For today’s post, I have decided to do a discussion of an interesting alternate interpretation of the character of Catherine Earnshaw based on close reading of the novel and folkloric research. This is something that has been on my mind since my most recent re-read of Wuthering Heights. My favorite theory about Catherine which is a bit of a personal head cannon is that she was in fact a Faery Changeling all along!
At the very beginning of the novel, we hear Joseph refer to Catherine Heathcliff (that would be Cathy Earnshaw’s daughter) as a witch. Catherine encouraged this interpretation of her in her hate of Joseph. Not long after this, we have the famous scene where Mr. Lockwood first encountered Cathy’s ghost. During this scene, Lockwood literally called Cathy a Changeling. If she had been a Changeling, it would make sense that her own daughter would go on to practice magic.
I would like to state that the fact that Cathy is a ghost can be seen as a hint that she was in fact a Faery Changeling all along. It is common in folklore to state that magical people are the ones that could stick around after death. It was often stated that Werewolves became Vampires after death, which was also stated of Witches in certain folkloric motifs. Faery folklore also states that some special humans can become Fae in death!
Now, if we assume that Cathy was a Faery Changeling that was traded with the human baby of her parents just after birth we can see her ability to remain earthbound in death as a connection to her magical origins. Her youth spent running wild in the Moors with Heathcliff is likewise something that further connects her to Faery’s energy. She was a young woman who was deeply in tune with nature, even seeming to worship it in ways. We see this in the way she describes the difference in her love of Heathcliff when compared to her much lesser romantic feelings for Edgar Linton. She literally compares them to elements of the woods and she also states that she and Heathcliff have souls that are made of the same stuff. This can also lead us to think that Heathcliff himself, with his unknown origins, could be a Dark Faery, which is why he is able to join Catherine in haunting the Moors upon his own death! It could also explain his gaining of wealth, using Faery Glamour maybe? I have to admit that this has been my own specific interpretation of Wuthering Heights. It is a conclusion that I have come to over years of re-reading this novel. I hope you have enjoyed my short analysis of this interpretation of Cathy Earnshaw Linton! What do you think, was Cathy possibly a Changeling? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a lovely and haunting picture of Cathy that was posted on deviant art. I found it on https://www.deviantart.com/quiteproustian/art/Cathy-Earnshaw-290819608.
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte