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With self - Internal conflict Catherine‟s major conflict with her self is evident when she is confused about marrying Edgar as she loves Heathcliff. “In whichever place the soul lives-in my soul, and in my heart, I‟m convinced I‟m wrong!” She knows that she and Heathcliff are the same self (“he‟s more myself than I am”) and yet she feels that “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff”. “I want to cheat my uncomfortable conscience” “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods…My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath- a source of little visible delight, but necessary...Nelly, I am Heathcliff” “Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing, before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff!” During her delirious state, Catherine is unable to recognize herself in a mirror.
With self – Values When Heathcliff returns after an absence of 3 years, Catherine tends to ignore her Victorian values and keeps up an association with him, even though Edgar dislikes this and this makes him ask “Do you love that wretch Heath-” but she tells him to be silent. “I‟d rather see Edgar at bay than you” (to Heathcliff) During her illness, she tells Edgar that she does not need him “Well might Catherine deem that heaven would be land of exile to her, unless, with her mortal body, she cast away her mortal character also”
With self- Motivations Catherine tries to be on good terms with Heathcliff due to her old friendship with him but she wants to make a good impression on Linton “for when Heathcliff expressed contempt of Linton, in her presence, she could not half coincide, as she did in his absence; and when Linton evinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, she dared not treat his sentiments with indifference, as if depreciation of her old playmate were of scarcely any consequence to her” Catherine‟s motivations for marrying Edgar are to gain a higher status in society even though her heart is against marrying Edgar. According to Nelly, “You love Mr. Edgar because he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and rich, and loves you.” “…did it never strike you that, if Heathcliff and I were married, we should be beggars? Whereas, if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise , and place him out of my brother‟s power” and according to Nelly this is the “worst motive” that Catherine has given for marrying Edgar.
With self – Desires At first, Catherine desires to achieve a high social standing by marrying Edgar At the time of her illness, Catherine‟s ultimate desire is to be reunited with Heathcliff and for this she forsakes Edgar and all her previous wishes to have a higher social standing . “Heathcliff..they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church over me; but I wont rest till you ae with me…I never will!” Catherine badly wants to escape this world during her illness:- “I‟m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there…really with it and in it”
Others- Heathcliff (ally) Catherine‟s conflict with Heathcliff is on a social scale and the first signs of this conflict appear when Catherine returns after her transformation, from Thrushcross Grange after a stay of 5 weeks. “He might well sulk behind the settle on beholding such a bright, graceful damsel enter the house, instead of a rough-headed counterpart to himself as he expected” The physical manifestation of this conflict is when in chapter 8, Heathcliff tells her that she prefers the Lintons over him and they quarrel. She says to him “You might be dumb or a baby for anything you say to amuse me, or for anything you do, either!” “You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff!”
With others- Isabella:Catherine‟s conflict with Isabella is a minor one as Isabella appears as a rival to her when it comes to their affections for Heathcliff. Catherine‟s discomfort is obvious when Heathcliff thinks about marrying Isabella and he tells her this:“ I‟m not your husband, you needn‟t be jealous of me!”
With the environment When Catherine returns transformed after a stay of 5 weeks at Thrushcross Grange, her new dressing and style is at conflict with the environment of Wuthering Heights. Her arrogance is disliked by the servants. When Catherine moves to Thrushcross Grange, her rebellious spirit is not in tune with the calm and peaceful atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange.- “I wish I were out of doors – I wish I were a girl again, half savage, hardy and free…Why am I so changed? Why does my blood rush into a hell of tumult at a few words?”
With Destiny - Purpose At first Catherine‟s apparent purpose is to be on good terms with the Lintons and to marry Edgar and marry Edgar gain a better social standing and for this she decides to give up marrying Heathcliff even though she loves him. Later Catherine‟s apparent purpose is to be reunited with Heathcliff and for this she consents to forsake her relationship with Edgar and puts up a conflict against her married life. “They were too much absorbed in their mutual joy to suffer embarrassment; not so Mr Edgar; he grew pale with pure annoyance…” “Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend – if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I‟ll try to break their hearts by breaking my own.”
Destiny - Aspirations Catherine‟s aspirations are to marry Edgar to gain a higher social standing. Catherine wants to be (with) Heathcliff forever:- “I only wish us never to be parted” Catherine wants escape from this world because she says that in the next one she would be “incomparably beyond” and “above” everyone else.
With destiny - Transcendence Catherine‟s transforms into a much more “dignified” girl when she returns from a stay of 5 weeks at Thrushcross Grange. This shows that she has foregone her previous wild spirit. Nelly describes her during her illness as “there seemed unearthly beauty in her change. The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy and melancholy softness: they no longer gave the impression of looking at the objects around here; they appeared always to gaze beyond, and far beyond – you would have said out of this world…stamped her as one doomed to decay. Even though Catherine‟s doom is obvious, in this state she feels that she is as close to achieving her final destination that she actually mocks Nelly with the following words “I shall be sorry for you. I shall be incomparably beyond you and above you all.”
With destiny – Self actualizationIn chapter 9, Catherine looks at her love for Edgar and Heathcliff with a wider perception: “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton‟s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” “My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff‟s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger. I should not seem part of it. My love for Linton is like a foliage in the woods. Time will change it...My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath – a source of little visible delight but necessary. Nelly I am Heathcliff ”
CHANGE When Catherine is given “fine clothes” and “flattery” she “readily” submits to the change and transforms into a much more “graceful” girl without any hesitation When Catherine‟s inner conflict arises when Edgar asks her to marry her, her love for Heathcliff comes in the way, but she submits to her aspirations for a higher social standing and marries Edgar. Concerning Heathcliff‟s absence, when he returns Catherine says: “The event of this evening has reconciled me to God and humanity. I had risen in angry rebellion against Providence” However, when Heathcliff returns, she rebels against Edgar‟s dislike for him and continues to keep up an association with him. On this starts a moral conflict with Edgar
When Heathcliff returns, and Edgar does not approve of him coming to Thrushcross Grange, Catherine rebels against this and goes into wild states of rage and delirium and decides to shut herself up in her room:- “Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend – if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I‟ll try to break their hearts by breaking my own.”- “I‟m in danger of being seriously ill…I want to frighten him”- “your veins are full of ice-water, but mine are boiling, and the sight of such chilliness makes them dance.”- “I don‟t want you Edgar; I‟m past wanting you…”
Heathcliff tells her that she “betrayed her own heart” “I have not broken your heart …You have broken it, and in breaking it, you have broken mine” “…you loved me - then what right had you to leave me?.. - for the poor fancy you felt for Linton”
Contradictions: Catherine‟s transformation into a graceful girl after her stay at Thrushcross Grange is a contradiction against her wild spirit and nature. Catherine tells Nelly that she and Heathcliff are “inseparable” and yet she feels that it would “degrade” her to marry Heathcliff Even though Catherine says that she loves Edgar, her actions during her married life, contradict her. Catherine is unable to recognize her own self in a mirror and she appears very “weak” as she herself confesses, in her delirium, and this is a contradiction against her previous strong character. Catherine blames Heathcliff and other factors for their separation but actually it is she herself who is responsible for it “Because misery, or degradation, and death, and nothing that God or satan inflicted, could have parted us, you, of your own will did it”
When they are both children, Nelly perceives Catherine to be too wild and high spirited and rebellious:- “…Cathy, who was too mischievous and wayward for a favourite.”- “…she put all of us past our patience fifty times and oftener in a day...her spirits were always at high-water mark…wild, wick slip she was…she meant no harm…”- “…she was defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words…” Nelly‟s tone towards Catherine becomes negative when Catherine returns changed, from Thrushcross Grange after a stay of 5 weeks.- “she dare hardly touch them lest they should fawn her splendid garments”
- “having a world of things to order for her new friends; shecame into the kitchen, once, to speak to her old one,…andshe only stayed to ask what was the matter with him”- “pained to behold Catherine, with dry eyes and anindifferent air…”- “how lightly she dismisses her old playmate‟s troubles. I could not have imagined her to be so selfish.”- “I did not call her unfeeling for long…” Nelly seems impressed by Catherine‟s nature and yet she does not like the way Catherine turns out to be as they grow older:- “and she did turn out to be a haughty, headstrong creature. I own I did not like her…and I vexed her frequently by trying to bring down her arrogance”
- “her ingenious cordiality…”- “for she was full of ambition – and led her to adopt a double character without exactly intending to deceive anyone”- “for when Linton expressed disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, she dared not treat his sentiments with indifference as if depreciation of her playmate were of scarcely any consequence to her” Nelly adopts a counsellor‟s (when she tells her confusion about marrying Edgar) attitude towards Catherine even though she thinks her arrogance should be brought down.- “I‟ve had many a laugh at her perplexities and untold troubles, which she vainly strove to hide from my mockery…but she was so proud, it became really impossible to pity her distress…There was not a soul else that she might fashion into an advisor”
- “I‟ve said I did not love her, and rather relished mortifying her vanity”- “No, she felt small trouble regarding any subject, save her own concerns.”- “I was out of patience with her folly!”- “it only goes to convince me that you are either ignorant of the duties you undertake in marrying; or else that you are a wicked, unprincipled girl.”- “saucier, and more passionate than ever before…she ceased to hold any communication with me, save in the relation of a mere servant…she might trample us like slaves for all he cared!” After Catherine becomes Mrs.Linton, Nelly still does not like her at all, and feels annoyed at and sick of Catherine:- Nelly feels that Edgar and Isabella humour her wishes
- “she could not be called the opposite (of Edgar), yet she seemed to allow herself such wide latitude, that I had little faith in her principles, and still less sympathy for her feelings”- “I did not wish to „frighten‟ her husband, as she did, and multiply his annoyances for the purpose of serving her selfishness”- “She rung the bell till it broke with a twang: I entered leisurely. It was enough to try the temper of a saint, such senseless, wicked rages!” (Nelly does not relaize the seriousness of the situation and adopts a mocking tone towards Catherine)Nelly thinks that Catherine is making up her illness and uses this as an opportunity to get back at Catherine. She taunts herEg. that Edgar is absorbed in his books while she is ill.Eg. “Who is coward now?”
- “…our fiery Catherine was no better than a wailing child!”- “Long enough to live on nothing but cold water and ill- temper” Nelly‟s attitude to Catherine during her illness is reflected in Edgar‟s words to her:“You knew your mistress‟s nature and you encouraged me to harrass her…It was heartless! Months of sickness could not cause such a change” Just before the time of Catherine‟s death, Nelly feels that Catherine is doomed and her tone is not so harsh towards her at this time:- “I know, and to any person who saw her…stamped her as one doomed to decay”
- “Well might Catherine deem that heaven would be land of exile to her, unless, with her mortal body, she cast away her mortal character also” ……………………………………………………………… Nelly is not an omniscient narrator. She reports Catherine‟s interior life only because Catherine confides a lot of her feelings to Nelly as she has no one else to confide in. As Nelly has grown up with Catherine, she has an idea of her nature and how Catherine responds to different situations and considering Catherine‟s environment, Nelly makes speculations about Catherine‟s feelings and presents her human-like judgement about her.
Nelly‟s attitude towards Catherine remains majorly negative throughout Catherine‟s life. The narrator considers Catherine to be more of a fool who is doomed and she also thinks that Catherine‟s lack of moral values make her unfit for heaven. Nelly is not a completely reliable narrator because her judgement is based on what she perceives, and since her attitude towards Catherine is rather biased, we cannot trust her judgements as they do not always reflect what goes on in Catherine‟s life. She does not really understand Catherine‟s feelings for Heathcliff properly or cannot empathize with her at this and this is why her comments about Catherine have a large amount of mockery and satire in them.
It is ironic that when Catherine feels so strongly about her confusion to marry Edgar and her love for Heathcliff “I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth ; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out, into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights where I woke, sobbing for joy...Nelly, I see now you think me a selfish wretch…”, Nelly is unable to empathize with her and considers her feelings “nonsense” The irony here is that Nelly does not understand the complexity of her delirium. Catherine herself says during her illness: I had no command of tongue, or tongue, or brain…You may as well fancy an abyss where I grovelled…you have helped to unsettle me!” while Nelly takes all this non seriously and thinks Catherine is mad: “Perceiving it vain to argue against her insanity… “she has been talking nonsense the whole evening”