By: Raj kumar Ghimire
Catherine as a central character of Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights (1847) moves with split personality where she draws two males and houses together. She is in between with her heart and mind that determines her relations with two males; Heathcliff and Edgar. She becomes almost mad and shows split personality at Thrushcross Grange after Heathcliff’s returning. Her character brings two identities as being Earnshaw and Linton both at once. She has adopted both qualities; wilderness and civilization because she is brought up in two different places and taught by two cultures. She shows her different natures in terms of love and marriage because of her psychology and unconscious state of mind. Therefore, Catherine has split personality that represents two houses with two families which are totally opposite and different in nature where she is trapped between love and responsibility and shows her both gentle and wild behaviors with her actions at once.
Oxford English dictionary defines the word ‘split’ as “divide into branches or break forcibly” (738). It means the thing which is divided or parted into different branches is known as split. Then ‘split personality’ is a condition of altering or breaking the interests, behaviors, activities, speeches and so on into pieces which show different identities at a single time. Here, Wuthering Height stands for nature with wilderness and Thrushcross Grange as culture with civilization where Catherine has adopted both. She is torn between love (Heathcliff) and mind (Edgar) which is the real existence of her split personality.
There are two sides of Catherine who belongs to two men: one Heathcliff and another Edgar where she has got both identities as Catherine Heathcliff and Catherine Linton. These two characteristics shown by her can be taken as the parts of her life. She feels difficulty to decide whether she belongs to Heathcliff or Edgar. In her conversation with Nelly, she says as: “Oh, I will die” (94), and at the same time she exclaims: “No I’ll not die he’d be glad-he does not love me at all-he would never miss me” (94). It shows her madness or instability of mind where she is in dilemma whether to die or not and she has not faith upon both males; husband and lover. Thus, it clearly shows her split nature in the novel.
Louis Tyson in her book Critical Theory Today talks about Freud’s psychoanalysis theory regarding behavior of a person as: “you can’t always get what you consciously want, but you get what you unconsciously need” (12). It means as a human being we cannot get the things as we want but as a result we get those things unconsciously to fulfill our need. There is clash between conscious want and unconscious need. In this novel, Catherine was too intimate with Heathcliff at her childhood so she consciously want him at her adulthood but she unconsciously need husband so she gets Edgar. Now, here we can raise a question, who is she actually? To whom she belongs then? She is trapped between the two males and two families. She tries to lead two lives at once is the split nature of Catherine.
The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychological analyst Felix Guttari in their book Anti Oedipus’ first volume ‘Capitalism and schizophrenia’ discuss about capital society and mentality of a person where people’s dual nature lies. The line is as; “an extreme state co-existence with the capitalist system itself and capitalism keeps enforing neurosis as a way of maintaining normality” (23). It means there is the connection between psychology of a person and society. Our psychology is guided by our family which works as desiring machine and society as capital practices. In the novel Catherine’s desire to get Heathcliff and her social need to be with Edgar both comes at once which brings her dual nature of her character.
On the other hand, according to Deleuze and Guttari the term ‘Schizophrenia’ means “a mental disorder which is not a disease but a situation or condition of a person where peoples show their disorderness or dual nature at once” (23). So the term ‘schizophrenia’ breaks up the person’s identity where both desire of people and society display this tendency. Moreover they say: “schizophrenia is the process of the production of desire and desiring machines” (24). As Nelly says; “Catherine has adopted a double character without intending to deceive anyone” (52). It is really difficult to find out whether Catherine’s behavior belongs to the Height or to the Grange. Though, her intension was not like that to deceive anyone but she happens to do so. The ‘unconscious’ stands as the desire of Catherine in the novel where lies mediation between two aspects; realms of desire and the society. Catherine moves with two identities as beloved of Heathcliff and wife of Edgar is the clear view of her dual nature.
When Heathcliff returns back being a rich man after three years she again shows her interest towards him. If she loves Edgar then, why she turns toward Heathcliff? She becomes so happy by seeing Heathcliff and says; “Oh, Edgar darling! Heathcliff come back- he is!” (74). It clearly shows her interest and love upon Heathcliff but she is not aware about her nature. She wants to make them as friend and says to Edgar as; “yet for my sake you must be friends now” (74). Now she thinks that she needs both of them as love and husband and says for my sake you two should become friend. When she becomes alone with Heathcliff she talks a lot with him but when Edgar comes near to them she leaves Heathcliff and talks with him. Her interest is divided into two parts, isn’t it a duality of her character?
Next point is that, because of her unconscious mind and psychological instability she acts both violently and gently at once. Her psychology is guided by her upbringing and recent environment. According to Freud our mind consists of three impulses: “id, ego, super ego” (Tyson 25). It means id is our desire and super ego is moral or civilized force to control that desire whereas ego is in between them which balances id and super ego. In this novel Catherine can be taken as ego that she is in between of Heathcliff as unconscious desire or id and Edgar as the civilized person or super ego. She tries to become happy after her marriage but cannot. As Edgar says to Nelly like: “. . . and, Catherine try to be glad without being absurd” (74). It shows that Catherine is not happy with Edgar and wants to be with Heathcliff demonstrates her duality.
The dream of Catherine symbolizes her willing to get Heathcliff who is source of happiness for her. In the dream she remembers her past and regrets being separated with him at Thrushcross Grange. Tyson talks about dream as; “Freud says repressed or unfulfilled desires come in our dream” (25). Catherine sees Heathcliff in her dream because of her unfulfilled desire. After Heathcliff’s returning she says “I shall think it a dream tomorrow” and Heathcliff replies “A little more than you have thought of me” (76). It shows they both cannot forget them in their separation. But at the same time she says “I have such faith in Linton’s love!” (77). Because of this mad condition she falls in a great depression and becomes ill or had a fever. She says to Nelly “I am dying” (127), it shows she cannot lead her both life at once and she feels difficulty in her life.
Catherine feels uneasy and cannot sleep because of her attachment with Heathcliff. At the mid night she happens to remember him and says to Nelly that; “I cannot rest Ellen” (77). It clearly shows her instability of mind and desire to be with Heathcliff who is not happy with Edgar. And she says “I require to be let alone” (93). She cannot bear the situation and lead both lives at once where she cannot sleep properly and wants to be alone. She even says that “Edgar, you – you leave me” (93). She requests her husband to leave her alone where she can feel free and fresh. This kind of activities shows her madness where she divides her interest towards two boy presents her dual nature.
Furthermore, she is the real representative character of Victorian society because she chooses Edgar just for the sake of her class status only. Lois Tyson presents Marx’s idea about class structure as; “haves and have nots or bourgeoisie and proletariat” (54). It means every society is based on class structure where haves all the time dominate and uses have nots. Because of Heathcliff’s status Catherine also decides to leave him. Edgar calls him as “what a gipsy- the plough boy” (74). Because Heathcliff does not have any class so Edgar calls him by that word shows class consciousness of upper class people. Wuthering height and Thrushcross Grange is the real representation of Victorian era and Catherine’s decision to marry with Edgar also shows class consciousness. Therefore, class consciousness divides her identity into two parts; one love and another life which bring dual nature of Catherine.
Likewise, in the course of her conversation with Nelly she says “I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband” (61). It clearly shows her belief and thinking about money and material things. She wants to be the great woman in the society and become successful in the material matter which is the most powerful reason for choosing Edgar as a husband. That is not only the choice of love but the choice of status or level too. Since Heathcliff runs away from her she had no other choices left, what to do next? So she accepts Edgar’s proposal. The narrator, Nelly opines: “you love Mr. Edgar because he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, rich and loves you” (61). In this line the word love comes after rich that shows their intention upon property rather than love.
On the other hand Catherine cannot bear the situation created by her. Catherine says, “You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff!” (124). It shows she is not in a good condition where she feels as if her heart has broken and cannot lead her life properly. Though she loves both of them but they cannot understand her. Now she regrets about her decision and says; “Nelly, you have helped to unsettle me!” (98). Because of her decision and activities she is torn and trapped between that worst condition. She moves with love and responsibility at once but cannot settle or fix her life shows her split personality.
Catherine has got double nature up to the end of her life when she says: “oh, don’t go. It is last time! Edgar will not hurt us. Heathcliff I shall die! I shall die!” (127). It presents she still loves him and cannot forget but wants to be reunited. She wants Heathcliff and but she can’t leave Edgar too. So, she is not happy and satisfied with Edgar. They both become the part of her life. After their death she in between Heathcliff and Edgar, both of them are buried next to her, one on either side, once again placing her in the middle of them. She remained middle of the two males; they both are her parts too. She wants both in her life as well as after death too. So, the graveyard is also made like that which also brings her dual nature.
In conclusion, Catherine is confused about her real identity whether she is civilized lady or wilder one where she acts with both violent and gentle nature. She is in between the two guys, may be because of lack of proper guidance and unconscious mind. At the graveyard also she is in between of the two males; one is lover and another is husband. She is the representative character of both Wuthering Height and Thrushcross Grange. She chooses Edgar because of his wealth and looking which are Victorian women’s thoughts, beliefs and interests. She moves with love and money both at once brings her duality. So, we cannot say her exact identity to which house and male she belongs. The great factor to determine her behavior is her psychology that leads her as a mad and shows dual nature. She cannot get what she consciously wants but she gets what she unconsciously need. She cannot develop her real identity and proper relation and cannot lead both of them properly. Until the death of two males she remains disturbed and unsatisfied and used to come as a ghost to haunt. Therefore, all her activities, behaviors, thoughts and beliefs shows her dual nature in this novel Wuthering Heights after becoming like a mad.
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 4th ed. Ed. Richard J. Dunn. New York: Norton, 2003.
Deleuze, Gills, and Felix Guttari. Anti Oedipus. Vol.1 Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and
Helen R. Lane. London: 2004.
Elliot, Julia, ed. Oxford Compact English Dictionary. 19th ed. New York: Oxford University
Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group,