What is the significance of the ending/closing scene in Wuthering Heights?
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For such a passionate and intense story of love and revenge, Wuthering Heights has a happy and peaceful ending. That is the purpose of the closing scene. Mr. Lockwood has just finished learning about Heathcliff's last days and Nelly also tells him that young Catherine and Hareton are to be married, once and for all uniting the two families. As Lockwood walks back home, he comes upon the graves of Heathcliff, Catherine and Edgar. Catherine's grave is almost totally covered with brush, Edgar's mildly so, and Heathcliff's is bare, because his death is the most recent. Lockwood sees young Catherine and Hareton walking home, hand in hand, and he says:
I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.
Hareton and young Catherine seem to embody the positive characteristics of their parents. Now that Heathcliff is dead, evil has been removed from their midst and they no longer need to live in fear of what Heathcliff might do next. So we get the idea they will live happily ever after.
The ending of this impecable novel is indeed serence and tranquilizing for an otheriwse tumolous novel. It is felt that the ending/ last chapter of the novel is consequential for various reasons.
After Heathcliff's death, the sense of evil being visted upon young cathy and hareton is removed. Evil has perished eternally. Moreover, with the termination of the products of calm (edgar & isabella) and products of storm (heathcliff, catherine and hindley) Cosmic Balance prevails. This terminology is introduced by a critic, Lord David Cecil. Young Cathy and Hareton are the mixture of storm and calm, each characteristic inherited by each parent thus they both consitute of a blend of the 2 extremes. it is felt that this cosmic balance is the mere reason of tranquility and peace at the end of the novel.
The theme of secrecy ends over here since for the first time in the novel "many a window showed black gaps deprived of glass, and slates jutted off". windows, doors and locks symbolised transcendence. with blocked windows and locked doors, charaters were devoid of freedom in action (symbolically) and movement. they had to break these barriers to transcend and reach out to other places and characters. Hardly any chapter is written without a description of locked doors and windows. so this imagery is very significant.
Eternal harmony prevails at the end of the novel as each character attains what he/she had been yearning for in life. Catherine is buried between Edgar her doting husbnad and Heathcliff, her most passionate lover. Atlast she has achieved both men and this wish was an old desire of her's. her postioning in the grave also denotes her conflicting loyalties to both men. Akin to her, edgar is with catherine , his "idol". and Heathcliff is with cathy thus fullfilling his prophecy/most desired wish "By the time Linton gets to us he'll not know which is which" for heathcliff would be "harmonized" with cathy in soul and body thus fullfilling (in literal)the most famous dialogue of cathy "i AM heathcliff
We must also pay heed to the fact that nature is revelling and rejoicing this most awaited harmony of Catherine and Heathcliff & young cathy and hareton. the sky is "benign" and the "stormy wind" is replaced by a "soft wind breathing through the grass". it is felt that Bronte' intends to give a very pleasant vibe since evil has been wrenched out of the novel with the Byronic hero, Heathcliff's death. The aura that the readers feel is that of jubliancy and a fresh new start. moreover its april, the commencement of spring. a season that is associated with mirth and happiness. also notice that hareton and young cathy;s wedding will take place on new year's eve, meaning a new year, a new start, a new era will now begin n it is felt that if bronte' had wriitten a second novel based on the remaining characters, it would have consisted of cosmic balance and would have been names as "thrushcross grange".
"an wondered how any one could ever imagine unquet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth". this is the last sentence of the novel. it is very potent as it gives meaning and power to the theme of spiritualtity and supernatural. this sentence manifests that now the spirits of the deceased will start a new life. bronte seems to be a fan of the supernatural so we have to think like her n be welcoming to the thought of ghosts to fathom the novel. it may seem eerie at first but if read thoroughly and with dedication, one realises that the
... real power lies in this theme. it is very much thought provoking. this is also substantiated by Jospeh who affirms of watching heathcliff and catherine many a nights and so do the villagers say. the endiing of the novel is very small by has cryptic meaning. meaning that is essential to decipher in order to master the novel.
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