Catherine Linton

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For her mother, married name Catherine Linton, see Catherine Earnshaw.
Catherine (Cathy) Linton
Information
Nickname(s) Cathy
Family Edgar Linton (father)
Cathy Earnshaw (mother)
Spouse(s) Linton Heathcliff
Hareton Earnshaw

Catherine Linton (also known as "Young Catherine" or Cathy Linton and later as Catherine Heathcliff then as Catherine Earnshaw) is a character in Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights. She is the daughter of Edgar Linton and Cathy Earnshaw, and, despite Heathcliff's attempts at exacting revenge on her for the indiscretions of her family, she eventually marries her true love, Hareton Earnshaw, re-establishing long-lost equilibrium in the story.

Story[edit]

About eleven o'clock that night was born the Catherine you saw at Wuthering Heights: a puny, seven-months' child; and two hours after the mother died, having never recovered sufficient consciousness to miss Heathcliff, or know Edgar.

— Nelly Dean to Mr Lockwood in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights

Cathy is the only child of Catherine and Edgar. Her mother dies a few hours after giving premature birth to her, about half-way through the novel. Her father, Edgar, calls her "Cathy" for the most part, while Heathcliff refers to her as "Catherine", because he called her mother "Cathy" as an expression of his immense affection and love for her.

Cathy is a very curious and mischievous girl, and, at sixteen years of age, she seeks out Wuthering Heights, the house to which she is not allowed to travel because Heathcliff, Edgar's enemy, resides there. On arrival she meets Hareton Earnshaw, the nephew of her mother. Nelly, who travels with her, insists that he is indeed her cousin, but Cathy, genuinely amazed at his coarse, uneducated language, his dirty clothes and his savage manner, insists that there is no way that it could be so.

On her second visit, which Nelly desperately tries to prevent, Heathcliff meets her for the first time, greeting her with a warm and kindly matter, although we know that he blames her for the death of his soul mate, her mother. He tells Nelly that he means no harm; he only wants Cathy and his own son, Linton, to fall in love and be married. As a result of his encouragement, Cathy and Linton grow close. When Nelly forbids Cathy from visiting Wuthering Heights and the bitter tyrant Heathcliff, they take to writing love letters to one another.

It soon becomes apparent that Heathcliff's plans for their marriage form part of his endeavour for revenge on Edgar and his daughter: Catherine will marry Linton, be it against her will or not. Nelly finds the childish love letters and burns them. Linton's letters, it is implied, are so beautiful that they were most likely written by Heathcliff as a means of drawing Cathy to the Heights.

...yet with touches, here and there, which, I thought, were borrowed from a more experienced source.

— Nelly Dean in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, p213

The relationship sinks after Nelly's discovery, but it later emerges, to Nelly's considerable horror, that Cathy has been making more visits to Wuthering Heights in their stead.

Edgar presently falls ill with distress, and Heathcliff keeps Cathy and Nelly at the Heights until Catherine finally agrees to marry Linton. Desperate to see her father once more before he dies, she consents, and her fate at Wuthering Heights is sealed. Edgar dies, kissing his daughter on the cheek, knowing that Thrushcross Grange, the Linton household, is now in the hands of his enemy.

Linton, who does not at all resemble his father, but is in almost every way like his mother, falls ill as well and dies shortly after his marriage. Heathcliff forces him in his dying moments to bequeath everything to him, nothing to Catherine. As a result, it seems that Catherine, now cold and distant because of her understandable misery, is yet another character destined for an unhappy ending.

Eventually, however, she and Hareton form an unlikely romance: after long having shrugged off his attempts at winning her affection, she begins to aid him in his education. Heathcliff sees the love between the two blossom and, probably because he has a grudging soft spot for Hareton, no longer takes pleasure in degrading them. Heathcliff begins to see Hareton as an adopted son, sharing a similar life of the poor stable boy robbed of his inheritance and love. He no longer stands between Hareton and Catherine, seeing it as now a pointless endeavour and essentially as revenge against himself, and the two are finally allowed to openly love each other.

Heathcliff dies and is buried next to the elder Cathy. Catherine and Hareton make plans to marry on New Year's Day, and to reside at Thrushcross Grange.

Description[edit]

Although she is Cathy Earnshaw's daughter, she resembles her father more in looks, with golden ringlets and fair skin. The only qualities that she inherits from her mother are the beautiful "Earnshaw eyes" (which also belong to her future husband, Hareton Earnshaw) and her wayward, mischievous spirit. At first, Catherine is gentle and kind, but a bit snobbish because of her guarded and wealthy upbringing at the Grange; however, when reduced to a life of misery at the Heights, she grows cold, distant and dismissive of everyone around her. It is her romance with Hareton that re-establishes her bubbly personality.