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What does Heathcliff's rejection  of a minister signify?Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

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sandj | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:44 AM via web

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What does Heathcliff's rejection  of a minister signify?

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 5, 2011 at 11:33 PM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter 34 of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, it is with a strange, excited expression that Heathcliff moves restlessly around after he has been out all night on the moors.  Clearly, he seems possessed with some image or thought as he cannot eat, but clenches his hands and seem enraptured of something that is nearby. 

The fancied object was not fixed, either; his eyes pursued it with unwearied vigilance, and, even in speaking to [Nellie], were never weaned away.

 Disturbed by his behavior, Nellie reminds Heathcliff that he has not eaten, but when he reaches for food, his arm stops before the food reaches his mouth as he so transfixed by his visions.  Later, in the night, Nellie hears Heathcliff pacing in his room, calling the name of Catherine.  Since he remains awake all night, Nellie knocks upon his door, asking if he wants a candle in the darkness.  Heathcliff rejects her offer and tells her strangely that his "soul's bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself." 

At this point Nellie entreats him to let her send for a minister so that he can make amends for his heathen life.  But, Heathcliff rejects this idea, insisting that he is not interested in going to Heaven,

" I have nearly attained my heaven; and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me!"

Here Heathcliff alludes to his vision, which must be of Catherine.  For, when Catherine has died in Chapter 16, Heathcliff has begged her to haunt him:

"Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living!  You said I killed you--haunt me, then!....I cannot live without my soul!"

That same night, Heathcliff is enraptured as he again sees Catherine; she comes through the window for him, and he dies with a "life-like gaze of exultation" upon his face.

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