Form and Content (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
Wuthering Heights is a story of passionate love that encompasses two generations of two families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons. It is a framed tale narrated by two different characters, one with intimate knowledge of the families (Nelly Dean) and one unacquainted with their history. The first narrator is the stranger, Mr. Lockwood. A wealthy, educated man, Lockwood has chosen to rent a house in the isolated moors, saying that he has wearied of society. Yet his actions belie his words: He pursues a friendship with Heathcliff despite the latter’s objections and seeks information about all the citizens of the neighborhood. Lockwood is steeped in the conventions of his class, and he consistently misjudges the people he meets at Wuthering Heights. He assumes that Hareton Earnshaw, the rightful owner of Wuthering Heights, is a servant and that Catherine Linton is a demure wife to Heathcliff. His statements, even about himself, are untrustworthy, requiring the corrective of Nelly Dean’s narrative.
Lockwood cultivates Nelly Dean’s friendship when a long illness, brought on by his foolish attempt to visit Heathcliff during a snowstorm, keeps him bedridden for weeks. Nelly has been reared with the Earnshaws and has been a servant in both households. She has observed much of the central drama between the two families, but her statements, too, are colored by prejudice. Nelly dislikes Catherine Earnshaw, who behaved selfishly and treated the servants...
(The entire section is 492 words.)
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Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Yorkshire. Region comprising three English counties—North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire—in northern central England. The properties of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are located in this region of Yorkshire’s lonely, wild, and sparsely populated moors. The moors are characterized by spacious, open grassland and the heather that grows abundantly throughout the region.
Wuthering Heights. Estate of the Earnshaw family located on England’s Yorkshire moors. Wuthering Heights is described by Mr. Lockwood, a tenant at neighboring Thrushcross Grange, as desolate and the ideal home of a misanthropist. Lockwood explains that “wuthering” is a local word used to describe the tumultuous and stormy conditions that are common at Wuthering Heights. The house itself seems dark and forbidding, with a decidedly Gothic physical and spiritual atmosphere. Upon entering the gates of Wuthering Heights for the first time, Lockwood points out its general state of disrepair, especially noting the carvings of griffins at the threshold. Mr. Lockwood also observes that Heathcliff appears as a gentleman, in sharp contrast to the house itself, while the young Catherine Linton Heathcliff appears wild and untamed. He finds in time, though, that in reality the opposite is true.
As the novel progresses and the house passes from one owner to the next, in and out of the...
(The entire section is 790 words.)
Context (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
When it was first published, Wuthering Heights received almost no attention from critics, and what little there was proved to be negative. Critical opinion deemed the book immoral, and Charlotte Brontë felt moved to apologize for it after Emily’s death by saying that her sister wrote during the feverish stages of tuberculosis. To publish at all, the Brontë sisters chose to submit their works using male pseudonyms because they believed that it would be impossible to market their poems and novels otherwise. They experienced many rejections and were never recompensed fairly for the value of their work. When their identity was revealed, many critics expressed surprise (that the novels could be written by inexperienced women who lived in isolated circumstances) and shock (that the violence and passion of Wuthering Heights could be conceived by a woman at all). There has even been a serious attempt made to prove that Emily’s brother, Branwell, was the true author of Wuthering Heights.
This reaction suggests the reluctance of the Victorian public to accept challenges to the dominant belief that women were beneficent moral influences whose primary function was to provide a pure environment for men who, of necessity, sullied themselves in the world of work. Wuthering Heights provides no overt rebellion against this view, but the depiction of female characters who display anger, passion, and a desire for independence...
(The entire section is 398 words.)
The Victorian Age (1837-1901)
England under the reign of Queen Victoria was in a prolonged phase of expansion. The Industrial Revolution saw the transformation of a predominately agricultural economy to a factory economy. Millions would eventually flock to London in search of the new jobs, but Emily Brontë grew up in the last days of rural England. The tenor of the times was conservative, and sensitive to society's unwillingness to accept women as authors, Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë all published under male pseudonyms.
The tempestuous climate of northern England in Haworth, Yorkshire, left its mark on the Brontë children, whose fascination with the expanse and storms of the moors is emphasized in the novel. For Emily, who was never happy far from home, the local moorland and valleys, and the grit stone architecture typical of the age were the basis for the setting of Wuthering Heights.
Another influence on Brontë's writing was the folklore of the Yorkshire community. Tabitha Ackroyd, a maid in the Brontë household, was a rich source of stories about fairies and ghosts. References to folk beliefs and rituals are scattered throughout Wuthering...
(The entire section is 1000 words.)
Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. How does Lockwood describe the Yorkshire section of England?
2. What makes Lockwood enter the gate, despite Heathcliff’s rudeness?
3. Whose name does Lockwood see carved into the threshold, and why can’t he ask about it?
4. What does Lockwood’s instinct tell him about Heathcliff’s reserved manner?
5. Why does Heathcliff leave Lockwood alone with his dogs?
6. What does Lockwood do to cause the dog to attack him?
7. How do Joseph and Heathcliff react to Lockwood’s cry for help?
8. What reasons does Lockwood give for deciding not to make a further issue about his attack?
9. What final impression does Heathcliff have of Lockwood?
10. Does Lockwood give a reason for wanting to visit again?
1. Lockwood describes Yorkshire as a beautiful country, completely isolated, and “a perfect misanthropist’s heaven.”
2. Lockwood was interested in a man who was even less friendly than himself.
3. Lockwood sees the name Hareton Earnshaw, but can’t ask about it because of Heathcliff’s impatience.
4. Heathcliff’s reserve believes Lockwood is a result of an aversion to showy displays of feeling.
5. Heathcliff has gone to find Joseph, who has not responded to his call.
6. Lockwood winked and made faces at the dogs, which...
(The entire section is 281 words.)
Chapter 2 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Lockwood decide to return to the Heights?
2. Who lets Lockwood into the house?
3. How does Lockwood make himself look foolish to the young woman in the kitchen?
4. How does Lockwood respond when she asks him if he has been invited to stay for tea?
5. Who does Lockwood at first assume the young lady to be?
6. What does Lockwood intend to do when he incorrectly assumes she is married to Hareton?
7. Who unexpectedly tries to accompany Lockwood home?
8. How is Cathy related to Heathcliff?
9. What causes Lockwood to run out of the house?
10. Who comes to Lockwood’s aid when he is again attacked by the dogs?
1. Despite the chilly weather, Lockwood wishes to escape the disruption of his servant girl cleaning.
2. Hareton beckons to Lockwood from the yard and leads him into the kitchen.
3. Lockwood mistakes a pile of dead rabbits for her pet dog, causing her to sneer, “a strange choice of favorites.”
4. He tells her that she is the proper person to have issued the invitation.
5. Lockwood assumes the young lady is Heathcliff’s wife.
6. He intends to make her regret choosing Hareton for a husband by making her fall in love with him.
7. Hareton unexpectedly offers to escort Lockwood part of the way...
(The entire section is 254 words.)
Chapter 3 Questions and Answers
1. What does Lockwood discover on the window ledge?
2. What is described in Catherine’s diary?
3. How does Catherine view Hindley and his wife?
4. What torments Lockwood during his first dream?
5. What wakens Lockwood from this dream?
6. Who begs to be allowed into the room?
7. How does Lockwood get free from the child’s grasp?
8. How many years has the child’s ghost been wandering?
9. What is Heathcliff’s reaction to Lockwood’s screams?
10. Why does Heathcliff raise his hand to Cathy?
1. Lockwood discovers a few mildewed books piled in a corner.
2. Catherine describes a dreary Sunday afternoon in which she and Heathcliff are forced to endure Joseph’s religious sermons.
3. Catherine thinks Hindley and his wife Frances are selfish, foolish lovebirds, negligent in their care of she and Heathcliff.
4. Lockwood is tormented by Joseph, who threatens him for his sins, and leads an attack on Lockwood.
5. A dry fir tree branch, brushing against the window, awakens Lockwood.
6. A ghostly child, calling herself Catherine Linton, begs Lockwood to let her enter.
7. He tricks her into letting go by telling her he cannot let her in if she doesn’t let go.
8. The ghost says she has been a wandering...
(The entire section is 259 words.)
Chapters 4 and 5 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Heathcliff live at the Heights instead of the Grange?
2. How is Cathy related to Hareton?
3. Who are the last remaining members of the Earnshaw and Linton families, respectively?
4. Under what circumstances did Heathcliff arrive at the Heights?
5. How did Heathcliff get his name?
6. What was the cause of Hindley’s alienation from his father?
7. What sort of relationship did Heathcliff have with Hindley?
8. Where is Hindley when his father dies?
9. How does Catherine generally behave?
10. How do Catherine and Heathcliff react to Earnshaw’s death?
1. Although the Grange is a nicer home, Heathcliff prefers to rent it out and live in the Heights.
2. Cathy and Hareton are first cousins; Cathy’s mother, Catherine, and Hareton’s father, Hindley, were siblings.
3. Hareton is the last remaining member of the Earnshaw family, and Cathy is the last remaining Linton.
4. Heathcliff was found, orphaned and starving, on the streets of Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw, and brought home to be raised as a member of the family.
5. He was named Heathcliff, after a son who had died in infancy.
6. Due to Earnshaw’s preference for Heathcliff, Hindley began to regard his father as an oppressor rather than a friend.
(The entire section is 274 words.)
Chapters 6 and 7 Questions and Answers
1. What surprise does Hindley bring when he returns home?
2. What is Nelly’s opinion of Frances?
3. What stern measures does Hindley impose on Heathcliff?
4. What circumstances cause Catherine to remain at the Grange?
5. How do the Lintons treat Heathcliff?
6. How has Catherine changed during her stay at the Grange?
7. When does Nelly begin to feel guilty about Heathcliff?
8. What does Heathcliff want Nelly to help him do?
9. What advice does Nelly give Heathcliff?
10. What causes Heathcliff to swear everlasting revenge on Hindley?
1. Hindley returns home with a wife, much to everyone’s surprise.
2. Nelly thinks Frances is foolish, although she finds her thin, young, and fresh complexioned. Although she mentions that Frances has a troublesome cough, Nelly doesn’t worry or sympathize.
3. Hindley no longer allows Heathcliff to eat or live with the family. He is sent to live in with the servants and work among them.
4. Spying on the Linton children, Catherine is bitten on the ankle by their dog, and is invited to recuperate at their home.
5. The Lintons treat Heathcliff as if he were a thief, and throw him out of their house.
6. After five weeks with the Lintons, Catherine returns home with much improved manners, and...
(The entire section is 295 words.)
Chapter 8 Questions and Answers
1. What is Mr. Kenneth’s diagnosis of Frances’ condition?
2. Who will care for Hareton once Frances dies?
3. How does Hindley react to Frances’ death?
4. What happens to the household?
5. What is Nelly’s opinion of Catherine’s attitude?
6. How does Catherine maintain “a double character”?
7. At the age of sixteen, how does Heathcliff appear?
8. What is Heathcliff’s complaint when he visits Catherine?
9. What does Catherine do to drive Edgar away?
10. What advice does Nelly give Edgar?
1. Mr. Kenneth believes that tuberculosis will have killed Frances before winter.
2. Hareton will be entirely under Nelly’s supervision.
3. Hindley becomes despondent. He mainly gets drunk and returns home in wild and unpredictable moods.
4. All the servants except for Nelly and Joseph leave. No one, not even the curate, comes to visit anymore.
5. Nelly finds Catherine unbearably haughty, arrogant, and overly impressed with her own beauty.
6. Catherine maintains a “double character” by remaining headstrong at home, but lady-like at the Lintons.
7. Heathcliff has completely lost any self-esteem he might have had under Mr. Earnshaw’s protection. Unschooled and morose, he seems to encourage aversion rather...
(The entire section is 235 words.)
Chapter 9 Questions and Answers
1. What are Hareton’s feelings for his father?
2. Why does Hindley dangle Hareton over the stair rail?
3. Who saves Hareton?
4. Why is Heathcliff angry with himself?
5. Why does Catherine say she loves Edgar?
6. What fault does Nelly find with Catherine’s answer?
7. What bothers Catherine about her decision to marry?
8. What causes Heathcliff to run away?
9. How does Catherine become ill?
10. Why must Nelly leave Hareton?
1. Hareton is terrified of his father, never knowing if he will be kissed or killed.
2. Hindley is angered that Hareton will not respond to his attempts to soothe him.
3. Heathcliff enters just as Hareton falls, and reflexively catches him.
4. If Hareton had died, Hindley’s remorse would have killed him. By saving the baby, Heathcliff has lost the chance to enjoy Hindley’s destruction.
5. Catherine loves Edgar because he is handsome, pleasant, young, rich, and adores her.
6. Nelly says Edgar’s love has nothing to do with Catherine’s decisions; she is marrying him for his money and his looks.
7. In her heart and soul, Catherine feels she is doing wrong.
8. Heathcliff overhears Catherine’s admission that their souls are as one, and that she can only love him....
(The entire section is 226 words.)
Chapter 10 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Lockwood so pleased when Heathcliff visits?
2. What information about Heathcliff does Lockwood wish to know?
3. What has Catherine’s life been like at the Grange?
4. After how many years does Heathcliff return?
5. How does Catherine react to his return?
6. Why is Heathcliff living at Wuthering Heights?
7. Who becomes infatuated with Heathcliff?
8. Why does this cause Edgar distress?
9. How does Catherine react to Isabella’s interest in Heathcliff?
10. How does Catherine embarrass Isabella?
1. Lockwood has been alone, recuperating for four weeks, and is desperate for company.
2. Lockwood does not know how Heathcliff became educated or how he got his money.
3. Life has been very pleasant. Catherine is fond of her husband and sister-in-law, both of whom indulge her every whim.
4. Heathcliff has returned after three years.
5. Catherine is overjoyed, and tells Edgar he must be friendly to Heathcliff for her sake.
6. Since Hindley owes large gambling debts, he cannot refuse the generous rent Heathcliff is willing to pay him.
7. Isabella Linton becomes strongly attracted to Heathcliff, despite the fact that he does little to hide his contempt for her.
8. Not only does he love his sister and...
(The entire section is 235 words.)
Chapters 11 and 12 Questions and Answers
1. What vision causes Nelly to rush to the Heights?
2. What does she discover about Hareton?
3. How does Catherine learn of Heathcliff’s attentions to Isabella?
4. How does Catherine react?
5. When does Edgar confront Heathcliff and order him to leave?
6. Why does Edgar hit Heathcliff?
7. What demand does Edgar make of Catherine?
8. How does Catherine react to Edgar’s order?
9. Why doesn’t Nelly take Catherine’s hysteria seriously?
10. What news does Kenneth bring of Isabella?
1. Nelly sees an omen of Hindley’s impending death.
2. Under Heathcliff’s direction, Hareton’s education has been stopped, and instead he has learned to curse and hit.
3. Nelly observes Heathcliff trying to kiss Isabella, and tells Catherine.
4. Catherine accuses Heathcliff of insincerity.
5. When Nelly tells him Heathcliff and Catherine have been quarreling, Edgar orders him to leave.
6. Heathcliff tells Edgar he is not worth striking. Catherine calls him a coward, so Edgar hits Heathcliff.
7. Edgar demands Catherine choose between Heathcliff and himself.
8. Catherine tells Edgar to leave, locks herself in her room, and refuses to eat.
9. Nelly believes Catherine is being manipulative.
(The entire section is 188 words.)
Chapters 13 and 14 Questions and Answers
1. Is Catherine’s recuperation completed?
2. What gives Edgar further hopes for her recovery?
3. What does Isabella write to Edgar?
4. How does Isabella now regard her husband?
5. What impression does Isabella get of Hindley?
6. Why does Hindley warn Isabella to lock her bedroom door?
7. What does Nelly ask Edgar to do?
8. How does Isabella appear when Nelly visits her?
9. Why does Isabella tell Nelly she cannot return home?
10. What requests does Heathcliff make of Nelly?
1. No, while Catherine’s return to physical health is coming slowly, her mental state is still weak.
2. Edgar is pleased that Catherine’s pregnancy will produce an heir, thus removing the threat of Heathcliff’s claim.
3. Isabella tells Edgar she is married to Heathcliff and apologizes for having offended him.
4. Isabella wonders if Heathcliff is insane or simply the devil.
5. Isabella barely recognizes Hindley; he is terribly thin and extremely slovenly, although his eyes were “like a ghostly Catherine, with all their beauty annihilated.”
6. Hindley tells Isabella when he is drunk at night, he may be tempted to shoot Heathcliff, and would not wish to hit her by mistake.
7. Nelly hopes Edgar will write Isabella a note which she...
(The entire section is 256 words.)
Chapters 15 and 16 Questions and Answers
1. What does Catherine do with Heathcliff’s letter?
2. What does Catherine accuse Heathcliff and Edgar of doing?
3. What about Heathcliff and Catherine’s embrace disturbs Nelly?
4. Why won’t Catherine let go of Heathcliff, even as Edgar approaches?
5. How does Edgar react when he sees Catherine in Heathcliff’s arms?
6. When does Catherine finally die?
7. How do Edgar and Heathcliff mourn Catherine?
8. What does Heathcliff pray for when Catherine dies?
9. Who is absent from her funeral?
10. Where is she buried?
1. Catherine lets the letter drop from her hand without even noticing it is from Heathcliff.
2. She says they both have broken her heart, yet each of them pities himself, rather than her.
3. She feels that she is “not in the company of a creature of my own species.”
4. Aware that she is dying, she wants to hold him one last time.
5. Edgar is furious, but Heathcliff hands her to him and tells him to take care of her first.
6. Around two o’clock in the morning, two hours after giving birth to her daughter, Cathy, Catherine dies.
7. Edgar holds vigil by Catherine’s coffin while Heathcliff mourns down below in the garden.
8. Heathcliff wants Catherine’s soul to know no rest...
(The entire section is 244 words.)
Chapter 17 Questions and Answers
1. Why has Isabella returned to the Grange?
2. What plan did Hindley have for Heathcliff after the funeral?
3. Why does Isabella warn Heathcliff of Hindley’s trap?
4. What prevents Heathcliff from beating Hindley to death?
5. How does Isabella finally get away from Heathcliff?
6. How does Nelly’s response to Isabella’s criticisms of Heathcliff show that her feelings toward him have mellowed?
7. Who has helped Edgar overcome his grief at losing his wife?
8. Where does Isabella go after her escape?
9. How does Hindley dies?
10. Why does Edgar decide not to fight Heathcliff regarding Hareton’s custody?
1. Isabella has just escaped from the Heights, and needs Nelly to get her fresh clothes and a carriage to town.
2. Hindley schemes to free Isabella and himself from their misery by either shooting or stabbing Heathcliff to death.
3. Although she never says why directly, Isabella had earlier rejected using vengeance and treachery to free herself.
4. Joseph warns Heathcliff that he has gone too far, and he will summon the magistrate (Edgar) if Heathcliff doesn’t stop.
5. Isabella goads Heathcliff to tears by mentioning Catherine’s name. When she laughs at him, he throws a knife at her. Throwing it back, he lunges for her, but...
(The entire section is 290 words.)
Chapters 18 and 19 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Cathy want to visit Pennistone Crag?
2. Where does Nelly locate Cathy?
3. How did Cathy and Hareton meet?
4. For whom does Cathy mistake Hareton?
5. Why doesn’t Cathy believe Hareton is her cousin?
6. What are some of Nelly’s observations regarding Hareton?
7. How has Joseph treated Hareton?
8. How do the villagers speak of Heathcliff?
9. How does Linton arrive at the Grange?
10. Why does Edgar agree to let Linton go to his father the following morning?
1. Bored by her restrictions to Thrushcross Park, Cathy wants to explore beyond its boundaries.
2. Nelly finds Cathy sitting in the kitchen at the Heights.
3. As Cathy rode past the Heights, one of the dogs began fighting with Cathy’s dog. Hareton came out to help, and agreed to escort Cathy to the Crag.
4. At first, Cathy assumes Hareton is the master’s son, but then decides he must be a servant.
5. Cathy is unaware of Hareton’s existence. The only cousin she knows of is Linton.
6. Nelly sees a good-looking, athletic eighteen-year-old dressed in farmer’s clothes. She senses he is innately intelligent, and laments that Heathcliff has left him unschooled.
7. Joseph has not interfered with Heathcliff’s neglect of the boy, but has...
(The entire section is 284 words.)
Chapters 20 and 21 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Nelly feel sorry for Linton when he leaves his uncle’s house?
2. How do Joseph and Heathcliff react when they meet Linton?
3. What does Linton say to Nelly when she leaves?
4. How do Hareton and Linton get along?
5. What plan does Heathcliff have for Linton and Cathy?
6. Why does Cathy leave Wuthering Heights upset with Edgar?
7. How does Heathcliff embarrass Hareton?
8. How do Linton and Cathy develop their relationship?
9. What are Cathy’s feeling for Linton?
10. How does Nelly put a stop to their correspondence.
1. Nelly feels bad that she has had to lie to the poor boy by telling him his visit to Heathcliff is only temporary.
2. They ridicule him. Joseph says he looks more like a girl than a boy, and Heathcliff says he appears to have been “reared on snails and sour milk.”
3. Linton begs Nelly not to leave him at the Heights.
4. Whenever Hareton attempts to be friendly, Linton cries and exasperates him. Linton learns to scorn Hareton for his lack of gentility, and enjoys mocking him.
5. He wants them to marry. Aware that Linton is not expected to live long, Heathcliff can secure ownership of Cathy’s inheritance if she is Linton’s wife.
6. Heathcliff has led Cathy to believe that Edgar began the...
(The entire section is 291 words.)
Chapters 22 and 23 Questions and Answers
1. Who does Cathy say she loves more than herself?
2. How does Cathy become Heathcliff’s momentary captive audience?
3. Why does Heathcliff say Linton is dying?
4. Why does Nelly grudgingly permit Cathy to check on Linton?
5. About what do Cathy and Linton quarrel?
6. What makes Cathy feel guilty about the quarrel?
7. Why does Cathy feel compelled to return the next day?
8. Why is Edgar unaware of Cathy’s visit to Linton?
9. How long does Nelly remain ill?
10. During that time, what has Cathy been doing?
1. Cathy loves her father more than anyone, even herself.
2. Cathy is temporarily stuck behind the locked door of a stone wall on the estate grounds. While Nelly tries to smash the lock, Cathy has no choice but to hear what Heathcliff has to say.
3. Heathcliff claims that grief and disappointment in Cathy’s abandonment have made Linton deathly ill.
4. Nelly is confident that Cathy will find out that Heathcliff has been lying.
5. They call each other’s father’s liars, and Linton says Catherine hated Edgar and loved Heathcliff.
6. Angered, Cathy pushes Linton, who coughs alarmingly and calls her a “cruel, spiteful thing.” Seeing him moaning in pain, she is moved to cry from guilt.
7. Cathy feels...
(The entire section is 250 words.)
Chapter 24 Questions and Answers
1. What makes Nelly suspicious about Cathy’s behavior?
2. Who has been assisting Cathy in getting to the Heights?
3. How does Nelly react to Cathy’s lie?
4. Who helps make Cathy’s visits to Linton pleasant?
5. What different visions of heaven do Cathy and Linton have?
6. Why does Cathy call Hareton a “dunce”?
7. Of what does Nelly accuse Cathy?
8. Of whom does Linton remind Joseph, watching him pound at the door and scream?
9. What causes Cathy to forgive Linton?
10. What does Edgar consent to do for Linton?
1. Cathy makes unfounded excuses about being too tired to sit with Nelly as she convalesces, and thinking her behavior odd, Nelly goes to her room to discover it is empty.
2. Michael, the stable boy, has been assisting her, but Cathy admits she deceived him and asks that he not be reprimanded.
3. Nelly says she would rather be sick for another three months than to hear Cathy tell a lie.
4. Zillah is good-natured toward Cathy, providing refreshment and help when she visits.
5. Linton wants to lie in “an ecstasy of peace,” while Cathy wants “all to sparkle, and dance in glorious jubilee.”
6. Hareton has not yet learned his figures and has only just learned to spell his own name.
(The entire section is 269 words.)
Chapters 25 and 26 Questions and Answers
1. What surprises Nelly about the passage of time?
2. How does Nelly know Lockwood has fallen in love with Cathy?
3. Does Nelly believe that Linton will soon die?
4. What is unusual about Cathy’s seventeenth birthday?
5. How does Cathy mistake her father’s condition?
6. Of what does Linton wish to convince Edgar?
7. What shocks Cathy and Nelly when they meet Linton in the moor?
8. Why can we assume Linton insists on Cathy waiting half an hour?
9. What excuses for his poor condition does Linton ask Cathy to give her father?
10. Why can we assume Linton wants Cathy to misrepresent his condition to Edgar?
1. It has only been a year since the events in these two chapters occurred, and Nelly can hardly believe they have become material for the story she is telling a stranger.
2. Nelly believes that to see Cathy is to love her; Lockwood has also requested that her portrait be hung in his room.
3. Nelly thinks Linton’s death is several years off.
4. Edgar puts off his customary visit to Catherine’s grave.
5. Cathy believes her father’s flushed cheeks and bright eyes are a sign of his convalescence.
6. Linton wants Edgar to see that he resembles Edgar more than Heathcliff.
7. Linton is so pale and feeble...
(The entire section is 270 words.)
Chapter 27 Questions and Answers
1. Whom does Edgar believe Linton takes after?
2. Of what does Cathy accuse Linton when she comes to meet him?
3. What reason does Linton give for wanting her to stay?
4. Why is Heathcliff interested in learning how long Edgar is expected to live?
5. What directions have Heathcliff given Linton about how to behave with Cathy?
6. How does Nelly respond when Heathcliff asks her to take Linton inside?
7. How does Heathcliff induce Cathy and Nelly to enter the house?
8. What does Heathcliff say he would do to Linton and Cathy, if he lived in a less civilized country?
9. Why do the servants at the Grange search for Cathy and Nelly?
10. Who brings Nelly food while she is imprisoned?
1. Edgar incorrectly believes that Linton not only resembles him physically, but in terms of his good character, as well.
2. Cathy accuses Linton of wasting her time, which could be better spent with her father, especially since he doesn’t seem particularly pleased to see her.
3. Linton says that Heathcliff has threatened him if he cannot succeed in keeping Cathy there this time, and he is in terror of his temper.
4. Heathcliff is unsure of Linton’s life expectancy, and wants to make certain Edgar dies before him.
5. Heathcliff has told Linton not to...
(The entire section is 308 words.)
Chapters 28 and 29 Questions and Answers
1. What does Zillah believe has happened to Nelly?
2. Why does Nelly tell Linton she is shedding tears?
3. How does Linton stand to see Heathcliff strike Cathy?
4. How does Edgar plan to alter his will?
5. After the four men return without Cathy, what does Nelly resolve to do?
6. Why was the lawyer late in responding to Nelly’s summons?
7. Why does Heathcliff believe Cathy will learn to hate Linton?
8. What happened the night of Catherine’s funeral?
9. What has been killing Heathcliff slowly, over the years?
10. Why can’t Cathy bring her pony to the Heights?
1. Zillah has heard in the village that Nelly was sinking into Blackhorse Marsh, until Heathcliff saved her and brought her to the Heights.
2. Nelly is grieved that Linton is ignoring Cathy’s misery, after all of her kindness and attention to him.
3. He winks; he does so whenever Heathcliff exhibits physical cruelty.
4. Instead of leaving his money to Cathy, Edgar will put it in trust for her to use for herself or any future children.
5. Nelly resolves to return at dawn with an army of men, if need be.
6. The lawyer is now in Heathcliff’s employ, and Heathcliff had ordered him to delay his arrival until Edgar’s death.
7. Heathcliff says he...
(The entire section is 314 words.)
Chapters 30 and 31 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Zillah so unfriendly towards Cathy?
2. Who aides Cathy in nursing Linton?
3. How does Hareton react to Linton’s death?
4. Why does Zillah remain behind when Heathcliff is gone and Joseph is at church?
5. What does Hareton do while Cathy sits reading by the fire?
6. Why is Cathy forced to sit in the kitchen with Hareton and Zillah?
7. What decision does Lockwood make concerning the Grange?
8. Why can Cathy not answer Nelly’s letter?
9. How does Lockwood try to spare Hareton’s feelings?
10. How does Heathcliff react to the news of Lockwood’s departure?
1. Heathcliff has ordered her to let Cathy look after herself; furthermore, Zillah finds Cathy haughty.
2. She is told that nursing Linton is her job, so no one helps Cathy, even when she appears confused and overwhelmed.
3. Hareton is more concerned with staring at Cathy than thinking about Linton.
4. Zillah realizes that Hareton is attracted to Cathy, and feels it proper that the two young people not be left alone.
5. Hareton becomes entranced by the curl of hair brushing Cathy’s cheek, and attempts to stroke it.
6. Her bedroom is unheated. Since it is the dead of winter, Cathy finds the cold unbearable and sits in the kitchen to get warm.
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Chapters 32 and 33 Questions and Answers
1. How long has Lockwood been away from Yorkshire?
2. What is different about Hareton’s appearance?
3. About what do Nelly and Joseph argue?
4. Why did Heathcliff remove Nelly from the Grange?
5. How does Cathy tempt Hareton into accepting her book?
6. In what manner does Cathy finally win Hareton over?
7. Why does Nelly advise Cathy to be discrete about Hareton?
8. Why is Joseph angry at Hareton?
9. What does Hareton tell Cathy regarding Heathcliff?
10. What change in himself does Heathcliff sense?
1. Lockwood is returning after three months.
2. Hareton is respectably dressed and apparently very happy.
3. Joseph finds Nelly’s singing sinful; he is also bothered by Hareton’s transformation.
4. Heathcliff wants her to live in the Heights in order to keep Cathy away from his sight.
5. Cathy reads out loud in Hareton’s presence, stopping at an interesting part, and leaving the open book lying about.
6. Cathy gives Hareton a kiss, despite Nelly’s disapproving look, and then presents him with a gift-wrapped book.
7. Nelly knows the budding romance will annoy him greatly.
8. Joseph is angry that Hareton has obeyed Cathy’s wishes to dig up his currant trees and plant flowers instead....
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Chapter 34 Questions and Answers
1. What time of year does Heathcliff’s death take place?
2. What perplexes Cathy about Heathcliff’s behavior?
3. For how many days does Heathcliff bewilder everyone?
4. How does Heathcliff respond to Nelly’s asking him why he is behaving so oddly?
5. Why does Nelly decide she is being foolish to wonder if Heathcliff is a ghoul or a vampire?
6. About what do Joseph and Heathcliff converse?
7. To what does Nelly attribute Heathcliff’s unseen vision?
8. What does Heathcliff say he wishes he could do with his property?
9. What has Heathcliff died from?
10. How does Lockwood bid Nelly goodbye?
1. Heathcliff dies in April, when the weather was “warm and sweet.”
2. Although Heathcliff still tells Nelly to get out of his sight, he looks so excited and happy she hardly recognizes him.
3. Heathcliff has been behaving “queerly” for three days.
4. Heathcliff tells Nelly that the previous night he was on the “threshold of hell,” but today, he is in “sight of my heaven.”
5. Nelly has tended Heathcliff since infancy, and has known him well through most of his life.
6. Heathcliff discusses some farming business with Joseph, but speaks rapidly and continually turns his head from side to side.
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The power of Wuthering Heights owes much to its complex narrative structure and to the ingenious device of having two conventional people relate a very unconventional tale. The story is organized as a narrative within a narrative, or what some critics call "Chinese boxes." Lockwood is used to open and end the novel in the present tense, first person ("I"). When he returns to Thrushcross Grange from his visit to Wuthering Heights sick and curious, Nelly cheerfully agrees to tell him about his neighbors. She picks up the narrative and continues it, also in the first person, almost until the end, with only brief interruptions by Lockwood. The critic David Daiches notes in his introduction of Wuthering Heights the "fascinating counterpoint" of "end retrospect and present impression," and that the strength of the story relies on Nelly's familiarity with the main characters.
The novel is set in the Yorkshire moors of England, even now a bleakly beautiful, sparsely populated area of high rolling grassy hills, few trees, and scattered rocky outcroppings or patches of heather. The lowlands between the hills are marshy. The weather is changeable and, because the area is so open, sometimes wild. The exposed location of Wuthering Heights high on the moors is contrasted with the sheltered calm of Thrushcross Grange, which is nestled in a soft valley. Both seats reflect the characters of...
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Wuthering Heights has an interesting construction. There are actually two narrators — a male and a female — who filter the action of the story, which has a tendency to create distance from the main characters and at the same time to give a feeling of authenticity and "realism" to the story.
The first narrator is Mr. Lockwood, the new tenant at Thrushcross Grange. When he comes in 1801, he is naturally quite interested in the owner and the history of the place. He begins by asking questions and bit by bit learns about the people. When he becomes ill, he has enough time on his hands to quiz his housekeeper, Ellen Dean, at length about the people in the two houses.
Ellen, who is the female narrator, used to be part of the household at Wuthering Heights. Ellen readily reveals the secrets of the occupants of the houses and tells the intertwined history and stories of the Linton, Earnshaw, and Heathcliff families.
Having two narrators allows the author to play with time. Bronte can begin the dramatic story in "real time" (i.e. the present) and then go back in time to a place where the main characters were young. She skillfully compresses and expands time almost like an accordion to create dramatic tension. The story progresses in a linear fashion, broken by a break in the action when Mr. Lockwood goes up to London. Upon his return he learns the story of Heathcliff's death, and Hareton and Cathy's possession of Wuthering...
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Ideas for Group Discussions
Wuthering Heights is a book that can be approached from several discussion avenues. A brief introduction to Bronte's life will orient the group to the times and sensibilities of the era which informs the story. The film versions apply their own interpretations to the love story, and comparing one of the films to the novel will generate opinions about the meaning of the story. Placing the story in its own time period (called "contextualizing") and looking at nineteenth-century life, such as the lives and roles of different classes and gender, will reflect on Bronte's themes and social concerns. The "reader response approach," in which each group member discusses what the book meant to him/her, will illustrate how people respond to different aspects of the story.
1. In what ways is Wuthering Heights part of the tradition of Gothic stories?
2. How would you describe Heathcliff? What do you really know about his background? What can you make up about him?
3. Is Heathcliff the illegitimate son of Earnshaw?
4. Why does Bronte use the ghost stories to open and conclude her novel?
5. What evidence of class struggle can you point to in Wuthering Heights?
6. If Cathy and Heathcliff would have married, how would you describe their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary? What would they be like?
7. Why did Heathcliff want revenge so desperately?
8. Why did Cathy wait...
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Even though Emily Bronte had limited experience with people outside her home, she was interested in the human psyche. In Wuthering Heights she explores the minds of individual persons. Each of her characters is a real human being with hopes, fears, aspirations and desires. She also explores the relations of males and females from different classes. It is almost an ethnographic study of the various relationships. Bronte does not really make any comment on the morality of Heathcliff, Catherine or Edgar or the other characters. She simply allows them to act out their lives. She shows them with all their faults.
In some respects, Bronte is also showing her readers the effects of too much passion. Heathcliff's passion for Cathy is almost too much. He is like Hamlet in his desire for revenge against the woman and man who he feels have wronged him. It is his inability to accept the fact that Cathy married Edgar that sets the rest of the events into play. He causes the ultimate destruction of both "houses" and leaves his offspring to "redeem" or "save" the two families.
Throughout the novel, Bronte portrays Heathcliff as a rustic who in some ways is unfettered by social conventions and whose vitality and nonconformity is attractive and initially appealing. Eventually his overly emotional response to Cathy causes the fall of everyone, even Cathy.
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Compare and Contrast
Late 1700s: World economies are predominately agrarian.
1847: England is in the midst of an Industrial Revolution whose effects will be felt worldwide. Workers flock to cities from the countryside.
Today: World economies are increasingly linked in a “global community.” Intercultural communication and cultural diversity in the so-called service economy are a direct result of advances in transportation and communications.
Late 1700s: Life expectancy is short, owing to harsh living and working conditions. Death in childbirth is common.
1847: Medical advances and improved public health and sanitation decrease maternal and infant mortality.
Today: Though high-technology medicine offers solutions to many medical problems, heart disease and cancer remain major killers, there is no cure for AIDS, and many countries grapple with increasing costs of health care for aging populations.
Late 1700s: Inheritance in England passes from the father to the first-born male. A procedure called “strict settlement” must be invoked to bypass inheritance laws.
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Topics for Further Study
- What achievements of modern medicine have reduced the high rates of maternal deaths in childbirth that were commonplace during the period of the novel? How have social factors compromised advances in the treatment of tuberculosis?
- What were the milestones in women's rights that have reduced the vulnerability of women like the second Catherine Linton to loss of property?
- Explore how people grieve their dead in various cultures around the world, and how these customs compare with Edgar's request in Wuthering Heights that Nelly "get mourning" for the second Catherine after Isabella's death.
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Although Wuthering Heights is Bronte's one published novel, it is entirely possible that it is not her only novel. Evidence shows that she and her sister Anne spent years writing a Gondal epic/novel. Unfortunately none of this work survives or has as yet been found. Only the poetry survives.
Wuthering Heights may be read as part of a whole body of Gothic novels. It has the supernatural elements, the dark setting, the star-crossed lovers that one can find in Hugh Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1765) and later in The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) by Anne Radcliffe. As critic Lyn Pykett says, it also combines the romantic elements of Waldworth's Lyrical Ballads with the realism of Sir Walter Scott's novels. There are also many other novels which deal with different aspects which were explored by Emily Bronte. The nonconventional views of religion coupled with the passion love and psychological study of the characters can be found in D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers (1913).
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The novels by Charlotte Bronte that are set in the same locale are fascinating to read in relation to Wuthering Heights. Her Jane Eyre (1846) explores love between different classes of people. Mr. Rochester plays at being a dark gypsy but Charlotte's concept of love is more conventional. Jane will not marry someone she does not love although she does contemplate it. She eventually marries her Mr. Rochester who has been punished (cleansed?) by his injuries from the fire, for his loving her and wanting her so much that he would commit bigamy. These novels by the sisters are not companion pieces but they do offer insight.
It is also interesting to note that there are novels which feature the Bronte's as characters. In Rachel Ferguson's The Brontes Went to Woolworths (1932), Lady Toddington, one of the slightly mad characters, casually remarks that when she saw the Brontes in Woolworth's, Emily was having one of her difficult fits in haberdashery. A fictionalized account of the life of the Brontes has been depicted in Lynne Reid Bank's Dark Quartet (1978). The adventures of the toy soldiers which belonged to the Brontes is the basis of the juvenile story The Return of the Twelves (1980) by Pauline Clarke.
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Since it was first filmed in Great Britain in 1920, Wuthering Heights has been a popular basis for films. There have been numerous adaptations of the love story of Cathy and Heathcliff. Many critics agree that the English version directed by William Wyler (United Artists, 1939), which starred Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff, Merle Oberon as Cathy, with supporting performances by Flora Robson and David Niven, is the best version. This highly dramatic black-and-white version emphasized the dark, brooding moors and accentuated the passion of the star-crossed lovers. Another popular English version (American International, 1971) was directed by Robert Fuest and starred Timothy Dalton, Anna Calder-Marshall, Harry Andrews and Hugh Griffith, and focused more on Cathy's smoldering, much-abused and vengeful love. Abismos de Passion (Mexico, 1953) is a Spanish-language version which was directed by Luis Bunuel and starred Iraseme Dillan and Jorge Mistral, with music by Richard Wagner.
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- Wuthering Heights continues to inspire filmmakers: adaptations include those by William Wyler, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, 1939, available from HBO Home Video and Home Vision Cinema; by Robert Fuest, starring Timothy Dalton and Anna Calder-Marshall, 1970, available from Congress Entertainment, Karol Video, The Video Catalog; a reworking under the title "Abismos de pasion," by Luis Bunuel, starring Jorge Mistral and Irasema Dilian, 1953, available from Xenon, Media Home Entertainment, Applause Productions; and by Peter Kosminsky, starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, 1992 (not released in the U.S., but later broadcast on Turner Network Television).
- Sound recordings have been published by Listen for Pleasure, 1981; Recorded Books, 1981, and Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio, 1995. The novel was read by Michael Page and Laurel Merlington for an audio version, Brilliance Corporation, 1992, entitled Wuthering Heights Readalong, Lake Publishing Co., 1994.
- The novel has been adapted as a four-act opera by Bernard Herrman, libretto by Lucille Fletcher, 1950. An adaptation by Carlisle Floyd, who also wrote the libretto, in three acts was first performed in 1958. The novel was also adapted for the stage by Charles Vance and published by Samuel French, 1990.
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What Do I Read Next?
- The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë (1910) is a collection of Brontë's metaphysical poetry.
- The memorable heroine of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847) finds love with her moody employer, Mr. Rochester, but manages not to give up her independence.
- George Eliot's Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (1871-72) is a portrait of life in a small rural town. George Eliot was the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans.
- Frankenstein (1818) is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's gothic tale of destructive pride. Dr. Victor Frankenstein makes a living monster out of inanimate matter and is ultimately destroyed by his creation.
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Davies, Stevie. Emily Brontë: The Artist as a Free Woman. Manchester, England: Carcanet Press, 1983. Discusses not only the novel but also Brontë’s personal life and tragedies, the fantasy worlds created by her and her siblings, and her poetry. Provides an incisive look at the novel’s structure and an in-depth study of the personalities and motivations of the main characters.
Everitt, Alastair, ed. Wuthering Heights: An Anthology of Criticism. London: Frank Cass, 1967. A collection of introductory critical explorations of the novel that examine such fundamental issues as structure, narrative strategies, origins, the supernatural, madness, and sadomasochism.
Kavanaugh, James H. Emily Brontë. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985. Offers a late twentieth century critical interpretation of the novel, including a deconstructionist reading. Useful also for its survey of critical approaches to this novel.
Miles, Peter. Wuthering Heights. Basingstoke, England: Macmillan, 1990. Provides various readings of Brontë’s novel as well as an introduction that traces the history of the most popular interpretations of and reactions to the book. Includes a helpful bibliography, mostly covering the more traditional approaches.
Vogler, Thomas A., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of...
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Allen, Walter. The English Novel. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1955.
Benvenuto, Richard. Emily Brontë. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982.
Brontë, Charlotte. “Editor’s Preface to the New  Edition of Wuthering Heights.” In Wuthering Heights, edited by David Daiches. Penguin, 1965, pp. 37-41.
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. New York, NY: Modern Library, 1950.
Crailic, W. A. The Brontë Novels. London: Methuen, 1968.
Daiches, David, ed. In the introduction to Wuthering Heights. Penguin, 1965, pp. 7-29.
“Emily Brontë.” In Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism, edited by Cherie Abbey and Janet Mullane, vol. 16. Detroit: Gale Research, 1987.
Evans, Barbara, and Gareth Lloyd Evans. The Scribner Companion to the Brontës. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1982.
Gerin, Winifred. “Emily Brontë.” In Reference Guide to English Literature, edited by D. L. Kirkpatrick. St. James Press, 1991, pp. 300-02.
Glen, Heather, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Brontës. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Kanwar, Asha. Fictional Theories and the Three Great Novels. New Delhi: Prestige Books, 1991.
Karl, Frederick R. An Age of Fiction: The Nineteenth Century British Novel. New York:...
(The entire section is 489 words.)