Abstract:Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is not only filled with strong spirit of anti-oppression and striving for happiness but also shrouded in romantic atmosphere of odd and strain. In the novel, the heroine Catherine Earnshaw’s unique character makes a deep impression to us. The major concern of my graduating paper is the analysis of Catherine’s self -contradicting love by her nature and social environment to explore the inevitability of Catherine’s collapse of spirit and self-destruction. Thus we can understand the character and get inspiration.
Key words: Emily Bronte, Catherine Earnshaw, self-contradicting love
As the undisputed genius among the Bronte sisters, Emily Bronte (1818-1848) produced only one novel and a few poems. Yet with her unique writing devices, she became one of the most famous English women writers in the 19th century. Her masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, which was created against the social background of the struggle between the working class and capitalists, is the story filled up with peculiarities and passion.
In this novel, Emily created the heroine Catherine Earnshaw, a complicated figure with two contradicting views of love with her. With an interpretation of the text, this paper aims to analyze Catherine’s self-contradicting love, which is driven by two opposing forces: the untamed desire in her nature, and the genteel domestic order of a civilized society at that time.
In the book Introducing Literary Studies, Bradford Richard comments that “Wuthering Heights is in many ways the most disturbingly modern work of Victoria fiction, open-ended in the theme if not in plot, full of imaginative tension, posing questions rather than offering answers”(Richard 276). In the periodical Charming China, Lu Wang-shun notices Catherine's sophisticate personality, the wild and free minded nature and her desire of fame and wealth, which all contributes to the contradictions in Wuthering Heights (Lu 169). Sandra M. Gilbert suggests in the book Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights that the two houses – the bleak Wuthering Heights and the cultured or genteel Thrushcross Grange – are just like the earth’s two poles, which are opposed to each other and both lead to the fall of Catherine Earnshaw. (Gilbert 89). Dorothy Van Ghent analyses the love between Catherine and Heathcliff by borrowing a line from the poet John Crowe Ransom describing lovers in the hell: “They rend each other when they kiss.” (Ghent 14) This is neither a romantic love nor something based on sexuality. He even thinks their love is never that of “adult” due to their passion without any domestic and social responsibilities.