Bronte, is a universe of opposing forces-storm and calm. Wuthering Heights, the land of storm, is a sturdy house that is set up high on the windy moors, belonging to the Earnshaw family. The house is highly charged with emotion of hatred, cruelty, violence, and savage love. In comparison, Thrushcross Grange, the land of calm, is settled in the valley and is the residence of the genteel Lintons. The same differences exists between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, as they do in Heathcliff and Edgar.
As Catherine points out, the contrast between the two “resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, oal country, for a beautiful fertile valley. ” (Bronte 72) The Lintons, and the social and material advantages they stand for become Heathcliff’s rivals for Catherine’s love, which leads directly to the central conflict of the novel. Heathcliff despises them at first sight for their weakness, but Catherine, being an extremely proud girl, is tempted.
A lovers’ triangle begins to take definite shape when the aristocratic Edgar Linton falls in love with Catherine, upsetting the balance between the relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff. Edgar’s love for Catherine is sincere, but the element of great passion which is strongly characterized does not compare to Heathcliff’s love. The difference between Catherine’s feeling for Heathcliff and the one she feels for Linton is that Heathcliff is a part of her nature, while Edgar is only a part of her superficial love.
For he (Heathcliff), like her, is a child of storm; and this makes a bond between them, which interweaves itself with the very nature of their existence. (Cecil 26) Emily Bronte makes a point in the novel to mention the fact that Catherine’s affection for Heathcliff remains unchanged in spite of the Lintons’ influence over her. As Catherine confesses to Nelly that Heathcliff and her share the same soul, and also declares “I am Heathcliff. ” (Bronte 84) Her pride, yearning for the world of the Lintons, has gotten the better of her natural inclination, and she knows she has made the wrong decision by marrying Edgar.
Catherine, naturally a child of storm, is unable to develop at Thrushcross Grange, while she is married to Edgar. Her mind becomes disturbed, which is the first sign of her degeneration. The pragmatic reality at the Grange cannot fill the void that she has made for herself in leaving her furious childhood environment. As Heathcliff reappears in the story, in chapter ten, Catherine once again begins to compare him with Edgar, causing conflict between storm and calm. “But since he (Heathcliff) is an extraneous element, he is a source of discord, inevitably disrupting the working of the natural order. Cecil 30)
Through Catherine’s delirium, she has at last faced the reality of her hopeless situation. She is trapped, married to a man she cannot respect and cut off forever from the man she deeply loves. In addition, she is stifled by the civilized atmosphere of Thrushcross Grange and longing for freedom of her natural life with Heathcliff. In chapter twelve, she throws open the window to attempt to get a “chance of life. ” (Bronte 125) Catherine could not find common ground between the elemental emotions with Heathcliff and Edgar, and it begins to destroy her.
She is departed from her beloved Heathcliff, unable to identify with him, she becomes ill at the Grange. Before her death, in chapter fifteen, Catherine says, “I’m tired of being enclosed here. I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there. ” (Bronte 157) Unlike Heathcliff, Edgar is unable to control the fury in Catherine’s mind, therefore there is no chance for convalesce. “He might as well plant an oak in a flower-pot, and expect it to thrive, as imagine he can restore her to vigour in the soil of his shallow cares! ” (Bronte 151)
Catherine’s fatal illness was a direct result of her realization that she has warped the natural order of things, admitting her guilt before she died. Although, even in death she tries to regain a balance between both worlds, storm and calm, with her interment site: “It was dug on a green slope, in a corner of the kirdyard, where the wall was so low that the heath and bilberry plants have climbed over from the moor;… ” (Bronte 165) Catherine has chosen a place where she may be as close to the wild moors of her youth while never leaving the confines of her new world.