emilysare19
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Discuss how the theme of imprisonment is explored through the stories of Catherine Earnshaw and Isabella Linton, as well as any other characters you might want to include.
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Englishteacher24
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Imprisonment can be interpreted literally as well as metaphorically:

  • Catherine is imprisoned by social norms and feels compelled to choose Edgar as her husband rather than Heathcliff, due to what they represent and what is approved of: Edgar represents civilisation and order while Heathcliff is an outsider. As a man with legacy and an established history, Edgar would be the better choice of husband due to his financial stability, while Heathcliff - a man whose past is unknown - lacks the social security (at least at the start of the novel), to support Catherine.
  • This is true of other characters within the novel e.g. Cathy, who initially pursues a relationship with Linton rather than Hareton due to her understanding of the importance of social class. Isabella, despite choosing to marry Heathcliff (very rebellious according to expectations of women at the time), is imprisoned in her marriage to Heathcliff and isolated from Edgar as a result. Wuthering Heights and her marriage to Heathcliff cause Isabella to flee while pregnant. Her degradation is evident in her appearance, as well as in her more savage impulses (e.g. desire to kill Heathcliff).
  • Both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are settings which imprison their characters - Thrushcross Grange acts a symbol of separation (due to Catherine's marriage to Edgar) between Catherine and Heathcliff. Later in the novel, Catherine in her sickness dreams of Wuthering Heights. Thrushcross Grange also imprisons Cathy as a young woman, a symbol of Edgar's patriarchal power and control. As a blend of both Catherine and Edgar, however, Cathy yearns for nature and ultimately breaks these boundaries. Wuthering Heights is oppressive, as seen through Cathy's position as a widow, described at the start of the novel. Nelly is also imprisoned there. Contrast to the end of the novel, when Wuthering Heights is more open and free following the death of Heathcliff, its former owner and tyrant.
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