What is the significance of Catherine's pronuncement "I am Heathcliff!"?

5 Answers | Add Yours

coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

In the novel 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte, Catherine and Heathcliffe's bond is os close,even as children, that they sometimes feel like one person. As believers in the Christian faith the Bronte  girls would have been familiar with the idea that during the sacrament of marriage two people become 'one in Christ' forming a new unit which may lead one day to a new family. Emily of course did not wholeheartedly subscribe to this view! However, the idea is still significant  because it illustrates her (and Catherine's) metaphysical side. It represents the archetypal passion to be whole with the one we love, it symbolises eternity as you never have to worry about being apart - you are one entity. In return, 'the other half' gives their whole self back - unfortunately a tall order for any couple, as is seen in the novel.

daisydharma's profile pic

daisydharma | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

This is the moment in which Catherine realizes that she and Heathcliff are each part of one shared soul.  Since returning from Thrushcross Grange, she has tried to distance herself from Heathcliff.  In her mind, she has placed herself in a better class...a higher position...than him.  She has repeatedly looked down at him with pity and scorn.  Yet when she is faced with the possibility of alienating him for good by marrying Edgar, she realizes that she can never truly escape him.  He is as much a part of her as she is of him.

honglena81's profile pic

honglena81 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Catherine's grand and unforgettable pronouncement, "I am Heathcliff," strikes us initially as the epitome of romantic desire; it comes early in the novel, and few readers expect things to go as badly as they do. We increasingly understand what it means to be another, as well as oneself. With Heathcliff gone, Catherine marries the likable Edgar Linton, who is smitten with her. She moves into Thrushcross Grange. A few years later, Heathcliff, utterly altered, returns. Handsome, rich exuding a sense of power, he pronounces an implacable judgement on the events that have taken place. First, He indicts Edgar as an impossible love-object for someone of Catherine's vital and generous nature. Hs most withering and tragic indictment, however, is of Catherine. In betraying him, she has betrayed herself. This is not mere rhetoric: Catherine, faced with the return of Heathcliff and his insistence on the wreckage her marriage has wrought, becomes ill. The novel is merciless in its almost clinical account of Heathcliff bearing down on Catherine to remind her of the criminality of her actions. This isn't a simple argument in which one person tells another that he thinks she has done something wrong; here, everything Catherine has done, she has done to Heathcliff, as well.

udonbutterfly's profile pic

udonbutterfly | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

There is so many things going around when Catherine says "I am Heathcliff!" These are probably the words that Heathcliff never got to hear that mattered the most. Catherine said these while confiding in Nelly of how she was torn between marrying Edgar because he has good looks, wealth, and status and she could learn to love him over the time where as Heathcliff was her "eternal rock" but she is aware that  couldn't live on just love for the rest of her life. With her saying these word she acknowledges Heathcliff's importance to her as if they are one of the same person because their love runs that deep. Whatever ever hurts him hurts her so in that sentence she knows she's wrong for even thinking about marrying Edgar. So Thus the man vs self conflict with Catherine.

yazzy93's profile pic

yazzy93 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

This simple, short statement can suggest many things. For instance, it may mean that Heathcliff and Catherine’s love is inevitable. It doesn’t matter what happens on earth, they will be together for eternity. Catherine may be saying that Heathcliff is always there in her thoughts and feelings. This sentence also could show that the pairs love is on a higher level, almost spiritual, that they are to halves of the same soul. ‘Two peas in a pod’. The quote also suggests a profound sense of connection or identity with each other. Heathcliff refers to Catherine as his “soul”. I think that this quote is an explanation for Heathcliff and Catherine’s peculiar love. I think that Bronte writes it in this way in order to get the readers attention and question it further like I have just done above. Although it is only three words, the quote is meaningful and the reason the sentence is short could be to catch the reader’s eye.

We’ve answered 317,818 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question