Innocence And Experience In Bronte's Wuthering Heights

1386 Words 6 Pages
The time between innocence and experience is often marked by a series of changes that one must go through. Making this evolution as a female in the 1770’s was exceptionally demanding. Women tried to understand the world around them while fitting into subordinate positions to become proper members of society. This is true for Catherine, the young Cathy, and Isabella. Despite the difficulties that come with living in Wuthering Heights, they must learn to make this shift. In Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the female transition from innocence to experience occurs through the abandonment of naivety, forged independence, and the ability to face consequences.
Wuthering Heights follows Catherine, Cathy, and Isabella from the time that they are young girls
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Catherine acknowledges this choice as a rite of passage from childhood; after prompting from Edgar, Catherine “[required] to be let alone,” as she was so upset that she could “scarcely stand (Bronte, 93).” As she reflects on her life she claims that she “grew a blank,” while she “pondered, and worried [herself]” to try and find an answer (Bronte, 98). This “tragedy” stems from the “fact that the conflict is inevitable,” and Catherine grows up because she can no longer delay adult decisions, she must choose between Heathcliff and Edgar who make up the “two parts of herself (Moglen, 395)." This is a significant turning point for Catherine, because she cannot undo this choice or blame anyone other than herself for the outcome. Like Catherine, Cathy begins to leave her innocence and naivety behind once she ventures out. When Cathy leaves the oasis that is Thrushcross Grange, she encounters a world that leads her into experience and away from naivety. Since Linton "trusted [Cathy] to no one else," she "had not once been beyond the range of the park," until given the opportunity (Bronte, 146). It is here that Cathy first encounters Heathcliff. This physical departure from her place of childhood …show more content…
For Catherine, her consequence is that, in choosing Edgar, she loses Heathcliff. During her fit, Catherine exclaimed that she “shall not be at peace,” without “[her] Heathcliff (Bronte 125). This is a “declaration of identity,” and exemplifies the unavoidable bond that Heathcliff and Catherine share despite her choice of Edgar (Vine 347). Her decision ultimately drives her into madness and although she stays by Edgar, she laments over the love that she gave up. The pain and sorrow that she feels transfers fully admonishes the notion of innocence. The consequences that Cathy must face to make the full immersion into experience involve taking on responsibility for the independence that she so readily sought out at age thirteen. Nelly confronts Linton with the notion that Cathy came to Wuthering Heights not “because she hated [him}, but because of her kindness, and she must now live with the subsequent effects and abuse (Bronte 213). No longer naive and immature, Cathy takes the misconduct thrown her way and even maintains kindness, and unlike Isabella, she does not go completely cold. Cathy uses her experience and the kindness shown to her during her innocence to empathize and relate to Linton and at time, Heathcliff. This experience marks her transition into maturity and consequently opens her up to romance and a more realized appreciation for

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