Catherine & Edgar's Relationship in Wuthering Heights: Analysis & Quotes

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  • 0:04 Wuthering Heights by…
  • 0:55 How Catherine Met Edgar
  • 1:28 Edgar vs. HeathCliff
  • 2:51 Catherine's Illness and Death
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

The marriage of Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton rocks both families, but the reasons why Catherine chose Edgar are what really breaks the heart of Heathcliff.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights is an 1847 novel by Emily Brontë. Published the year before she died, Brontë's only novel recounts the stories of the Linton and Earnshaw families, joined with the marriage of Edgar Linton and Catherine Earnshaw.

Wuthering Heights is narrated by Nelly Dean, a servant in Thrushcross Grange, the former home of the Linton family. She previously worked for the Earnshaws in Wuthering Heights, where Heathcliff still lives.

She basically grew up with the three Earnshaw children: abusive, alcoholic Hindley; kind but volatile and snobby Catherine; and the adopted orphan Heathcliff. Catherine eventually becomes Heathcliff's friend, and they fall in love.

But Catherine marries another, the calm and kind Edgar Linton, the heir to Thrushcross Grange. In doing this, she chooses social standing instead of the passion she could have had with Heathcliff. Let's take a look at their relationship closer.

How Catherine Meets Edgar

Edgar is the only son of the Linton family, a family much higher in social class than Catherine's own. Edgar is heir to Thrushcross Grange. Catherine and Edgar meet when Catherine and Heathcliff go down to spy on the children at Thrushcross Grange. There, Catherine gets bit by a dog, and the Lintons take her in while she recovers. She stays with the Lintons for five weeks.

At Thrushcross Grange, Catherine is transformed from a rather wild child into a proper young lady. When she returns, the Linton family arrives for a visit. Though Heathcliff and Edgar fight, Catherine makes a good impression.

Edgar vs. Heathcliff

Years pass, and Edgar courts Catherine, though she retains the upper hand in the relationship. Nelly comments about the control Catherine seems to have over Edgar, ''He possessed the power to depart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten.'' Though Catherine is wild and even hits him, he can't walk away from her, even though it is no secret that she loves another.

Catherine explains how she loves Edgar to Nelly, ''My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees.'' Nelly doesn't buy it, and eventually Catherine admits that it is Heathcliff she loves, not Edgar.

One night, after a particularly horrible drunken rage by her brother Hindley, Catherine comes to talk to Nelly in the kitchen.

Catherine tells Nelly that Edgar has proposed to her. Catherine tells Nelly she loves Edgar but isn't sure about marrying him. She says, ''I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now.''

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