‘It is very difficult to feel anything but disgust at Cathy’s behaviour in chapters 9 and 10 of Wuthering Heights. ‘ To what extent do you agree with this statement? By MomtaaJRahman ‘It is very difficult to feel anything but disgust at Cathy’s behaviour in chapters 9 and 10 of Wuthering Heights. ‘ To what extent do you agree with this statement? (40 marks) Chapters 9 and 10 see Catherine Earnshaw confess her love for Heathcliff but ultimately agree to marry Edgar Linton for the betterment of her social status. Heathcliff is also transformed after three years, and it is obvious that both he and
Catherine are still very much in love. Whether Catherine’s behaviour in these chapters can be viewed as anything but disgusting is highly subjective, as ‘disgust’ is perhaps too harsh. In my opinion the better fitted word would be disappointed, however Catherine’s demanding behaviour towards Nelly is that of disrespectful and this in turn can be interpreted as a disgusting behaviour. In chapter 9 Catherine tells Nelly that she has “accepted” Edgar Linton as her future husband. Nelly is quite interrogative at the revelation and questions Catherine on her choice, only to get back dismissive and pompous answers.
Catherine’s behaviour here is quite appalling, she uses imperatives: “be quick, and tell me I am wrong”, and has an overly assertive tone: “you’re silly, Nelly”. It is possible to feel disgust at her demanding nature, especially because there is now a somewhat narcissistic streak in Catherine, and her tone in speaking to Nelly seems unacceptable. The use of the word “shall” when she says “l shall oblige you to listen” tells us that she is a spoilt girl who is used to getting what she wants. Her orderly and conceited manner of speech is also quite off putting.
It can be argued that perhaps Nelly is trying to get Catherine o change her mind about marrying Edgar as she knows that Catherine and Heathcliff are exceptionally close, so Catherine’s reluctant answer to why she wants to marry Edgar may provoke or irritate readers. However, whilst it is easy to dislike Catherine’s choice of marital partner, it is also easy to forget that Nelly is being really interrogative and too personal. Her commentary on Catherine’s reasons as to why she loves Edgar include “bad”, “bad, still” and “worst of all”.
These responses are likely to fluster Catherine so perhaps she has the right to put on a defensive stance and to guard her choice of being with Edgar. Catherine’s reasons for wanting to marry Edgar can also be viewed with disgust, as she is marrying him for shallow reasons such as him being “handsome, and pleasant Edgar’s true feelings of love and she is therefore extremely insincere in her actions. In this sense we are compelled to feel sympathetic towards the smitten young Linton, but disgust at Catherine’s obnoxious reasons for loving him.
Catherine also wants to marry Edgar so that she can “aid Heathcliff to rise”. Although this may have romantic connotations the reason can be seen as unfair to Edgar, and to a modern audience it s highly inappropriate as she is betraying a true lover to fuel the future of a man who is anything but pleasant to him. On the contrary, Catherine’s behaviour may not be disgusting when consisting that she is under pressure to marry well and to have a husband that she can be “proud” of.
Victorian norms would have dictated that a woman should marry someone who is wealthy for future security and Catherine cannot be blamed for doing the same thing. Indeed, her decision to marry Edgar means that even Hindley “will be pleased”, so expectations to marry someone worthy are high – marrying Heathcliff would ertainly not please Catherine’s brother. Thinking about one’s security is far from wrong, and the fact that Edgar actually loves Catherine is a bonus. Chapter 10 sees Heathcliff return to Wuthering Heights after having gone AWOL for three years.
Isabella Linton takes an instant liking to Heathcliffs transformation but she is mocked and humiliated by Catherine for doing so. Quite surprisingly, she warns Isabella that Heathcliff is an “unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation”. Catherine’s description of Heathcliff here is exaggerated, and can be interpreted as her enwing Isabella who is able to openly like Heathcliff. This may not go down well with readers who may view Catherine as conceited for secretly wanting Heathcliff herself, and for forbidding Isabella to feel the same.
It can be argued that Catherine already made her choice of marrying Edgar so does she have the right to prevent Isabella falling for a “tall, athletic, well-formed man”? Her vindictive and sinister nature when mocking Isabella in front of Heathcliff is a somewhat disgusting act too. When Heathcliff passes the window at Thrushcross she laughs and she has a “mischievous smile on her lips” and later, upon his arrival she lurts out that Isabella has been “breaking her heart” over the contemplation of his “physical and moral beauty”.
This act of mockery shows Catherine’s cruel and cunning side, and her actions carry notes of bitterness and Jealousy which may serve to spark feelings of disgust towards her. Regardless of this, some readers may instead feel sympathetic towards Catherine’s behaviour in chapters 9 and 10, because she has had to give up the one thing that means the most to her: Heathcliff. Catherine believes that with Heathcliff “whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”.
This tells us that they are both physically and mentally very close, so departing from one another must have been a very painful experience for Catherine. A soul also translates to ‘life, vital breath’, and this insinuates that Catherine has lost a part of her innermost being when she chose Edgar. Hindley’s denigration of Heathcliff also means that if she were to marry him then her reputation would sink, and this could prompt us to share her sorrow as she To conclude, Catherine’s behaviour may be interpreted as disgusting if we look at the surface of why she’s marrying Edgar and her behaviour towards Nelly.
She can be seen to marry him for her own selfish reasons of obtaining a wealthy and comfortable future, whilst appearing to be a good friend towards Heathcliff. However it would be incorrect to make these assumptions without taking into consideration what Catherine is having to go through. There are clear constraints as to who she can marry, and with Heathcliff not being an ideal partner she is forced to accept Edgar. There is great sorrow behind this, and the fact that her sister in law is able to admire her true love so openly only acts like the addition of salt to already existing wounds.