is different from her mother and her aunt. After Heathcliff’s death, Cathy moves back to the Grange with her cousin Hareton, uniting once and for all Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, and manages to do what Catherine and Isabella were never able to accomplish.

Isabella, Catherine and her daughter at first follow the same path: they all escape from their respective homes into a world they have always held curiosity for. However, they soon realise that they really belong to their houses, and have lived in the illusion that their neighboring manor had a better life to offer them. At this point, they feel trapped, and manage to escape through different ways: Catherine lets herself die, Isabella leaves with her child, and Cathy is let free after Heathcliff’s death. The fate of these three women is tied between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange; in different ways, they all escape from the prisons they have willingly led themselves into. Cathy, however, is the only one who accomplishes her dream: to go back to her house, after the two houses have finally been united.


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