An Analysis of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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‘A wild, wicked slip…I believe she meant no harm’ Does your opinion of Catherine match Nelly’s assessment in Chapters 1-14?

Catherine Earnshaw, later Linton, is first introduced to the reader by Emily Bronte in Chapter III. Throughout the novel Catherine proves to be a character whose actions and personality can either attract the audience’s sympathies or quickly alienate them. Nelly’s narration dominates the narrative in chapters 1-14 and it is therefore natural that the reader’s views may be tainted to a degree by Nelly’s assessment of Catherine’s character.

Catherine is first referred to in Lockwood’s narration in Chapter III where he encounters her name when he spends a turbulent night at Wuthering Heights. Catherine’s name haunts Lockwood’s sleep as he sees the words ‘Catherine Earnshaw… Catherine Heathcliff… Catherine Linton’ carved numerous times. The haunting quality of Catherine’s name is shown by Bronte’s gothic use of the simile ‘as vivid as spectres’ as these words fill his vision. Lockwood is later confronted by a ghost who sobs the words Catherine Linton as it demands to be let into the house. Indeed this determination to get what she wants is a characteristic of Catherine, which becomes apparent through the remainder of Nelly’s narration as she describes Catherine’s life. This characteristic in particular is a trait that can change the reader’s opinion of Catherine for the worse. However conversely this particular aspect of Catherine’s character can evoke sympathy for her from the reader as it is in part Mr Kenneth’s fault for recommending that ‘she would not bear crossing much; she ought to have her own way’ after her illness in Chapter IX.

Nelly’s opinion that Catherine ‘meant no harm’ is proved particularly accurate in Chapter IX where Catherine approaches Nelly for the first time as a confidant. Catherine’s innocence in the matter she poses to Nelly is demonstrated aptly though her question ‘Where’s Heathcliff?’ Sympathy is evoked for...
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