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Heathcliff’s heritage is never revealed, Isabella questions whether he is even a man, and Doroth Van Ghent even suggests that he ‘might really be a demon.’ The failure to pinpoint his humanity is because, as Catherine’s statement makes clear, Heathcliff is the corporeal manifestation of her true self, her ‘soul’, before Thrushcross Grange’s and the Linton’s influence. He seems devoid of human qualities and susceptibilities purely because, like ‘the eternal rocks beneath,’ he is a figure of permanence. Thus, Heathcliff’s self-exile represents the departure of Catherine’s true self, allowing for more socialisation to occur in her marriage to Linton.
The conflict of Catherine’s love for Heathcliff and her new identity, which had been ‘converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton’ is shown to be one which cannot be reconciled, and this, as mentioned above, has disastrous consequences. Gilbert and Gubar point out that Wuthering Heights ‘seems at times to be about forces rather than people.’ Catherine’s attempt to try and synthesise the two forces embodied by Heathcliff and Edgar is what catalyses her demise. V.S. Pritchett claims that Bronte enters ‘the field of psychological realism… and we are not sure we have a proper guide.’ This assertion suggests that Wuthering Heights has within it a confused way of illustrating Catherine’s changing psyche. To subscribe to such a view is to ignore the gradual progression of Catherine’s attitude to the two forces and the effect it has on her mind. After returning from Thrushcross Grange, we are told that Catherine ‘had evidently an objection to her two friends meeting at all’, and she scolds Edgar for even speaking to Heathcliff. However, she later states that ‘Edgar must shake off his antipathy, and tolerate him, at least,’ which progresses to her final attitude, that the two ‘must be friends now’ and ‘then she seized Linton’s reluctant fingers and crushed them into [Heathcliff’s]’. This progression – from separation, to toleration, and then, finally, synthesis – charts Catherine’s psychological downfall. When she keeps the two separate, ‘the little party recover[s] its equanimity’, her mind manages to stabilise. However, when she wishes the two to reconcile, we are told ‘it will put her out of her head’. Thus, Edgar’s ultimatum – ‘it is impossible for you to be my friend and his at the same time; and I absolutely require to know which you choose’ – which doesn’t even request of her to return to keeping the two separate, but ridding of one completely, fragments Catherine’s psyche.
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