Love is one of the focal points of Wuthering Heights, a classical novel by Emily Brontë. The author explores multiple characters’ affairs. She creates a narrative which describes the romantic involvement through generations. One of them, Catherine Earnshaw, truly loved Heathcliff. But she never managed to be with him due to the different social statuses.
Emily Brontë presents readers with a complicated and intricate story. She tells us about cruelty, love, and horror in her iconic book, Wuthering Heights. Lockwood discovers the story of Nelly Dean, the mansion’s servant. His narrative shifts its focus to the past. The servant tells a tale of multiple generations of drama, romantic triangles, and revenge. One of the prominent characters involved in the main romantic plotline is Catherine Earnshaw. The main question about her motives is love. Precisely, the mystery of her genuine romantic interest.
Catherine is the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw, a wealthy owner of Wuthering Heights. Her father brings Heathcliff, an orphan, to their family as an adopted son. She falls in love with him. Mr. Earnshaw favors his adopted son over his other child, Hindley. It provokes a conflict between them. Upon the father’s death, Hindley denies an adopted brother all the privileges. He makes the orphan the manor’s servant out of revenge and jealousy. Unable to marry him, Catherine engages with a wealthy man, Edgar.
The obvious answer to the question would be that Catherine loved Edgar since she married him. But she was not able to dedicate her life to Heathcliff. However, the gothic novel explores the issues of class and personal benefit over love. All her life, Catherine shows apparent love for Heathcliff, and her feelings are mutual. We can see it in their behavior and actions. Despite being of different upbringings, they appear as soulmates with the same values and beliefs. It makes them a perfect couple.
However, there is a significant barrier between them that is impossible to overcome. Incompatible social statuses play a huge role. For Catherine, abandoning family status and marrying Heathcliff would mean a lifetime of disgrace. She could not take it. There is also an aspect of a comfortable life that, perhaps, played a role in her choice. She is a person of high social status, which brings her a wealth of privilege.
Becoming Heathcliff’s wife would mean leaving behind all the comfort that she grew up in and got used to. She did not want to be her brother’s servant as well. Her final decision was to marry Edgar instead of her true love, Heathcliff, to maintain her social status. Class was crucially important in marriage during the Victorian era. It comes as no surprise that the author decided to portray her time’s realities.
This choice was supposed to provide materialistic joy to Catherine. She soon discovers that this life is no match with the care that Heathcliff could have provided her with. Although she continues to enjoy the rich life, she finds no joy in this lifestyle. As a result of her marriage, the novel also takes a dark turn, leading Heathcliff to seek revenge.