Table of Contents
2. Hareton’s Character
3. Cathy’s character
4. Heathcliff’s Influence
5. The Relationship between Hareton and Cathy
5.1. The Beginning
5.2. After Heathcliff’s Death
6. Cathy’s powerful influence
8. Works Cited
Wuthering Heights from Emily Brontё is one of the most popular English novels. It is about an orphan named Heathcliff, who wants to take revenge for being mistreated. Two of the most fascinating characters in the novel are Hareton Earnshaw, the son of Hindley and Frances, and Catherine (Cathy) Linton, the daughter of the elder Catherine and Edgar. The development of their characters and their relationship is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel. It starts out with disapproval on both sides, but ends with true love. Especially the influence that Cathy gains over Hareton is remarkably shown in the course of the novel. Together they are able to stand up against Heathcliff’s tyranny. Is Cathy’s powerful character the trigger, which, with Hareton’s support, finally leads to Heathcliff’s resignation?
In this paper I will introduce Hareton and Cathy and explain how their upbringing determined their behaviour. I will then explain Heathcliff’s influence on both characters and the development of the relationship between Cathy and Hareton. I will especially focus on Cathy’s powerful nature.
2. Hareton’s Character
After his birth and the death of his mother, Hareton is nursed by Nelly Dean and neglected by his father during his first five years. He gets to see many terrible things, is sometimes punished violently (Brontё 71f) and is even insulted and almost killed by his own father (74ff). Heathcliff saves him after falling out of the window, which might be the beginning of his desire to care for Hareton after Hindley’s death. When he takes care of him, he decides to take revenge at Hindley through his degrading. Hindley had already mortgaged all his land to Heathcliff, so after his death, Hareton was the owner of the Heights, but already with a lot of debt (186).
The Hareton met by Lockwood in the opening chapters is gruff and uncommunicative and he is easily angered or disturbed by Lockwood's misunderstanding of the household relationships. Lockwood describes him: “his dress and speech were both rude, entirely devoid of the superiority observable in Mr and Mrs Heathcliff; his thick, brown curls were rough and uncultivated, his whiskers encroached bearishly over his cheeks, and his hands were embrowned like those of a common labourer: still his bearing was free, almost haughty, and he showed none of a domestic’s assiduity in attending on the lady of the house.” (12)
Hareton is almost a mirror image of the younger Heathcliff. “But in every important way, Hareton is unlike Heathcliff. Instead of growing to hate the man who degrades and deprives him, he loves him, defends him, and laments his death.” (Hardy 46) His degradation has not deprived him from love. Heathcliff is unable to get below the surface and while Hareton’s outward behaviour might suggest a lack of character, he responds to Cathy's beauty and love by striving to improve his mind. Hareton understands Heathcliff, because his own experience has allowed him to view the world from Heathcliff's position. Hareton in the end shows the power of love and kindness and defeats hate and vengeance.
Heathcliff teaches him to swear, does not educate him properly and treats him like a servant. Still Hareton likes him (110), probably because Heathcliff does not hurt him like Hindley did. Additionally, his speech even gets similar to that of Joseph, who also supports and cares for him (144, 175), but, on the other hand, “allowed that he was ruined” (197). Hareton is brought up like a servant, so therefore he is used to being dominated by his first master Heathcliff. He only accepts Cathy as his second master, because he loves her. When Hareton loves someone, he agrees to being dominated by this person.
3. Cathy’s character
Cathy is the daughter of Edgar and Catherine, who dies at her birth. She grows up isolated at Thrushcross Grange, almost never leaving the estate as a child. While Hareton is deprived of everything but affection, Cathy is deprived of nothing, even spoiled. Nelly describes her as “the most winning thing that ever brought sunshine into a desolate house – a real beauty in face – […]. Her spirit was high, though not rough, and qualified by a heart, sensitive and lively to excess in its affections.” (Brontё 189) For Nelly she is almost a second edition of her mother, but “she did not resemble her; for she could be soft and mild as a dove, and she had a gentle voice, and pensive expression: her anger was never furious; her love never fierce; it was deep and tender” (189). Although her father does not allow her to leave the Grange, she is very curious about the outside world and constantly asks about it. She has the constant care and love of her father and of her nurse Nelly. Cathy does not know very much about the outside world and for her Wuthering Heights does not exist. Despite her protection and her civilised background she displays parts of her mother's personality as she wants to explore the country beyond the Grange. She is curious about everything new and only wants to follows her own rules.
When Lockwood first enters the Heights he gets to know Cathy: “She was slender, and apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form, and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the pleasure of beholding: small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets, or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck; and eyes – had they been agreeable in expression, they would have been irresistible – …” (Brontё 11). Although she is beautiful, she behaves extremely rude towards Lockwood. She snaps at Lockwood when he attempts to help her and flings the tea back when she discovers that he was not invited. One reason for this might be that she has already lived under Heathcliff’s influence for several years. She learnt how be thick-headed and not submissive. Nelly later also describes her as naughty and hot tempered, because she wants everything in her way, like writing letters to Linton and visiting him (224). Cathy here already shows a lot of her powerful character. She wants to be the dominant ruler who can decide about everything.
“Young Cathy Linton’s nature is similar to that of her mother: she is lively, agile (she delights in swinging from tree branches twenty feet from the ground), pert, affectionate but not always gentle (she awakens Nelly by pulling her hair), proud of her strong emotions and healthy spirits; but the important difference between Cathy and her mother is Cathy’s ability to care about hurting people, in the sense of not wanting to hurt them, and her ability to suffer at the hands of others without feeling the need for revenge. [...] This shows a complete reversal of her mother’s feelings, for Catherine felt that others should suffer at the very least as much as herself.” (Smith, 220) For example, after hurting Linton she weeps “at the mischief she had done” (Brontё 239), she also can forgive. Throughout the novel she shows very intense feelings towards other people: she is very close to her father whom she loves extremely, but also towards Linton and Hareton. Her feelings towards those two range from spontaneous hatred to true love. Linton is her only real playmate, with whom she can talk about literature. She does not really love him, but lacks a better alternative, which Hareton in the beginning is not. On the one hand, Cathy feels sad about Linton’s illness, but on the other hand, she is angry about his constant indifference and his fear of Heathcliff (Brontё 266). Her marriage to Linton is the turning point in her development, because it shows the many sides of her personality. She is not the nice and lively girl any more, but also displays pity, anger, patience and genuine care for Linton. She ridicules Hareton together with Linton and has to make essential decisions, when Heathcliff locks her in. She has to be self-confident and strong throughout her upbringing.