Catherine Earnshaw Catherine Earnshaw is the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw and his wife; Catherine falls powerfully in love with Heathcliff, the orphan Mr. Earnshaw brings home from Liverpool. She was born at Wuthering Heights and was raised with her brother Hindley. Catherine loves Heathcliff so intensely that she claims they are the same person but does not marry him because Hindley has degraded him after their father's death so her desire for social advancement motivates her to marry Edgar Linton instead, a neighbour from Thrush cross Grange and he is handsome and rich, another reason for Catherine marrying him.
She is quite passionate about Heathcliff though, and does not want to give him up. She becomes ill when Heathcliff and Edgar fight, and dies in childbirth. Catherine is free-spirited, wild, impetuous, and arrogant as a child, she grows up getting everything she wants as Nelly describes in chapter 5, 'A wild, wicked slip she was'. She is given to fits of temper, and she is torn between her wild passion for Heathcliff and her social ambition. She brings misery to both of the men who love her, ultimately; Catherine's selfishness ends up hurting everyone she loves, including herself. As a child Cathy was wild and headstrong and her determination enables her to get everything that she wants.
Although she only loves Heathcliff, she has a choice between him and Edgar Linton, as he too loves her. She chooses Edgar because of his status, but ends up hurting both him and Heathcliff. She dies prematurely after the birth of her daughter Catherine, and it is reputed that her ghost haunted Heathcliff for over eighteen years. Heathcliff is considered to be the main protagonist of the novel so Catherine is the dominant female spirit, which prevails the novel. She is a character dominated by obsession and her single greatest obsession is her love for Heathcliff.
It is this, which gives food to her soul, which controls her life and gives a sense of meaning, purpose and direction to her existence. The love that she professes for Heathcliff is not romantic love, it is an identification, a union of souls-: 'Without Heathcliff's he says, 'The universe would turn to a mighty stranger'. She contrasted the love that she professes for Heathcliff with that she publicly exclaimed for Edgar-: 'My love for Edgar is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff's he also says that Heathcliff is 'More myself than I am' not forgetting that Heathcliff has no status and has been degraded to a servant, a reason she married Edgar and could not marry Heathcliff.
Heathcliff over hears this when Catherine is telling Nelly, 'It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now' and this is his reason for disappearing for three years when he then returns as a gentleman but we never find out what he did within those three years. Catherine's relationship with Heathcliff was established in childhood, Nelly remarked-: 'The greatest punishment we could invent for her, was to keep her separate from him'. Catherine's marriage to Edgar and her rejection of Heathcliff is a rejection of herself. In going to the Grange, she has turned her back, not only on Heathcliff, but on the carefree lifestyle she enjoyed at the Heights. In comparing their souls, she said of Heathcliff-: 'His and mine are the same and Linton's is as different as is moon from lightning or frost from fire.' Catherine knows marrying Edgar is wrong -: 'I'm convinced I'm wrong - I've no more business to marry Edgar than I have to be in heaven' Catherine's illness and death represent perhaps a natural and predictable result of her movement from the Heights to the Grange, by not staying true to her nature and by swapping the outdoor life that she had with Heathcliff for the role as the lady of the manor. Having rejected Heathcliff in favour of marriage to Edgar, she was found by the society in which she lived, once this course was chosen there was no going back, although she realised the error of her ways, she had placed herself in a situation in which death could only extricate her, therefore she was buried at the edge of the kirk yard where the border between it and the surrounding moors was ill-defined.
In death, she had returned to nature and regained her freedom, the dire consequences of her failure to remain loyal to her true self. A significant feature of Catherine's character is the influence she continues to have after her death, like Heathcliff she has a troubled spirit, which torments Heathcliff to the point of madness and even to his own death.