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In Chapter 16, how do Edgar and Heathcliff react differently to news of Catherine's death?

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vwong24 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:26 AM via web

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In Chapter 16, how do Edgar and Heathcliff react differently to news of Catherine's death?

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nandini289 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted September 17, 2010 at 12:36 AM (Answer #1)

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After Catherine death the condition of Edgar and Heathcliiff is described by Nelly,because it is Nelly who has given to Lockwood an account of the circumstances in which Catherine died.She then goes on to give him an account of the subsequent developments. She says that Edgar's grief over Catherine's death was intense, and that it would be very painful to her (Nelly) to describe his grief.The after-effects of Catherine's death on Edgar showed that the sorrow had sunk very deep in Edgar's heart. Edgar had sat throughout the night by the dead body of his wife,with his head laid on the pillow,and his eyes closed. His young and handsome face had seemed to be almost as death-like as that of the dead Catherine was. There had been the same fixity and immobility on his features as there was on the dead Catherine's features. The only difference between them at  that time his hush and stillness were a result of anguish and exhaustion, while Catherine's stillness and silence were a consequence of the perfect peace which death had brought with it.

On the other hand when Nelly had gone out of the house to inform Heathcliff, who had been waiting outside,about Catherine's death. Heathcliff had already come to know of the death. He had been leaning against a tree ,with his hat off, and his hair drenched in the dew which had accumulated on the branches of the tree and had been falling on him drop by drop . He had been standing in that position for quite a long time. Heathcliff asked to Nelly, if Catherine had died like a saint. He wanted a true account of the event. It was evident to Nelly that he had been holding a silent combat with his inward agony, and that he did not need any of her sympathy. He was trembling to his very finger-ends. Nelly felt that this man, though very strong minded, had a heart and nerves similar to every other man's. She told him that Catherine had died quietly as a lamb and that she had heaved a sigh and , stretching herself had sunk to sleep. On The describing about the death of Catherine before Heathcliff she expressed her wish that Catherine should wake up as gently in the other world as she had died in this world, Heathcliff become almost violent and says, " May she wake in torment !" He said with frightful vehemence. Stamping his foot on the ground , and groaning in a sudden fit of anger,he said that Catherine had been a liar to the very end of her life.She was certainly not in heaven. He had one prayer to offer; and his prayer was : Catherine Earnshaw , may you not rest as long as I am living !" He then went on to say that if he had killed her as she had alleged, she should haunt him as a ghost.His grief, he went on to say , was inexpressible.Then he declared that he could not live without Catherine who had been his lif and his soul.

Saying these words , Heathcliff dashed his head against the trunk of the tree against which he had been leaning. He then lifted his eyes and howled,not like the man, but like the several splashes of blood on the tree trunk ; and she also saw that Heathcliff's hand were stained with blood. Most probably he had been anxiously waiting for some news of Catherine who yet lay in her bed , dangerously ill.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted September 13, 2010 at 6:57 AM (Answer #2)

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In the book Wuthering Heightsby Emily Bronte, Heathcliff is distraught over Cathy's death.  He turns his despondency to anger and curses her soul.  He curses her that she should find no peace in her death.  Nellie had gone to him to tell him but had found him outside against a tree.  He tells Nellie that he will not cry or Cathy. 

"May she wake in torment!’ he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion."

Edgar is sad and mourns his wife's loss, but he also grieves because he does not have a male heir but rather a small female infant.  Nellie convinces him to bequeath his estate to the female child.  Initially Edgar ignores the child.  He is found the next morning with his head placed sadly next to his dead wife's head.  His face looks wrought with grief.

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