Comparing Catherine & Cathy in Wuthering Heights

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Beautiful, smart, and temperamental are all words that can be used to describe both Catherine and Cathy. In this lesson, we will compare Cathy Linton Earnshaw to her mother, Catherine Earnshaw Linton from ''Wuthering Heights'' by Emily Bronte.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Who in your family are you most like? Catherine_, the wife of Edgar Linton, but loved by Heathcliff, dies as a teenager while giving birth to Cathy. Although Catherine had no hand in raising her, Cathy is similar to her mother in a variety of ways. Let's examine the commonalities and differences between Catherine and Cathy in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Headstrong and Temperamental

When Lockwood first visits Wuthering Heights, he notes an exchange between the young girl, Cathy, that lives there and Heathcliff. Cathy says, 'I'll put my trash away, because you can make me if I refuse,…But I'll not do anything, though you should swear your tongue out, except what I please!' Even though Cathy does not know her mother, their stubbornness, even at their own expense, is marked. Nelly remembers Catherine saying, 'At fifteen she was the queen of the country-side; she had no peer; and she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature!'

It is evident to Lockwood as Cathy flinches that Heathcliff beats her, just like Joseph, the self-righteous servant, once punished Heathcliff and Catherine as children, but neither child's behavior is changed in any way from the harsh punishments. Just as Cathy taunted Heathcliff, Catherine thought the '…punishment…a mere thing to laugh at.'

Both women can be described as passionate, inspiring deep responses from the men who love them; however, Cathy is more sensitive than her mother, perhaps because of the influence of her more sensitive father. When comparing the two, Nelly says, 'That capacity for intense attachments reminded me of her mother: still 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.'


Although their appearance is somewhat different, Cathy inherits a few of her mother's attributes. Nelly describes Cathy as 'a real beauty in face, with the Earnshaws' handsome dark eyes, but the Lintons' fair skin and small features, and yellow curling hair.'

When Heathcliff recognizes the similarities between Cathy and her mother it softens him. Heathcliff no longer finds joy from the torture he has, up until this point, enjoyed bestowing on his rival, Edgar's, offspring. Nelly notes that 'perhaps you have never remarked that their eyes are precisely similar, and they are those of Catherine Earnshaw.'

However, according to Nelly, 'The present Catherine has no other likeness to her, except a breadth of forehead, and a certain arch of the nostril that makes her appear rather haughty, whether she will or not.' Physically, both women are beautiful and have intriguing, dark eyes. They also share facial expressions, but their coloring is so different that no one would confuse the two.


Catherine first meets the Lintons when her curiosity gets the better of her, urging her to cross the four miles between the homes for a better look. Heathcliff explains, 'Cathy and I escaped from the wash-house to have a ramble at liberty, and getting a glimpse of the Grange lights, we thought we would just go and see whether the Lintons passed their Sunday evenings.' While looking from the outside, Catherine is intrigued by the luxurious surroundings of the Grange and the high social standing of the Lintons. She believes it is something she wants for herself, but after less than a year of marriage, Catherine begins to find Thruschcross Grange stifling. In death, she returns to the Heights, which is what she considers her home.

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