Tag Archives: Catherine Earnshaw

Happy Birthday Anne Bronte!

During Anne Bronte‘s time, the expectations of woman’s life was simple: marry upon reaching adulthood, bring children (boys preferably) into the world, support her husband and live a quiet, appropriately feminine life. But Anne Bronte was not just any woman and she did not come just any family.

With her elder sisters Charlotte and Emily, Anne has become one of a handful of 19th century women writers whose influence has lasted long after her brief time on Earth. Her two novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, speak to a woman’s condition and what she must endure because she is a woman.

Agnes Grey is about a young woman who works as a governess for wealthy families. Her charges are spoiled and wild, their parents do nothing to curb their bad behavior. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is about spousal abuse, alcoholism and the choices that some women must make to remove themselves and their children from that environment.

The thing that I love about her books is that they are grounded in the real world, as a pose to the fantasy-ish world of her sister’s novels. An example of this is the romanticizing of Heathcliff in Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Upon the first read, Heathcliff is the romantic hero pining for Catherine Earnshaw. But Heathcliff reveals himself to be a brute and have serious anger issues.

In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne reveals the harsh truth of what it is to live with an abusive spouse. In her era, divorce was hard to come by and marriage was for life. Women were told to look the other way when their husbands acted less than honorably.

If there is one takeaway I have from both books, it is that the issues that she wrote about are still front and center today. Which is why Anne Bronte and her books are still being read today.

Wherever she is, I wish her a very happy birthday.

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Thoughts On Wuthering Heights & Emily Bronte On The Anniversary Of Her Birth

In her lifetime, Emily Bronte saw her first and only novel, Wuthering Heights published.

From the outside looking in (and from the view of Victorian culture), the second to last Miss Bronte was not exactly noteworthy. She was the daughter of a curate in a small Yorkshire town who preferred her animals, her poetry and the small society of her family to the outside world. Uninterested in fashion, marriage, gossip or any of the standard interests of the day for young ladies, she was wholly herself and didn’t give a fig what someone else thought about her.

Today is her 200th birthday.

Wuthering Heights is the tale of tortured love, classicism and revenge. Her protagonists are Healthcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Catherine is the daughter of a respectable house, Heathcliff is her adopted brother whose origins are unknown. As they grow up, their relationship changes from childhood playmates to young people in love. But then the reality of their world comes crashing down. Catherine marries another man. Healthcliff gives into his long simmering rage. Soon their dysfunctional relationship affects everyone around them, no one remains untouched.

At the time of its publishing, critics didn’t know what to make of this novel. 200 years later, we recognize Emily for the literary genius that she is. Other writers might have romanticized the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. But in Emily hand’s, her lead characters are deeply flawed. Heathcliff has a temper and is more than willing to inflict violence on another person if he feels that the situation calls for it. Catherine is spoiled and selfish, too comfortable in her status to choose the man she loves over the comfort of a proper home and a wealthy husband.

In the end, we keep coming back to Wuthering Heights because of those flaws. Emily was adept at creating characters that revealed the best and worst of humanity. She died at the young age of 30, today we can only speculate what she could have done as a writer had she lived longer.

Wherever you are Emily, Happy Birthday.

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Wuthering Heights Character Review: Catherine Linton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Whether or not they are aware of it, parents will sometimes pass on their emotional scars to their children. The question is, if and when the child becomes aware that their parents emotional scar has become their scar, do they find a way to heal or let the scar remain open?

Catherine Linton is the living embodiment of emotional scars that are passed from one generation to the next. Her mother, also Catherine Linton (née Earnshaw), died soon after the birth of her daughter, torn between her husband and her soulmate/adopted brother, Heathcliff.  Raised by her indulgent father and Nelly, her late mother’s housekeeper, Catherine is protected from the world.

Then Heathcliff enters Catherine’s life and the emotional scars from the previous generation are brought into the light. Still resenting the loss of his true love to Edgar Linton, Heathcliff (who is also Catherine’s uncle), kidnaps the girl, knowing full well that she is her father’s heir. Catherine is forced to marry her cousin, Linton and watch Heathcliff take Thruthcross Grange as his own after the death of her father.

Soon Catherine becomes a widow herself. Her only consolation is Nelly, who is once more the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights and her other cousin, Hareton Earnshaw. Abused and imprisoned by Heathcliff, Catherine is no shrinking violet. She is her mother’s child and uses every ounce of her energy to hold onto her dignity and self respect. In the end, it is Catherine and Hareton who will walk away from the tragedy that is Wuthering Heights, finally healing the scars of the previous generation.

 

To sum it up: Scars can heal, if we let them. Or we can let them fester. Catherine chooses to let the scars heal. In doing so, the ghosts of the past are finally able to rest and Catherine and Hareton are able to walk off into the sunset together. As writers, we have a choice on how to end our stories. More important than the choice of ending, it has to feel right for the narrative and the characters. In choosing her own version of a happy ending for her novel, Emily Bronte is able to successfully end her narrative with a closing feels natural. If the ending of war is peace, than the ending of Wuthering Heights is as it ought to be.

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Character Review: Isabella Linton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Not everyone can have their happy ending. Some of us, no matter how much we try, will never be able to walk into the proverbial sunset. In Wuthering Heights, Isabella Healthcliff (nee Linton) is Catherine Linton’s (nee Earnshaw) sister-in-law. When Heathcliff comes back into Catherine’s life a couple of years after she has married Edgar, Isabella develops a crush on Heathcliff. Why shouldn’t she? He is handsome, wealthy and in every sense of the word, eligible. Isabella is single, of age to marry and ready to marry.

The problem is that neither Catherine or Heathcliff have gotten over each other. Isabella becomes a pawn in their relationship. Running away with Heathcliff, they elope and Isabella is cut off from her brother. She will soon learn about the darker side of her husband. When she can no longer live with Heathcliff, she leaves hims and takes their young son, Linton to London.  She dies young,  hoping to leave her son in her brother’s care. But her husband wants his son back.

To sum it up: While we all wish for a happy ending, both on page with our characters and in our lives as human beings, we  may not get that happy ending. Isabella is unfortunately a character whose happy ending is not what she envisioned. But she does one thing that makes her ending stand out: instead of staying with her abusive husband, she leaves him and takes their son with him.

In 19th century Victorian England, this was a brave choice that is a small, but pivotal change in the way happy endings are portrayed. So in a way, Isabella got her happy ending, but it was on her own terms. In that sense, Bronte flipped the standard happy ending narrative on its ear, creating a new happy ending. If a writer is looking to clear up the loose ends of their story with a happy ending, why not change that ending? Flip that happy ending on it’s ear, make the story even more memorable and leave the reader wanting more.

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Wuthering Heights Character Review: Edgar Linton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

One of the more common narratives in the romance genre is the love triangle and the question of whom the hero or heroine will choose as their partner.  In Wuthering Heights, the love triangle consists of Catherine Earnshaw at the top of the triangle with Heathcliff and Edgar Linton on the bottom of the triangle.

Edgar Linton is everything Heathcliff is not. He is the son and heir of a respectable landowning family who acts as a gentleman of his class and time is expected to act. His lineage is defined and traceable. His status, income and property mark him as a catch. In modern terms, he is the boy next door that many parents would be thrilled to see their child dating.

Even for all of that, he is not Heathcliff. Even after Catherine has accepted Edgar’s marriage proposal, she admits that the man she loves is not Edgar. While the reader knows that Catherine is marrying Edgar for what could appear to be less than honorable reasons, Edgar will only discover this fact later in the novel.

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Healthcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

To sum it up: For all of his good qualities, Edgar Linton is the loser in the love triangle that is part of the Wuthering Heights narrative. He is the nice guy who may have been in love with the heroine, but she in turn was in love with the bad boy and ultimately chose the bad boy over the nice guy. As a writer, Emily Bronte could have used this very predictable narrative and chose the safe route. Instead she forged her own narrative path and told the story of the conflict between light and dark and how that affects the choices that characters make.

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Wuthering Heights Character Review: Hindley Earnshaw

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every protagonist needs an antagonist. Whether that antagonist is an internal or external antagonist, he or she is crucial to the development of the protagonist.  In Wuthering Heights, that antagonist is Hindley Earnshaw. Hindley is Catherine’s older brother, his jealousy and anger over Heathcliff creates a lifetime of rage and abuse on his adopted brother. After Mr. Earnshaw dies and Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights, he takes pleasure in reminding Heathcliff of his low status. Hindley also absolves himself of any parental responsibility if his only son, Hareton, after the death of his wife, leaving his child in the path of the vengeful Heathcliff.

To sum it up: Not every character has to be likable or have redeeming qualities. Some characters are just  nasty, rude, don’t give a sh*t, etc. But that’s fine. In creating an irredeemable character like Hindley, Bronte was able perfectly contrast her hero, Heathcliff. While Heathcliff has some goodness in him,  Hindley has none. He is an arrogant angry man who fully takes advantage of his status in society, loses everything in the process and in the end pays for his wicked ways. When it comes to villains, that is how we like it.

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Wuthering Heights Character Review: Heathcliff

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is something magical about a romantic leading man. Even in human form, with his imperfections, there is something ideal and dreamy about this kind of character. On the surface, Heathcliff, the male protagonist of Wuthering Heights seems like the romantic leading who sweeps not just the female protagonist off her feet, but the readers as well. The important word in that sentence is seems.

Heathcliff’s origins are unknown. He is an orphan found on the streets by Mr. Earnshaw and taken back to Wuthering Heights. Raised within the family, Heathcliff’s soulmate is Catherine, Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter. His nemesis is Catherine’s older brother, Hindley.  After Mr. Earnshaw dies and Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is cast out of his comfortable life and forced into servitude.  His bitterness and anger are kept at bay because Catherine is around.

Heathcliff’s bitterness and anger starts to grow exponentially when Catherine gets engaged to Edgar Linton, the son of a wealthy and respectable family. Vowing to get revenge, but still deeply in love with Catherine, Heathcliff comes back a few years later with a tidy fortune and ready to get back at those who he believed wronged him. But along the way of getting his revenge, Heathcliff leaves a few victims in his wake: his wife, Isabella Heathcliff (nee Linton), and the next generation of Lintons, Earnshaws and Heathcliffs. But in the end, it is his pure and abiding love for Catherine that prevents the darkness from completely swallowing him.

To sum it up: the idea of Prince Charming is nice, but Prince Charming is boring. It’s been done to death. Readers remember Heathcliff because while he is a dark character whose actions and morals are questionable (especially in the second half of the book), he loves Catherine. He loves her so much that after she dies, he begs her spirit to stay with him. He keeps going back to her after she has married, knowing full well that she is married and not caring a fig for her marriage. Sometimes the key to a writer’s success is to take a standard character, add in a few out of left field characteristics, flip the character on its head and see what happens. It is the joy of writing and the joy of reading to discover a character who has been seen before, but is also totally new and different that he or she is unforgettable.

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Wuthering Heights Character Review: Catherine Earnshaw

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The best love stories always have an obstacle to the potential happiness of the couple. The best stories sometimes have a character who is standing in the way of their own happiness. This, in a nutshell is Catherine Earnshaw, the heroine of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

Catherine is the daughter of the local gentry. We first meet Catherine when her father brings home Heathcliff, her adopted brother/soulmate. Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together, joined at the hip until they reach early adulthood. Then reality sets in. Mr. Earnshaw dies and Catherine’s older brother, Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights. Hindley was never fond of Heathcliff when they were boys. Without anyone to stand in his way, Hindley openly and maliciously abuses Heathcliff.

While this is happening, the audience and Catherine are introduced to the brother and sister duo of Edgar and Isabella Linton. While it is obvious that there is a strong connection between Catherine and Heathcliff, there is also the pressure of the world of Victorian era England. It would be a disgrace for Catherine to marry Heathcliff, despite their deep love. Heathcliff has no money, no social standing and his origins are unknown. In short, it would cause quite the scandal if the lovers were to marry.

“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

After Catherine marries Edgar and Heathcliff disappears, she appears for a time, to have put aside the wild child sensibility and become a proper lady. But when Heathcliff returns as a wealthy man and starts to not court Isabella, Catherine becomes jealous. Pitting her husband and her soulmate against one another, she becomes ill and dies just moments after her daughter in born.

To sum it up: There are always obstacles, whether on the page or in life. We have two choices, we can find a way to overcome the obstacles or we can take the easy way out.  Catherine unfortunately, takes the easy way out and pays for her choices. As writers, we don’t always have to lead our characters down the right path. Sometimes, we lead our characters go down the wrong path and let them pay for their choices.

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How To Be A Heroine Book Review

I have a confession to make. I am a lifelong bookworm who extracts great pleasure from opening a favorite book and delving into the comfortable world of a story that I know all too well.

Samantha Ellis is a fellow bookworm. Her newest book is entitled How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading too Much.

Ms. Ellis is the daughter of an Iraqi-Jewish family who for the last couple of generations has lived in England. While writing about her life and the experiences of the older members of her family, she intertwines essays about some of the most well known and loved female literary characters. From Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, to the Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Cathy Earnshaw, to Scarlett O’Hara and many others, Ellis tells her own life story while reminding us why we keep going back to these characters and their stories.

I loved this book. What hooked me immediately and kept me hooked was the integration of Ms. Ellis’s life story and the classic literary female characters. Our favorite literary character often feel like a friend or a family member, we know them as much as we know ourselves.

I highly recommend this book, it is so far, the best new book of 2015 for me.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Feminism, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights

To My Love

*-These characters are not mine. The genius is solely Miss Bronte’s.

 To My Love

The letter had been discovered by Nelly. The paper was yellowed and folded many times over. The ink was faded, but she knew the writer just the same.

“To My Love

 Today I am to be married. As much as I love Edgar, it is you my heart yearns for.

 Your whereabouts are unknown to me; my heart is broken because of your absence.

 I can still feel your lips on mine, the intoxicating scent of the stables on your skin. 

 I would love nothing more than to hold you in my arms and kiss you soundly, to run and play as we did as children, wild and free.

 But we are not children anymore and the time for play has passed.

 By the time the moon rises, I shall be Mrs. Edgar Linton. If only you had not run away that night, you would have heard how much I love you and how I planned to take you with me and protect you from Hindley.

 But you are not here. Edgar is here and loves me, so I will marry him.

 Wherever you are, my love, stay safe and come back to me. My heart is incomplete without you.

 Yours forever,

 Cathy”.

 Lost in her memories, Nelly heard squeals of laughter from the doorway.

“Hareton! I told you to stop!” Into the doorway, Cathy and Edgar’s daughter, Catherine ran in with her cousin, Hareton, just behind her, his hands reaching for her skirts.

“Why should I?” he asked, his eyes full of laughter.

“If you don’t stop, I won’t be able to”.

From the moment she was born, Catherine was her mother’s daughter, not even her father’s temperate nature and wisdom could tame her wild ways.

“Nelly, what have you got there?” Hareton asked, asked as both he and Catherine stopped, noticing the paper in her hand and the look in her eyes.

“Nothing” Nelly replied, putting the letter back in its place.

Tomorrow they would be leaving Wuthering Heights, starting fresh in a new home, far from the hatred and anger that had killed one generation and nearly destroyed the next.

Nelly would save the letter for Catherine’s children and maybe one day show it to Catherine, to show her the mother she never knew.

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