Wuthering Heights and Macbeth
These two novels have a large amount of similarities, particularly in the characters of Catherine Earnshaw and Lady Macbeth. Emily Bronte actually made references to Macbeth in her novel, firstly, when Mr Lockwood’s narration makes reference to a cat called Grimalkin at the Heights, and later on, near the end of the novel, when Heathcliff addresses the younger Cathy “my chick” as Macbeth addresses Lady Macbeth as “my dearest chuck”, strengthening the ties between the texts.
Upon the first encounters with Lady Macbeth, the audience recognise her as a forceful and dominant character, with an almost masculine personality, much like the bold and brazen Catherine Earnshaw. Lady Macbeth is wholly focussed on her own status, and her own achievement in society; she is completely selfish. Catherine is very selfish in terms of her position in society, because even though she loves Heathcliff to the point where she believes he is part of her, she still goes on to marry Edgar because of his position in society, his wealth, and therefore ability to provide for her. This also links to Lady Macbeth’s desire to be queen; her desire for utmost power and to claim the highest possible position in society for the benefit of herself, disregarding everyone else. Through Cathy’s love of Heathcliff, we see that she is capable of tenderness and warmth, despite being selfish and cruel to him. Lady Macbeth talks of knowing the tenderness of loving a suckling baby, proving to the audience her womanhood and increasing the complexity of her character. Another striking similarity between them is they both portray signs of madness and mental instability. Catherine is unable to reconcile her passion for Heathcliff with her marriage to Edgar, and as a result she resorts to self-destruction: “grinding her teeth”, “stretching herself out stiff” and having a “ghastly countenance”, all of which are due to her imprisonment in her marriage. Lady Macbeth is imprisoned also, by her guilt and ambition. She hallucinates, and sees blood all over hands: “Out, damned spot; out, I say!” This demonstrates that the Lady Macbeth and Catherine Earnshaw are both solely responsible for their own descent into madness, and are victims of their own villainy.
Lady Macbeth is a very complex character, and there is a clear difference between the character she portrays and the character she actually is. When she says “How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me” she is showing us that she has a maternal side to her; that she is not as villainous as she pretends to be. In fact, I think she feels that she is far too compassionate, as her wish to be “unsexed” and her request that the spirits “take her milk for gall” shows she fears she is too compassionate, and it will put her ambition at risk. Catherine, on the other hand, shows her gentle heart through love of Heathcliff, but then completely reverses that opinion when she marries Edgar, despite loving Heathcliff ferocious...