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

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  • 0:04 Dysfunctional Relationship
  • 0:41 Happy Childhood
  • 1:15 Jealousy
  • 2:12 Grasping for a Ghost
  • 2:42 Analysis
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
Middle-school angst has nothing on the love story of Catherine and Heathcliff in Emily Bronte's famous novel ''Wuthering Heights.'' Heathcliff drives his love to the point of illness and death, but never gives up on her ghost.

Dysfunctional Relationship

In Emily Bronte's famous novel Wuthering Heights, the relationship between the two main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine, is nothing shy of tragic. In their youth, it seems that the two are destined for each other, as they are clearly quite smitten with one another. As the book progresses, however, miscommunication and jealousy creep into the relationship, ending with tragedy and Heathcliff's desire to spend the rest of his soul's existence with her spirit.

In this lesson, we will take a look at each stage of the relationship, watching as it deteriorates and causes Heathcliff to lose touch with his sanity.

Happy Childhood

Catherine was born into an affluent family, while Heathcliff was an orphan that Catherine's father found in a train station. He decided to give the boy a chance at a better life by bringing him home with him. Despite being from vastly different social castes, Heathcliff and Catherine could not help but spend every waking minute with one another. In one passage, it's revealed that the worst punishment for Catherine was 'to keep her separate from him.' Still, it's clear that there is some element of aggravation present. No one gets under Catherine's skin quite like Heathcliff.


As was an almost universal theme of the Victorian period, it soon comes time for Catherine to start thinking about marriage. Heathcliff overhears only part of a conversation in which Catherine admits that it would be a disgrace to her social position to marry him, a fact that causes him to lose all control over his emotions and run away and leave the family. Nevertheless, she does say, when he is not present to hear it, that she only loves him. Famously, she states that her soul is the same as his, and she says: 'I am Heathcliff.'

Fast forward a few years, and Heathcliff returns, this time a wealthy man. The problem is that Catherine has married Edgar Linton. While not really happy in the relationship, Catherine is made more miserable by Heathcliff's decision to marry Edgar's sister Isabella. Heathcliff dotes on Isabella for the purpose of making Catherine jealous. Tragically, Catherine grows ill and dies.

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