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The Reader's Guide to Wuthering Heights

Catherine Earnshaw

Heathcliff's love and heroine of the story although she dies part of the way through the book. Her character, both alive and dead, haunts Heathcliff. She is free-spirited and beautiful, but can also be spiteful, arrogant and childish. Growing up alongside Heathcliff, their love is more like that of twins than lovers, and she marries Edgar because of his position and breeding.

Known as Catherine Linton after her marriage.

Note: to differentiate between this Catherine and her daughter in this site, the mother is normally written as "Catherine" and her daughter as "Cathy", except in quotations.

Merle Oberon as Catherine Earnshaw
Merle Oberon from the 1939 film
Angela Scourer as Catherine Earnshaw
Angela Scourer from the 1967 drama
Anna Calder-Marshall as Catherine Earnshaw
Calder-Marshall from the 1970 film
Kay Adshead as Catherine Earnshaw
Kay Adshead from the 1978 TV drama
Juliette Binoche as Catherine Earnshaw
Juliette Binoche from the 1992 film
Orla Brady as Catherine Earnshaw
Orla Brady
from the 1998 TV drama
Charlotte Riley as Catherine Earnshaw
Charlotte Riley from the 2009 TV drama
Kaya Scodelario as Catherine Earnshaw
Kaya Scodelario from the 2011 film

Vital Data
Parents: Mr and Mrs Earnshaw Siblings: Hindley (brother – nearly 8 years older)
Date of birth: Summer 1765 Place of birth: Wuthering Heights (assumed)
Married: Edgar Linton in March 1783 at Gimmerton Chapel. Children: Catherine (Cathy) Linton, born 1784
Date of death: 20 March 1784 (about 2 in the morning) (18 years old) Place of death: Thrushcross Grange
Physical description: very pretty; thick, long, brown hair

Link to "FAQ: When did Heathcliff embrace Catherine's body?" Link to "Musings: Searching for the perfect Catherine"


(1771, aged 6) … petting him up far above Cathy, who was too mischievous and wayward for a favourite.

(Childhood) … she put all of us past our patience fifty times and oftener in a day: from the hour she came downstairs till the hour she went to bed, we had not a minute's security that she wouldn't be in mischief. Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going—singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the same. A wild, wicked slip she was—but she had the bonniest eye, the sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the parish: and, after all, I believe she meant no harm; for when once she made you cry in good earnest, it seldom happened that she would not keep you company, and oblige you to be quiet that you might comfort her.

(Childhood) … she was never so happy as when we were all scolding her at once, and she defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words; turning Joseph's religious curses into ridicule, baiting me [Ellen] …

(1780, aged 15) At fifteen she was the queen of the countryside; she had no peer; and she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature!

(1780, aged 15) 'I didn’t touch you, you lying creature!' cried she, her fingers tingling to repeat the act, and her ears red with rage. She never had power to conceal her passion, it always set her whole complexion in a blaze.

'What’s that, then?' I retorted, showing a decided purple witness to refute her.

She stamped her foot, wavered a moment, and then, irresistibly impelled by the naughty spirit within her, slapped me on the cheek: a stinging blow that filled both eyes with water.

(1783, aged 18) 'Set two tables here, Ellen: one for your master [Edgar] and Miss Isabella, being gentry; the other for Heathcliff and myself, being of the lower orders.'

(1784, aged 18) It was enough to try the temper of a saint, such senseless, wicked rages! There [Catherine] lay dashing her head against the arm of the sofa, and grinding her teeth, so that you might fancy she would crash them to splinters!