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MAJOR CHARACTERS. CATHERINE. Repeatedly associated with fire, burning and fever She longs to be “in the earth” Symbolically is the fire or spark that animates his being—”the unbridled life force of nature (windy and rainy moors of WH) Says herself, she is Heathcliff

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  • Repeatedly associated with fire, burning and fever
  • She longs to be “in the earth”
  • Symbolically is the fire or spark that animates his being—”the unbridled life force of nature (windy and rainy moors of WH)
  • Says herself, she is Heathcliff
  • Internal conflict—2 opposing aspects of personality
  • Wild, willful, spirited
  • YET, desires refinement and wealth symbolized by cultivated park and ordered domestic splendor of TG
  • Conflict seen in relationships with Heathcliff (UNBRIDLED NATURE) and Edgar (RESTRAINED NURTURE)
  • Conflict culminates in Chapter 13 when she leaps into Heathcliff’s arms—rejects her weakness for Edgar’s refinement and wealth and reclaims the vital, NATURAL, UNBRIDLED force of her personality = Heathcliff
  • Spiritually reunited with Heathcliff, but not physically
  • As Catherine vows to haunt him and drive him mad, we see Catherine as FORCE FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE=transformation from natural to supernatural
  • Described as sullen, patient, hardened, morose, suspicious and dark and melancholic (Byronic?)and often savage
  • Associated with both natural and supernatural agents of evil—wolves and goblins
  • BUT CONTRADICTORY—sensitive, vulnerable, and capable of deep love
  • Abandoned by parents, hardened by adversity
  • Better qualities subverted by everyone around him—Mr. E., Mrs. E., Hindley resents, bullies and degrades him, Lintons treat him as outcast (social prejudice), Joseph calls him a devil
  • Bronte careful to temper our dislike of his cruelties by leading us to sympathize with him as we find out about how he has been mistreated by Hindley (in Catherine’s diary)
  • Symbolically he is the earth with which Catherine longs to be united
  • Admits that Catherine is his life and soul
  • An Old Testament kind of VENGEANCE extending to include even the supposedly innocent children --”only God can punish”
contradictory traits
Contradictory traits


  • Boorish and “bordering on repulsive”
  • YET, hints at nobility of nature when offers to guide Lockwood home in storm

MRS. HEATHCLIFF (younger Cathy)

  • Fair, flaxen-haired,spirited
  • YET, marred by a scornful disposition and “a kind of desperation”


  • Hypocrite—ostensibly devout
  • YET, thoroughly mean-spirited


  • Claims to be a misanthropist and tired of society
  • YET, a careful observer, insightful judge of character and witty ironist


  • Desolate, windy moors, treacherous in initial winter scenes
  • YET, closely associated with FREEDOM AND PASSIONATE LOVE
  • Interior of WH—well-furnished, warm and comfortable
  • YET, atmosphere is a psychological torture chamber
  • First of the novel’s 2 central narrators
  • Supposedly a London sophisticate
  • Witty and ironical
  • Unknowledgeable outsider (Nelly the knowledgeable insider)
  • Natural curiosity about new neighbors and their “queer goings on” makes him cross the threshold and delve deeper into their tumultuously passionate history
  • We share in his wonder as he pieces together relationships of the two houses
  • We cross with him from the realm of observable phenomena and pursue the “less palpable wilds” as he dreams in Catherine’s bed early in the novel
  • We enter the worlds of the subconscious and the supernatural and move with him along the lines of mystery and suspense
  • Second of novel’s narrators
  • Knowledgeable insider
  • Takes part in almost every scene of story
  • Alert, observant, prying, gossipy, slightly superstitious, bold, saucy, tolerant, motherly
  • Witness and chorus
  • As WITNESS, --honest reporter,BUT also opinionated and occasionally strongly biased.
  • As CHORUS--Admits she doesn’t like Catherine “after her infancy had past”
  • Believes reasons for Catherine’s reasons for marrying Edgar are wicked and unprincipled—are they?
  • Calm, cool, stolid traits mark him as a phlegmatic personality
  • Associated with elements of water—streams that flow down through the park of TG
  • Outcome of union with Catherine is what happens when fire and water come together
  • Sanguine, airy disposition
  • No match for Heathcliff’s melancholic, earthy nature
characters both symbolic and real
Characters both symbolic and real
  • i.e., supernatural elements always introduced with a degree of skepticism

1.Catherine’s ghost appears in Lockwood’s dream—

  • Is it real or merely a projection of his overactive imagination?
  • Effect of apparition on Heathcliff, THOUGH, is very real

2. Heathcliff’s personality seems exaggerated to superhuman, demonic extremes

  • but Bronte makes him believale by showing us the inhuman, satanic forces that perverted his character when he was a child
conflicts internal and external
ConflictsInternal and External
  • Catherine’s internal conflict
  • External conflict –Hindley and Heathcliff mutual hatred and determination to undo each other
  • Hindley—feeling usurped as object of his father’s affections, seeks revenge—

First, by bullying Heathcliff

Later, by physically oppressing him

Hindley succeeds here, IRONICALLY, brings about his own downfall and strengthen’s Heathcliff’s bitter resolve for vengeance.