Catherine Chapter 12 Wuthering Heights
Within chapter 12 of Wuthering Heights Bronte portrays Catherine as a character who has lost their sense of being and is close to losing their sanity. This portrayal is produced through the characters lack of emotional and self control.
Catherine internally deviates from the reader's expectations of her character throughout the chapter, mainly by appearing uncertain in her own actions. Within chapter 8 of the novel Bronte describes Catherine’s actions as “doubtless” reflecting her strong-willed personality yet during her dialogue in chapter 12 she “muttered doubtfully”. This directly contradicts her earlier self-confidence and amplifies Catherine’s weakened state of mind as she no longer trusts herself. Furthermore, Catherine’s attempts at maintaining a confident facade through the use of the modal verb “must” within a declarative sentence at the start of her dialogue are undermined by the uncertain tone set by the verb “muttered”, causing her to be portrayed as confused as she questions instead of reassures herself. Repetition within the extract, although less effective at portraying Catherine as hesitant, enforces the effect of Catherine’s earlier uncertainty on the reader, "I thought", “I wish” and “recurring” are all repeated, indicating Catherine is losing control of her speech and focus allowing the reader to infer that the characters dialogue is uncalculated causing it to lose Catherine’s usual quick wit.
Alongside implying a loss of self control throughout her speech Catherine explicitly states how she “feared for” her “reason”, once more internally deviating from her usual confidence. Through this Bronte indicates that Catherine is aware of her mental decline yet is unable to control it. This could perhaps be why Catherine chose to lock herself away, such an attempt parallels the treatment of women who appeared unstable during the 19th Century, just as the narrator in the Yellow Wallpaper, published in 1892, was locked away by her husband John as she suffered from prenatal depression Catherine has locked herself away as her own mental state deteriorates. From this, the reader can infer that much of Catherine’s uncertain tone is due to how she had “no command of tongue, or brain”, which indicates to the reader that Catherine is being controlled by her passions which are manifesting into madness. Catherine "having a fit" indicates a physical display of emotion and earlier within the chapter Catherine has been animalistically tearing at cushions setting a underlying theme of abnormal or subhuman behaviors, which connect to ideas of madness during the classical period. The impact of Catherine’s lack of “command” is magnified by how it contradicts the reader's expectations of her character, as Catherine is often portrayed as quick witted, even as a child "her tongue was always going". This deviation is also demonstrated through the actions of Catherine within the extract as she begins to converge with Gothic female archetypes, just as female characters such as the maid in Jekyll and Hyde Catherine is "overwhelmed" and faints as she falls into "blackness"after her argument with Edgar, this juxtaposes her “very much excited” reaction to Edgar and Heathcliff’s violent fight in chapter 11, yet after Edgar requests her to "give Mr Heathcliff up", highlighting Catherine’s weakened mental state to the reader.
Catherine’s actions which cause her to be presented as lost all relate back to Catherine’s loss of Heathcliff. From a Freudian perspective Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar have an analogy between them in which Catherine represents the ego, Heathcliff, the id and Edgar, the superego. Within Freud's analysis, the ego must be male to to survive, a female ego would have to live through males, which Catherine does by identifying with Heathcliff and Edgar, however once Edgar forces her to reject Heathcliff Catherine slowly starts to lose her sense of being. This could be represented through Catherine’s lack of temporal recognition, during her description of events the alliteration of "dimly discerning" is paralleled by "dismal dose", between these two phrases Catherine “heart ached with some great grief” as she found herself back in her “childhood home", implying that she may have entered a dream like state. The heartache caused by “some great grief” demonstrates that Catherine’s passions are controlling her as they quickly grow and she is “swallowed by a paroxysm of despair” when she remembers her current situation, such a rapid rise in emotion demonstrates Catherine’s instability. During the victorian era madness became a “female malady” and was commonly associated with irregular patterns in one's mind, Ophelia from Hamlet was even used as a specific type of madness by psychiatrists at the time, indicating