.. ese social values of regression to Catherine Earnshaw if the novelist was a recluse and separated from social life in general? The answer is simple, we cannot. On the other hand, we may transpose the question toward the next generation since they will have to cope with the effects of the ill events that have taken place between herself, Heathcliff, and Linton. Our answer lies with Catherine Linton – Cathy- her daughter. Young Cathy is the inheritor of all the evils that have destroyed and enraged the first generation of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.
Cathy emerges from Catherine’s womb with a pre-destined knowledge encrusted into her family blood. ” An unwelcomed infant it was, poor thing! It might have wailed out of life, and nobody cared a morsel, during those first hours of existence.” (p.164). Thus, her development in the social world of Thrushcross Grange lies heavily with the past events that have damned her mother. Her individual development and quest for personal knowledge must revolve tightly around the introduction of external forces. She is not in full control of her future.
Right at her first step, Edgar is overly protective of her daughter, giving her a full education while enclosing her in the confines of Thrushcross Grange: ” He took her education entirely on himself, and made it an amusement: forunately, curiosity and a quick intellect urged her into an apt scholar; she learnt rapidly and eagerly, and did honour to his teaching..Wuthering Heights and Mr. Heathcliff did not exist for her; she was a perfect recluse; and, apparently, perfectly contented.” (p.189) His intentions are good and pure since he does not want his daughter to be involved in the prior wrongs. Still, his own actions are the first step in Cathy’s normal search for knowledge of the other and the outer world. Like in Moliere’s l’Ecole des Femmes, the young heroine is pushed into the arms of her lover Arnolphe by her husband’s coveting of her education. It is impossible in both texts to ensure the education of an innocent mind, and assuring that this mind stays attached to her small, limited social world. The coveting of innocent minds only leads to their sure search toward knowledge of the other.
” Ellen, how long will it be before I can walk to the top of those hills?”(p.189). She cannot wait long before she does reach the hills, and thus begins her deconstruction in knowledge. Simply, she must regress in progression to encompass the reality on the other side of the wall. For example, her initial disgust on learning that Hareton is her cousin relates her prior notions in the “pride of blood”. Only her acceptance of the new situation will restart her progression in knowledge, but now on a wider and larger social scale.
Heathcliff becomes not only a willing participant in the deconstruction of Cathy’s instruction in the ways of the world, but also the cause of his own downfall. Only in Cathy’s deconstruction of knowledge may she assimilate and comprehend the reality of the outer world. For example, her forced marriage to Linton should in her eyes satisfy the social contract of a decent marriage, equal in lineage. At no point will this seemingly conventional bond satisfy her morality and her social development. Linton not only alienates her from her basic wealth of knowledge through the intervention of Heathcliff, but makes it possible to find a common bond with Hareton in the end.
” They lifted their eyes together, to encounter Mr. Heathcliff – perhaps you have never remarked that their eyes are precisely similar, and they are those of Catherine Earnshaw” (p.322). Both unwillingly obey their calling in union through the strength in their eyes. Heathcliff with thoughts of destruction has brought to Cathy the primitive know ledge to reconstruct her life and the lives of others around a sound and emotionally peaceful outcome. On an opposite psychological pole from her mother, Cathy is never whole when the events in her development take place. This is her salvation since it gives a certain leeway to add or reconstruct her knowledge into a piercing weapon.
By regressing to a more common social standing at Wuthering Heights, she is able to understand Hareton’s situation and thus not only reconstruct herself into a fuller picture of society, but extend her new awakening onto Hareton and his salvation toward a better situation. Unlike her mother’s destructive process, she is able to rebuild a fuller reality by accepting social structures and knowledge in a broader picture. In the end, not only has she advanced herself and Hareton in the world, but made Heathcliff unfulfilled in his quest for revenge. Still, only by her personal progress can Heathcliff be finally reunited onto his beloved Catherine. Finally, the question of Victorian influence is left unanswered.
How can Catherine’s progression relate to a women’s regression or development through this era. A simple answer is found with her transmitting of knowledge onto Hareton. With Heathcliff’s demise, Hareton stands alone to inherit the lands of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. Cathy must inevitably end up with Hareton for her to retain or regain her place in the social order since only men can own and inherit land by law. One could state that Emily Bronte’s novel could never involve such comparisons since she lived herself as a recluse to the outer world.
To its defense, although Emily Bronte’s physical world was quite limited her mind roamed far and wide. She could never make use of such complex law questions without prior knowledge and comprehension of the larger society she lived in. Through her educational process, Cathy has made of Hareton her equal in worth, but also her superior in power. In other words, she is twice blessed for she has found a romantic “spontaneous overflow of feeling”3 for Hareton, and a regain in social standing. Still, Cathy must accept her place in a Victorian society to keep her new found wealth.
The young couple will inevitably move to Thrushcross Grange to settle down, signifying a closure for the tempestuous emotions of Wuthering Heights, and a continuation for the more rational order of Thrushcross Grange. Many critics have through the years praised Bronte’s forceful work of emotions, and compared her fully with her Romantic predecessors. In no way is it possible to contradict this statement since the novel transcends human emotions, the natural environment, and the supernatural. On the other hand, this essay has tried to delve around the complex meld of Romantic and Victorian elements in the progress of social and individual development. Lastly, and to further the statement of knowledge, it is possible to seek more answers through Emily Bronte’s poetic soul. Wuthering Heights was not only a process of development for two generations of woman, but a personal one for the author.
The elemental forces and emotions contained in her verse might have been too much for such a limited and short vessel. Only in the novel, could she try and develop her art form to fully encompass the fierce beauty of emotions and human passion. Still, the novel’s great quality is just that the author make her emotions leave the boundaries of her lines to encompass everything they come in contact with. Thus, knowledge and development can never be grasped as a finished object and “what thou art may never be destroyed”4.