Friday, June 26, 2015

Catherine Earnshaw Linton: A Woman to Die For

Catherine, a spoiled selfish, domineering teenager, captured the hearts and minds of the most desirable young men in the neighborhood. Heathcliff, the poor but really hot guy, who she truly loved, and Edgar Linton, the wimpy rich society guy. They both declared Catherine to be the love of their lives. Catherine expected to keep them both and didn't see anything wrong with demanding that they share her affections. She believed she should be able to have them both at her convenience and that they should accommodate her wishes without complaint.

Every time I read Wuthering Heights I have a different opinion of Catherine. I've felt sorry for her for choosing money and position over love. I've felt disgusted at her mindless selfishness and blaming everyone else for her misery. Also, except for the whole dying young part, I've felt envious of her power to attract and sustain the affections of both men, regardless of her bad behavior. I've also felt anger toward her as a woman who had the best position a woman of her time and upbringing could have, but didn't appreciate it. 

Here's the best of what she had: the jewel, the gem, the gold ring; the love of Heathcliff.

Everyone else in the novel describes him as a goblin, a devil, inhuman, evil, a monster because of his perverse cruelty and violence and obvious inability to feel any compassion or empathy whatsoever. The only person he never harmed or threatened was Catherine. In fact, she was the only one who could persuade him to go easy on someone he wanted to hurt. She was special.

Isn't that really every woman's dream? To be the one special person, peerless, revered above all others throughout eternity by the man of her choice with the power to drive a man mad after her death and search obsessively for a glimpse of her ghost and look forward to the day when he will die and join her forever.

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