The first three chapters of the novel are narrated by Mr. Lockwood as a recollection from his diary several years after the events took place in 1801. Lockwood, a native of London, rents Thrushcross Grange, in the desolate Yorkshire moors, in order to enjoy some solitude. On a visit to his landlord Heathcliff’s residence, Wuthering Heights, he encounters some unusually unhappy people: Cathy, Heathcliff’s daughter-in-law, whom Lockwood at first mistakes for his wife; Hareton Earnshaw, an ill-bred young man whose social status leaves Lockwood confused; Joseph, the snarling, rude servant; and Zillah, the only helpful person there. Most forbidding is Heathcliff himself, a man whom Lockwood describes as even more unsociable than he.
Due to a raging snowstorm on his subsequent visit, Lockwood is forced to spend the night. While sleeping, he dreams of a ghostly child, identifying herself as Catherine Linton, grabbing at his arm and trying to get in through a broken window pane. Heathcliff is devastated to hear the dream and orders Lockwood downstairs so he can beg for the spirit to reappear.
Relieved to get away from this unhappy, strange house, Lockwood returns to the Grange. His housekeeper, Nelly, takes over from him as the narrator, due to his prodding about the inhabitants of the Heights. Her narrative returns to her childhood, some thirty years earlier, when she was a servant at the Heights. She was working for the Earnshaw family, and growing up with their two children, Hindley and Catherine, a beautiful, but wild spirited girl.
One day, Mr. Earnshaw had returned from a trip to Liverpool with a swarthy street orphan, who he intended to raise with his own children, against the wishes of his family. The boy is named Heathcliff, after a son who had died in infancy. Catherine and Heathcliff soon become close friends, but Hindley views Heathcliff as a rival for his father’s affections. Indeed, Mr. Earnshaw does prefer Heathcliff to his own son, whom he views as a disappointment. Hindley’s treatment of Heathcliff causes sufficient household friction that Hindley is sent away to college. Soon after, Mr. Earnshaw dies.
Hindley returns home for the funeral with a wife, Frances, upon whom he dotes. Redoubling his hatred for Heathcliff, Hindley relegates him to servile status, causing Catherine much unhappiness. She and Heathcliff are frequently punished, but escape to play on the moors.
During one such escape, the two venture to Thrushcross Grange, home of the Linton family and their children, Edgar and Isabella. Catherine, attacked by one of the dogs, is affectionately cared for, while Heathcliff is turned away for appearing to be a villain. When Catherine returns home after a five-week convalescence, she has become a well-mannered young lady. Taking pleasure in humiliating Heathcliff, Hindley tells him to come greet Catherine as if he were one of the servants. Later, when Edgar and Isabella come to visit, Hindley treats Heathcliff with particular humiliation. Heathcliff swears revenge on Hindley, even if it takes a lifetime.
Frances dies giving birth to a son, Hareton. Anguished, Hindley soon becomes lost in alcoholic madness. Meanwhile, Catherine tells Nelly that she will marry Edgar because Heathcliff is socially beneath her. Overhearing, Heathcliff runs away before Catherine admits how profoundly she loves him.
Three years later, Edgar and Catherine marry. Heathcliff returns, moving in with Hindley in order to gain his revenge by inducing him to gamble away all his money. A frequent visitor to the Lintons, Edgar soon becomes jealous of his wife’s attachment to Heathcliff, and orders him to leave. Heathcliff gets his revenge on Edgar by eloping with Edgar’s sister, Isabella. Although he despises her, Heathcliff marries Isabella in order to inherit her money. Catherine becomes dangerously ill, and dies after giving birth to a daughter, Cathy.
Treated contemptibly by Heathcliff, Isabella runs away to the South, where she gives birth to a sickly son, Linton. Upon her death, Edgar tries to keep Linton, but Heathcliff demands custody. Raising his daughter to avoid Wuthering Heights and its inhabitants, Cathy forgets about Linton until she sees him by accident some years later.
Heathcliff’s revenge against the Earnshaw and Linton families includes garnering all their property for himself. He already possesses the Earnshaw estate, leaving Hareton an illiterate farmworker, completely dependent on Heathcliff. Heathcliff plans to do the same to Cathy, by forcing her to marry Linton, who cannot live past his teens, and therefore control all her inheritance as well.
It is now 1802, and Nelly has brought Lockwood up to date with her history. The story continues. Heathcliff succeeds in accomplishing his plans. Edgar and Linton are dead, and Cathy is as penniless and dependent as Hareton. When the two cousins fall in love, Heathcliff realizes he is no longer interested in destroying anything. He becomes obsessed with a vision of his beloved Catherine’s spirit hovering nearby, waiting for him to join her. Within three days of his vision, Heathcliff dies and is buried according to his wishes, alongside Catherine. Local legend claims that their spirits haunt the moors.
Hareton and Cathy plan to marry on New Year’s Day, moving back to Thrushcross Grange, and taking Nelly with them. Lockwood returns to London.
The Victorian Age was a time of great economic, social, and political change. The British Empire had reached its height and extended throughout one quarter of the world. The beginning of the Industrial Revolution it was a time of great prosperity for some, but abject poverty for factory and farm workers. Many Victorian writers dealt with the contrast between the prosperity of the middle and upper classes and the wretched condition of the poor. Indeed, class distinctions will appear as an important subtext in Wuthering Heights.
Like her fellow Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy, Brontë’s setting is limited to the Yorkshire moors of northern England, a rural, isolated region. Rural life was governed by a strict societal hierarchy which Brontë accurately depicted in Wuthering Heights. At the top were the Lords, the aristocracy, with its hereditary or monarch granted titles, large estates, political dominance and patronage system. Next came the gentry class, non-titled nobility landowners, who constituted local leadership. The Linton family in Wuthering Heights is typical of this class. Next were the gentlemen farmers, many of whom were prosperous enough to maintain a lifestyle like that of the gentry. Mr. Earnshaw, father of Hindley and Cathy, is a representative gentleman farmer. Indeed, the distinction between the two classes appears in the novel, when Catherine refers to herself and Heathcliff as being of “the lower orders” (Pool 160-166).
Wuthering Heights is unlike any other novel in the genre of Victorian literature in that it stands outside the social conventions of its time. Victorian literature characteristically viewed the individual as a member of society. In Wuthering Heights, Brontë for the first time portrayed society from a completely individual point of view.
While many of the great Victorian novelists of the early to middle period, such as Dickens, Thackeray, and Eliot, dealt more explicitly with moral preoccupations and social concerns than Brontë did, Wuthering Heights was unique for containing more of the primitive and spiritual side of the human spirit, feelings which, according to Derek Traversi, were “otherwise unduly concealed in this period.”
Wuthering Heights, furthermore, with its mysterious, isolated mansions located in the wind-swept, brooding Yorkshire moors, is replete with overtones of Gothic horror. There is the suggestion of ghosts revisiting the living, supernatural allusions, and above all, a protagonist who symbolizes the dark side of mankind. These Gothic characteristics are more typical of the Romantic period of literature than the Victorian.
In fact, one could safely say that Brontë manages to anticipate the twentieth century novel. With its ambivalent morality, violence, and emphasis on the evil side of human nature, Wuthering Heights has much in common with modern novels, such as The Sound and the Fury. Indeed, Hindley Earnshaw’s profligate behavior is reminiscent of Jason Compson’s, as are the vicious intra-family feuds, and frustrated sexual urges.
Perhaps this is why the novel met with unfavorable critical reaction when it was first published. The general sentiment among critics was that the characters and their situations were too “disagreeable and coarse to be attractive.” Charlotte Brontë was among the novel’s chief admirers, although even she was forced to acknowledge how strange and wild Wuthering Heights must seem to those unacquainted with Yorkshire. More recently, writers such as Charles Percy Sanger and Virginia Woolf have described it as a novel of genius for the manner in which Brontë contrasts the civilized, genteel side of human nature with its wild, untamed counterpart. Scribner’s Companion and Richard Benvenuto have also been impressed with Brontë’s accuracy and consistency in detail. The characters age in accordance with correct sequence and behave in an age-appropriate manner. Brontë’s depiction of the Yorkshire moors is accurate, as is her ear for the local dialect. Furthermore, she exhibits considerable knowledge of English inheritance laws in her handling of the characters’ legal matters.
However much Brontë was disparaged by her contemporaries, twentieth-century critics rank her among the elite of Victorian writers for the genius she exhibits in Wuthering Heights. Ironically, her sister Charlotte, who received acclaim by those who objected to Emily, is now considered the less gifted writer.
List of Characters
Heathcliff—The protagonist of the novel; an orphan raised at Wuthering Heights by Mr. Earnshaw, he soon dominates the fates of the Earnshaw and Linton families; a person of extremes, he is capable of passionate love for Catherine Earnshaw despite devoting his life to cruelty and revenge for his enemies.
Catherine Earnshaw—Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw, sister of Hindley, wife of Edgar Linton, mother of Cathy; a wild, tempestuous girl, she fails to thrive in the ordered and conventional world of the Lintons. She is the only person whom Heathcliff loves.
Mr. Earnshaw—The master of Wuthering Heights and father of Hindley and Catherine. He notices an orphan in a Liverpool slum and, naming him Heathcliff after a son who died in infancy, brings him to Yorkshire to be raised with his own children.
Mrs. Earnshaw—A minor character, she objects to her husband bringing Heathcliff into their home.
Hareton Earnshaw—An unkempt young man, Lockwood at first mistakes him for Heathcliff’s son, but notes that he is treated like a servant.
Hindley Earnshaw—A disappointment to his father, Hindley is jealous of his father’s affection for Heathcliff, fostering a lifelong hatred between the two; husband of Frances and father of Hareton.
Frances Earnshaw—The wife whom Hindley meets at college; she dies soon after giving birth to their son, Hareton.
Mr. and Mrs. Linton—Master and mistress, respectively, of the elegant Thrushcross Grange, parents of Edgar and Isabella; they invite Catherine to convalesce in their home, only to become ill themselves and die.
Edgar Linton—Master of Thrushcross Grange upon the death of his parents, he is, as a child, somewhat weak and spoiled. As he reaches adulthood, he becomes a respected member of society; a kind, gentle man, he dotes on his sister, Isabella and adores his wife, Catherine, and daughter, Cathy.
Isabella Linton—Sister of Edgar and mother of Linton Heathcliff, she is a foolish and overindulged girl. Her silly romantic nature leads her to fall in love with Heathcliff despite his obvious unsuitability.
Catherine Linton Heathcliff (Cathy)—Daughter of Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton, she is gentle, like her father and headstrong, like her mother. She marries her cousin, Linton Heathcliff.
Linton Heathcliff—Son of Heathcliff and Isabella Linton, a sickly and effeminate young man; whining and self-pitying like his mother, with his father’s bad temper.
Mr. Lockwood—Narrator of the novel and Heathcliff’s tenant at Thrushcross Grange, his function is actually to allow Ellen Dean to narrate most of the past action to him while he convalesces from an illness.
Ellen Dean (Nelly)—Works for the Earnshaws as a young girl; she grows up with their children, serving Catherine and later Heathcliff. It is she who narrates most of the story to Lockwood. Since all the characters confide in her, she is the only character who is aware of all that goes on.
Joseph—An elderly servant at Wuthering Heights, he is self-righteous and pious; he speaks in a Yorkshire dialect that is sometimes difficult to follow.
Zillah—The housekeeper at Wuthering Heights while Nelly is at Thrushcross Grange caring for Lockwood.
Mr. Kenneth—The local doctor.
Mr. Green—A lawyer.
Estimated Reading Time
This is a lengthy book. Unless the reader is accustomed to the style of a Victorian novel, he or she may have difficulty understanding the language. Furthermore, Brontë occasionally has her characters speak in phonetic Yorkshire dialect. Therefore, an inexperienced reader will have to read slowly and carefully. The entire book can be read over a period of forty hours, less if the reader has some familiarity with nineteenth century literature.
Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
First published in 1847, Wuthering Heights is an enduring gothic romance filled with intrigue and terror. It is set in the northern England countryside, where the weather fluctuates in sudden extremes and where bogs can open underfoot of unsuspecting night venturers. Under this atmospheric dome of brooding unpredictability, Brontë explores the violent and unpredictable elements of human passion. The story revolves around the tempestuous romance between Heathcliff, an orphan who is taken home to Wuthering Heights on impulse, and Catherine Earnshaw, a strong-willed girl whose mother died delivering her and who becomes Heathcliff’s close companion.
The setting is central to the novel. Both action and characters can be understood in terms of two households. Wuthering Heights, overtaken by the sinister usurper, Heathcliff, becomes a dark, winter world of precipitous acts that lead to brutality, vengeance, and social alienation. What Wuthering Heights lacks in history, education, and gregariousness is supplied by the more springlike Thrushcross Grange, where the fair-haired Lintons live in the human world of reason, order, and gentleness. Unfortunately, these less passionate mortals are subject to the indifferent forces of nature, dying in childbirth and of consumption too easily. They are subject to Heathcliff’s wrath as well, losing all assets and independence to him.
Brontë uses the element of unpredictability to spur the action in...
(The entire section is 515 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In 1801, Mr. Lockwood becomes a tenant at Thrushcross Grange, an old farm owned by a Mr. Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights. In the early days of his tenancy, he makes two calls on his landlord. On his first visit, he meets Heathcliff, an abrupt, unsocial man who is surrounded by a pack of snarling, barking dogs. When he goes to Wuthering Heights a second time, he meets the other members of the strange household: a rude, unkempt but handsome young man named Hareton Earnshaw and a pretty young woman who is the widow of Heathcliff’s son.
During his visit, snow begins to fall. It covers the moor paths and makes travel impossible for a stranger in that bleak countryside. Heathcliff refuses to let one of the servants go with him as a guide but says that if he stays the night he can share Hareton’s bed or that of Joseph, a sour, canting old servant. When Mr. Lockwood tries to borrow Joseph’s lantern for the homeward journey, the old fellow sets the dogs on him, to the amusement of Hareton and Heathcliff. The visitor is finally rescued by Zillah, the cook, who hides him in an unused chamber of the house.
That night, Mr. Lockwood has a strange dream. Thinking that a branch is rattling against the window, he breaks the glass in his attempt to unhook the casement. As he reaches out to break off the fir branch outside, his fingers close on a small ice-cold hand, and a weeping voice begs to be let in. The unseen presence says that her name is Catherine...
(The entire section is 1356 words.)
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Set on the Yorkshire moors of England, Wuthering Heights opens with the comments of Mr. Lockwood, the newly arrived tenant of Thrushcross Grange. He tells of his visit to Wuthering Heights, where he encounters his landlord and neighbor, Mr. Heathcliff; Joseph, Heathcliff’s pious and surly old servant; Hareton Earnshaw, an ignorant and impoverished young man; and the beautiful Catherine Heathcliff, widow of Heathcliff’s dead son. Rough weather forces Lockwood to spend the night. He finds several old books, the margins of which had been used as a childhood diary by Catherine Earnshaw, mother to the current Catherine. Perusing these pages, Lockwood learns about the childhood adventures of Heathcliff and the first Catherine, and of their oppression by Catherine’s brother, Hindley. Lockwood falls into a restless sleep, punctuated by nightmares in which the first Catherine Earnshaw comes to the bedroom window and begs to be let in. He awakes screaming, and in so doing he wakes Heathcliff, who opens the window and begs Catherine to come again. At sunrise Heathcliff escorts Lockwood back to Thrushcross Grange.
The next day, Lockwood, finding himself sick, persuades the servant, Nelly Dean, to sit and talk with him. She relates how she grew up at Wuthering Heights, and she tells how one night Mr. Earnshaw brought home the mysterious boy, Heathcliff, whom he had found starving in Liverpool. Mr. Earnshaw favors...
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Summary and Analysis
Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Lockwood: the first-person narrator of the story; tenant of Heathcliff
Heathcliff: the protagonist of the novel; a fascinating, yet surly and unpleasant man
Joseph: an elderly servant of Heathcliff who speaks with a thick Yorkshire dialect
Zillah: the housekeeper; the young woman’s name is not disclosed until later in the book
The story begins in 1801, as Lockwood, a new tenant in Thrushcross Grange, narrates the story of his visit to his new landlord, Heathcliff. Although Lockwood, a native of London, describes himself as a reserved man in search of a quiet place to live, he is surprised to learn that the beautiful, yet ruggedly isolated Yorkshire moors are inhabited by someone even more antisocial than he; Heathcliff is clearly reluctant to allow Lockwood inside his gate. When Heathcliff finally allows him in, Lockwood meets the servant Joseph, who is equally inhospitable.
We learn that Heathcliff’s home is named Wuthering Heights. Wuthering is Yorkshire dialect for stormy weather. Indeed, there is a powerful north wind which blows continually over the place and has permanently bent the surrounding trees.
Walking through the house, Lockwood offers a detailed description of the entryway, the kitchen, and parlor. Yet Lockwood is most intrigued by the contrast between the furnishings and the man who lives there. While the...
(The entire section is 616 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
Catherine Linton Heathcliff (Cathy): after Lockwood mistakes her for Heathcliff’s wife, he learns that she is his dead son’s widow
Hareton Earnshaw: an unkempt young man, Lockwood at first mistakes him for Heathcliff’s son, but notes that he is treated like a servant
Due to bad weather, Lockwood thinks he might stay home rather than return to Wuthering Heights. However, one of the servants has begun making a mess cleaning out the fireplace, so Lockwood hastily departs for the four mile walk to the Heights, just as snow begins to fall.
Chilled by the freezing wind, Lockwood finds the door barred and curses Heathcliff’s “churlish inhospitality.” Nevertheless, he pounds on the door until Joseph overhears him from the barn and tells him no one is home but “the missus,” and she won’t open the door for anyone. As the snow begins to fall heavily, a young man signals Lockwood to follow him, leading him into the kitchen. There he sees a beautiful, slender young woman with long golden hair and a desperate look of unhappiness. She eyes Lockwood with scorn, refusing to invite him to be seated, and mocking him for mistaking a pile of dead rabbits for her pet lap dogs. Lockwood is rebuffed both in his attempt to help her get an out-of-reach object in the kitchen and in his request to be asked to stay for tea. The young man responds to his efforts with a glare...
(The entire section is 976 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
Zillah leads Lockwood upstairs, cautioning him to keep quiet because Heathcliff doesn’t allow anyone to use the room she is taking him to. Lacking a bed, Lockwood curls up in a hidden closet by a window, where he discovers a pile of books bearing the names Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, and Catherine Linton.
Falling asleep for a few minutes, Lockwood awakens to the smell of his candle scorching the cover of a diary, inscribed with Catherine Earnshaw’s name and dated twenty-five years ago. He reads what Catherine has written with increasing interest.
Catherine complains about her brother Hindley, who has become a tyrant since becoming master of the Heights after their father’s death. While Hindley and his wife Frances cuddle in the warm parlor, Joseph forces Catherine and Heathcliff, shivering in the garret, to endure a three-hour sermon on religious texts. Catherine, followed by Heathcliff, finally rebels. In a fury, Joseph sends for Hindley, who scolds them, calling Heathcliff a vagabond, and threatens to evict him if he continues to act like a family member or play with Catherine again. Bringing Catherine to tears, Hindley blames their late father for having spoiled Heathcliff, and vows to “reduce him to his right place.”
Overwhelming exhaustion prevents Lockwood from continuing to read Catherine’s diary. He drifts into a dream in which Joseph accuses him of an unnamed crime...
(The entire section is 700 words.)
Chapters 4 and 5 Summary and Analysis
Ellen Dean (Nelly): Lockwood’s housekeeper, who has known all the characters for most of their lives
Bored and in low spirits from being alone in his room, and recuperating from the frightful events at the Heights, Lockwood asks Nelly Dean to sit with him while he dines. Having developed a genuine curiosity about the residents at Wuthering Heights, he hopes she can offer some insights about them. As he had hoped, Nelly is an accurate historian; she provides him with several significant pieces of information. We learn that Heathcliff is quite wealthy, but tight-fisted; rather than enjoy the comforts of the Grange, he rents it out and lives in the relative decay of the Heights. Furthermore, Nelly tells Lockwood that Cathy is the daughter of Catherine and Edgar Linton, and that Hareton is Hindley’s son, and thus Cathy’s first cousin. Nelly’s most important revelation is that she knows all about Heathcliff’s past, except for where he was born, who his parents were, and how he first acquired his money. We also learn that Heathcliff has somehow cheated Hareton of his inheritance. The novel continues at this point with Nelly as its narrator.
Nelly tells of Heathcliff’s introduction to Wuthering Heights many years ago when they were children. Mr. Earnshaw left for Liverpool after promising to bring Hindley and Catherine gifts upon his return. Three days later he returned...
(The entire section is 841 words.)
Chapters 6 and 7 Summary and Analysis
Frances Earnshaw: Hindley’s wife, who he introduces to the family at his father’s funeral
Mr. and Mrs. Linton: neighbors at Thrushcross Grange, the adjoining estate
Edgar Linton: their son, a handsome, yet babyish mama’s boy
Isabella Linton: their daughter, a spoiled and foolish girl
Hindley arrives home for his father’s funeral with his wife Frances, a silly, pretty girl with no apparent family connections. Hindley is reminded of his loathing for Heathcliff, and drives him from the family into the servants’ quarters. Smitten with his wife, Hindley neglects Catherine’s upbringing until Nelly fears she will grow up a savage. Under pressure from Joseph and the curate, Hindley allows Catherine and Heathcliff to be disciplined with church attendance and frequent punishments. They react to these measures by escaping to the moors where they can play. Under these conditions, Catherine and Heathcliff grow increasingly close and emotionally dependent upon each other.
On one such escapade, they venture to the Linton home, Thrushcross Grange. Spying on the family through the window, Catherine is attacked on the ankle by their dog. When she is carried inside, young Edgar Linton recognizes her as a Sunday school classmate, but Heathcliff is called a villain, deemed “quite unfit for a decent house,” due to his cursing and his swarthy...
(The entire section is 892 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Kenneth: the local doctor
It is now 1778. Nelly’s work in the hayfield is interrupted by the news that Frances has just given birth to Hareton, although the doctor believes that Frances’ chronic tuberculosis (foreshadowed by Nelly’s mention of her coughing in Chapter Six) will shortly kill her. Rushing back to the house so she can begin to care for the infant, Nelly finds both Hindley and Frances in desperate denial of Frances’ condition. Despite her brave efforts, Frances soon dies, leaving Hindley disconsolate.
Sinking into depression and alcoholism, Hindley takes no interest in Hareton, other than to object when his cries disturb him. While Hindley’s dissipation worsens, and his treatment of Heathcliff grows even crueler, Heathcliff takes a perverse pleasure in watching Hindley deteriorate. In fact, the entire household completely falls apart. All the servants, except for Nelly and Joseph, leave; and no one, not even the curate, will visit. Catherine, however, has remained friendly with the Lintons and continues to visit them. She begins to “adopt a double character”, remaining unruly and wild at home, but at the Lintons’ home, she is a model young lady. At fifteen, she is the most beautiful girl in the countryside, and Edgar is smitten with her. Edgar prefers her to visit at the Grange, rather than come to the Heights; Hindley’s profligate reputation...
(The entire section is 732 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis
Little Hareton, terrified of his father’s rages, allows Nelly to hide him when Hindley makes his drunken entrance. Claiming to have already murdered Mr. Kenneth, Hindley threatens to kill Nelly as well. Clearly accustomed to dealing with Hindley’s behavior, Nelly calmly eludes his knife. Hindley, however, grabs Hareton, and when he cannot calm the trembling child, he becomes enraged and dangles him, feet first, over the stair rail. Startled by Heathcliff’s entrance, Hindley loses his grip and drops the baby. Without realizing what he is doing, Heathcliff holds out his arms and catches Hareton, saving him from death. Nelly notes the look of disappointment on Heathcliff’s face; his unwitting heroism cost him the chance to get revenge on Hindley.
As Nelly rocks poor Hareton to sleep, Catherine enters to confide to her that Edgar has asked her to marry him. Before she will divulge her answer, she wants Nelly’s opinion. Appalled with Catherine’s earlier behavior, Nelly says Edgar is a fool to have asked her. Petulantly, Catherine admits that she accepted his proposal. Aware that Catherine’s feelings for Edgar lack sincerity, Nelly states her opinion: Catherine “loves” Edgar because he is handsome, rich, and adores her; what further problem can there be? With uncharacteristic candor, Catherine admits that her heart and soul tell her she is doing wrong.
In truth, she concedes, she loves Heathcliff....
(The entire section is 736 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary and Analysis
Lockwood has been recuperating for four weeks, and Mr. Kenneth does not anticipate him being allowed outdoors until spring. Heathcliff has been to visit; so grateful is Lockwood for the diversion he decides not to mention Heathcliff’s role in causing his illness.
The visit reminds Lockwood that Nelly still owes him the next installment of Heathcliff’s story. He begs her to fill him in on how Heathcliff became educated and wealthy enough to have become a gentleman. Nelly cannot answer these questions, and asks to be permitted to continue the story in her own fashion.
Catherine is fond of Edgar and his sister, and since they extend themselves to please her, the marriage seems successful. One day, Heathcliff appears at the Grange after a three-year absence, eager to see Catherine. Edgar is displeased to see the genuine joy with which Catherine greets Heathcliff, but she admonishes him to be friendly for her sake. Edgar is polite, but makes it clear to Heathcliff that he is welcomed as a childhood servant, nothing more. Amused by Edgar’s strict adherence to conventional behavior, and truly overwhelmed with her delight in seeing Heathcliff again, Catherine quarrels with Edgar once Heathcliff departs (to Nelly’s astonishment) for Wuthering Heights.
Complaining to Nelly that Edgar and Isabella are spoiled children, Catherine rebuffs her response that it is she who is the spoiled child: their peaceful...
(The entire section is 662 words.)
Chapters 11 and 12 Summary and Analysis
While dwelling on Hindley’s deterioration, Nelly comes across a stone on the highway which had been a favorite spot of theirs as children. There she sees a vision which convinces her of Hindley’s impending death. Rushing to the Heights, she encounters Hareton. She is horrified to discover what has become of the little boy she once nursed. Heathcliff has taken him under his wing; he no longer studies with the curate, but has learned how to curse and hit. Nelly asks him to send for Hindley so she can speak with him. However when Heathcliff appears instead, she turns and runs.
When Heathcliff next visits at the Grange, Nelly observes him trying to kiss Isabella and reports this to Catherine, who quarrels with Heathcliff. Accused by him of jealousy, Catherine retorts that if Heathcliff sincerely likes Isabella, she will do everything she can to help him. Heathcliff assures her that if he wants to marry Isabella, he needs neither her help nor Edgar’s consent.
Nelly hastens to inform Edgar of Catherine and Heathcliff’s quarrel. Incensed at Heathcliff’s presumptions, Edgar confronts him and orders him to leave. Clearly frightened of Heathcliff, Edgar endures Catherine’s taunts about his cowardice until he finally strikes Heathcliff on the throat, stunning him. Heathcliff is maddened by Edgar’s burst of courage and threatens to kill him. However, Edgar has gone for assistance, and Heathcliff escapes....
(The entire section is 781 words.)
Chapters 13 and 14 Summary and Analysis
Under Edgar’s devoted care, Catherine slowly recovers her health, but remains weak and depressed. To Edgar’s delight, Catherine is pregnant, and he is certain the baby will be a boy, thus eliminating Heathcliff’s claim to the Linton fortune. Six weeks after Isabella’s departure, she sends Edgar a letter which he ignores. The remainder of Chapter 13 is narrated by Isabella in the form of a subsequent letter to Nelly.
Isabella and Heathcliff have moved into the Heights. In her letter, Isabella expresses her horror at each of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights, especially Heathcliff. She begs Nelly to let her know if Heathcliff “is a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?” Describing her arrival, Isabella complains that Heathcliff had deserted her in the kitchen, where Hareton curses her for trying to kiss him, and Joseph disgusts her by using his hand to stir their dinner. Hindley is a shadow of his former self, and warns her to lock her door, lest he accidentally shoot her for Heathcliff. There is no maid to wait on her, and even worse, no bedroom for her to occupy. When Joseph finally comprehends that she wishes to be shown to Heathcliff’s room, she discovers that it is locked, forcing her to spend the night on a chair in Hareton’s room.
Wretched, Isabella begs Nelly to secretly visit her, but Nelly goes at once to inform Edgar of his sister’s condition. Edgar allows Nelly to visit...
(The entire section is 750 words.)
Chapters 15 and 16 Summary and Analysis
One week has gone by, and Nelly finds the time to continue relating her story to Lockwood.
Four days after her visit to Isabella, Nelly has the opportunity while Edgar is in church to give Catherine Heathcliff’s letter. She presses the letter into the apathetic woman’s hand, but Catherine is too depressed to even notice it is from Heathcliff and does not react until he enters the room.
Catherine kisses Heathcliff, and he returns it with “more kisses than he ever gave in his life before.” Looking into her face, he realizes that she is close to death, and, in anguish, they cling to each other with such intense passion that they make “a strange and fearful picture.” Catherine accuses him of joining with Edgar in having broken her heart, and claims he will forget her after she dies to find happiness elsewhere. He is distraught at her words, and she asks his forgiveness.
Catherine tells Nelly not to feel sorrow for her impending death, rather to envy her, for she regards death as a release from her earthly prison. Heathcliff asks Catherine if she is possessed by the devil, to talk so sanguinely of her death. He begs her not to torture him after she dies, thus driving him as mad as she is now.
Suddenly, Nelly observes Edgar returning from church and implores Heathcliff to leave at once, but Catherine will not release him from her arms. Aware that she will soon die and it is the last...
(The entire section is 703 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary and Analysis
Immediately following Catherine’s funeral, the pleasant weather becomes cold and dismally chilly, setting the tone for Edgar’s grief, Cathy’s motherless state, and Isabella’s rebellion.
Sitting alone with baby Cathy, Nelly hears an intruder, and is amazed to discover Isabella, dripping wet, bruised, and exhausted. Isabella insists on having a carriage take her to town and a few of her former belongings packed before she will consent to let Nelly tend to her woebegone condition. Once Nelly does as she asks, Isabella sits by the fire to explain her escape, requesting that Nelly put the baby away; she “doesn’t like to see it!”
Isabella flings her wedding ring into the fire, daring Heathcliff to search for her simply as a way to antagonize Edgar. Proudly, she refuses to ask Edgar for any help, since he has not been kind to her since her defection. Babbling and somewhat hysterical, she utters her regret that Hindley is in no condition to kill Heathcliff for both their sakes; that, she says, would have been worth remaining behind to witness.
Indeed, Isabella claims, she should and wishes she could stay at the Grange to help Edgar raise Cathy, but knows Heathcliff would not allow her. Acknowledging that he detests her, Isabella knows that Heathcliff would rather endure her presence than allow her and Edgar to be content. Rid of her depressed desire to die at Heathcliff’s hands, Isabella now...
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Chapters 18 and 19 Summary and Analysis
Following the tumultuous climatic events of Chapter 17, Nelly spends the next twelve years tranquilly raising Cathy. The child is a beauty, with her mother’s dark eyes and her father’s fair skin, delicate features, and golden hair. Like her mother, she is high-spirited, but lacking Catherine’s wild nature. In her ability to form close attachments, she reminds Nelly of Catherine, but the child is gentle and thoughtful, like Edgar. Nelly does admit that Cathy is overindulged by Edgar and the servants, and so has a “propensity to be saucy” and perverse.
Living a reclusive life, studying at home with her father and restricted to Thrushcross Grange and its adjoining park, Cathy grows restless, begging to be permitted to visit Pennistone Crag, visible from her window. Since travel to Pennistone would involve passing Wuthering Heights, Nelly and Edgar evade giving permission.
Edgar receives word from Isabella that she is dying, and she wishes to make amends with her brother and deliver Linton to his care. Edgar leaves at once and is gone for three weeks.
During this time, Nelly tries to keep Cathy amused by creating imaginary adventures for her to enact while riding her pony on the estate. Nelly is confident that Cathy will not go beyond the estate gates, but when she fails to return one day for tea, the first place Nelly thinks to look for her is Pennistone Crag. Unable to reach Pennistone on foot...
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Chapters 20 and 21 Summary and Analysis
Edgar warns Nelly not to let Cathy know that Linton will be living at the Heights; he fears she will insist on visiting him and thus meet Heathcliff.
Linton is perplexed as to why he has to move to the Heights, since he has never heard of his father, and asks Nelly why he has not seen him before. Nelly quickly invents a tale that Heathcliff was too busy to visit, and Isabella never mentioned him to Linton because she didn’t want him to miss his father.
Heathcliff and Linton meet. Rudely, Heathcliff insults Isabella for not having told the boy he has a father. Linton is shocked at Heathcliff’s manner. Nelly pleads with him to be kind to the boy, since he is all he has and is delicate. Laughing, Heathcliff says he will be very kind. He has ordered Hareton and all the servants to obey Linton’s wishes. Despite Heathcliff’s declaration that he despises the boy, he wants to fulfill his revenge; he will own the Grange on Edgar’s death, as he already owns the Heights, and he wants the triumph of knowing his son will have Hindley’s son working under him.
Meeting a servant one day in town, Nelly learns that Linton’s hypochondria isolates him from the others in the house. The servant describes him as demanding and whining, rebuffing Hareton’s good-natured attempts to amuse him.
Two years later, on her sixteenth birthday (never celebrated since it is also the anniversary of...
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Chapters 22 and 23 Summary and Analysis
Bedridden with a bad cold, Edgar is unavailable to keep Cathy company. Feeling sorry for her, Nelly tries to spend more time with the girl. One day as they are out rambling, she learns that Cathy often cries at the thought of Edgar’s death; without Edgar or Nelly, she will have no one. Nelly comforts her by saying Edgar’s illness is not serious, and as for herself, she is very healthy. Relieved, Cathy clambers over a gate, only to find herself unable to climb back. While Nelly searches among her keys for one to open the lock, Heathcliff arrives on horseback.
Cathy refuses to speak to him in accordance with her father’s wishes, but Heathcliff cajoles her into feeling guilty for having stopped corresponding with Linton. He assures her that Linton has fallen seriously ill due to her neglect, and charmingly begs her to visit Linton while he is away. Exasperated at Heathcliff’s manipulations, Nelly smashes the lock, and drags Cathy home, protesting all the way that Heathcliff is lying and Linton is undoubtedly fine.
Cathy insists on checking on Linton for herself, and Nelly grudgingly accompanies her to the Heights. There they find Linton coughing and feverish, but in an extremely ill temper. Cathy fusses over him, but the visit soon degenerates into a quarrel in which they each accuse the other’s parent of causing trouble. When Linton asserts that Cathy’s mother loved his father, Cathy pushes him. He...
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Chapter 24 Summary and Analysis
Sensing something odd in Cathy’s behavior, Nelly waits by a window and soon sees the girl returning home on horseback. Confronted, Cathy admits she has been visiting Linton while Nelly has been bedridden. Pleading for Nelly’s understanding, Cathy narrates the events of the past three weeks at the Heights.
During the first visit, she and Linton argue about each one’s favorite diversion, but compromise by agreeing to the merits of both sides. Cathy attempts to play games with Linton, but he becomes peevish when she wins consistently, yet allows her to calm him with her singing.
On the second visit, however, an unpleasant scene develops between Hareton, Cathy, and Linton. Greeting Cathy, Hareton eagerly demonstrates his first steps in learning to read. When Cathy notes that this is all he has accomplished, he responds with anger. Ignoring him, she goes in to visit Linton in the parlor, only to have Hareton burst in, throw them out of the room and bar the door. Linton throws a coughing fit, and as blood gushes from his mouth, Cathy seeks Zillah’s assistance. Guilt-ridden, Hareton meanwhile carries Linton to his bed, calling over his shoulder for Cathy to go home. Joseph locks the sobbing girl out, but Zillah soon directs her back inside. Hareton clumsily attempts to apologize for what he has done, but Cathy, incensed, snaps her whip at him. She runs off as he curses at her.
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Chapters 25 and 26 Summary and Analysis
Conversing with Lockwood, Nelly reveals her awareness that he has fallen in love with Cathy himself. While Lockwood admits that might be true, he intends to resist the temptation, since he will eventually be returning to London and cannot afford a romantic complication. He asks Nelly to continue her narration.
Cathy has obeyed her father’s restrictions. Edgar muses aloud over Linton to Nelly, asking her opinion of his suitability as a husband for Cathy. Believing he is too delicate to reach manhood, Nelly says if he does, at least Cathy would be able to control him. Edgar explains his concerns to Nelly. He knows he will soon die, and although he looks forward to an eternity beside Catherine, he worries about what will happen to Cathy. He can accept with equanimity the fact that a marriage between her and Linton will allow Heathcliff to inherit all his land. Edgar’s only concern is if Linton can possibly make her happy. If his suspicions about Linton are correct, that he is “only a feeble tool to his father,” he would rather “resign her to God, and lay her in the earth before me.”
On Cathy’s seventeenth birthday, he again writes to Linton, asking to see him. Linton responds that his father will not allow him to visit at the Grange, but hopes they can meet somewhere else. He begs Edgar to let him be with Cathy, since he is surrounded by people who dislike him, and requires her presence to be cheerful...
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Chapter 27 Summary and Analysis
A week has gone by since Cathy and Linton’s strange encounter. Edgar’s condition continues to deteriorate, and Cathy is loath to leave his bedside in order to keep her date with Linton. Edgar insists that she go. He has no idea of Linton’s detestable character, and Nelly hasn’t the heart to tell him.
Cathy and Nelly return to the appointed meeting place to discover Linton in hysterical fear of Heathcliff. He begs Cathy to remain with him, intimating that Heathcliff will punish him for her refusal. Upon his arrival, Heathcliff confirms with Nelly that Edgar will die quickly, he blames Linton for not encouraging Cathy’s affections. Tartly, Nelly points out that Linton needs to be under a doctor’s care, not rambling around pretending to be lively.
Viciously, Heathcliff orders Linton to get up. Shaken Linton begs for Cathy’s assistance, and Heathcliff tells her to help him walk home. Cathy demurs, saying she can’t disobey her father by entering Heathcliff’s house, so Heathcliff tells Nelly to bring Linton in. Nelly is reluctant to leave Cathy alone with Heathcliff, but when Heathcliff threatens to harm Linton, the women have no choice but to escort him into the house. Once they cross the threshold, Heathcliff locks them in.
Grabbing the key half out of Heathcliff’s hand, Cathy infuriates Heathcliff. He orders her to stop, but when she persists, he strikes her several times. Grimly,...
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Chapters 28 and 29 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Green: a lawyer
Rumor in the village has it that Nelly and Cathy had been rescued by Heathcliff from drowning in a marsh, and that they have been recuperating at Wuthering Heights. This information is relayed to Nelly by Zillah when she unlocks the door for her. Zillah also brings Nelly a message from Heathcliff: she is to go at once to the Grange and Cathy will follow her in time for Edgar’s funeral. Aghast to think that Edgar has died alone, Nelly is told that he has perhaps another day to live. She hurries out, looking around to see if Cathy is there.
Linton is the only one around. Lying on a couch, he indolently sucks on a stick of candy as he tells Nelly that Cathy has been sobbing since their forced marriage. Seeing that he has no compassion for Cathy, Nelly berates him for having forgotten all her kindness to him. Linton is unmoved; he now owns everything that is Cathy’s, he childishly boasts. He and Heathcliff have even taken her locket with a picture of her parents away from her, just to reinforce the point that she no longer owns anything. Linton alarms Nelly even further when he tells her that Heathcliff has hit her hard enough to draw blood.
Wasting no time, Nelly rushes back to the Grange both to reassure Edgar that Cathy will soon come, and to hire a lawyer, Mr. Green, to alter Edgar’s will in order to prevent Heathcliff from having legal...
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Chapters 30 and 31 Summary and Analysis
Attempting to see Cathy, Nelly is rebuffed by Joseph at the door. However, Zillah often meets Nelly in town, and through her, Nelly is kept informed of the events at the Heights.
Cathy appears and reports Zillah, very haughty and unfriendly, choosing to remain in Linton’s company only. Occasionally catching a glimpse of the girl in tears, Zillah hardens herself against becoming involved. She does not wish to antagonize Heathcliff by befriending Cathy against his orders. Nevertheless, one night Cathy rushes into Zillah’s room demanding that Heathcliff be sent for; Linton is dying, for certain. Afraid to disturb Heathcliff, Zillah ignores her, but the ringing of Linton’s bedside bell eventually sends her into Heathcliff’s room.
Heathcliff finds Cathy sitting numbly beside Linton’s corpse, and asks her how she feels. “He’s safe, and I’m free,” she replies, but adds that she feels like death. She remains in seclusion for fifteen days, visited only by Zillah, whose overtures at kindness are proudly repelled. Heathcliff visits her once to show her Linton’s will. Coerced by his father, Linton has, unsurprisingly, signed over all his and Cathy’s assets to Heathcliff. Although Linton could not legally meddle with Cathy’s land, Heathcliff has managed to claim it as well, using his position as Isabella’s widower. Cathy is completely destitute and dependent on Heathcliff.
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Chapters 32 and 33 Summary and Analysis
It is September 1802. Visiting a friend in northern England, Lockwood realizes he is only fourteen miles away from Thrushcross Grange. Acting on impulse, he decides to spend the night there, since he is still paying rent to Heathcliff for the house. On arriving, he meets an unfamiliar servant who tells him Nelly has moved into Wuthering Heights. Curious, Lockwood walks over to see how everyone is doing.
There is something different about the formerly foreboding place. The gate is no longer locked against visitors, and flowers bloom profusely in the garden. Most strangely, he spies Cathy and Hareton engaged in a reading lesson interrupted by kisses and other signs of affection.
Unseen, Lockwood slides past them into the kitchen where Nelly sits singing as she sews. She is delighted to see Lockwood again, but is surprised to discover that he is unaware of Heathcliff’s death three months ago. As Lockwood sips some ale, she narrates the story of his “queer” death.
Two weeks after Lockwood’s departure, Nelly is summoned to the Heights. Heathcliff explains that he no longer wishes to see Cathy, so he wants Nelly to move in and make a small apartment for herself and the girl. The arrangement soon proves unsatisfactory. Cathy resents being confined to a small space all day, and is reduced to fighting with Joseph in the kitchen. Hareton also frequents the kitchen, where he continues to be the victim of...
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Chapter 34 Summary and Analysis
Following his discussion with Nelly, Heathcliff fails to show up for his meals, shunning all company. Nelly learns that he has been walking outdoors all night.
One morning, Cathy is startled by Heathcliff’s return, reporting to Hareton and Nelly that Heathcliff actually spoke to her without his customary threatening manner. Indeed, she could swear he seemed excited and cheerful! Concerned and confused, Nelly decides to investigate. She, too, notices “a strange, joyful glitter in his eyes.” Refusing breakfast, Heathcliff asks to be left alone.
At noon, he accepts a full plate of food, declaring himself ready to eat at last. However after a few mouthfuls, he pushes the food away, and paces outside in the garden, as a perplexed Hareton tries to find out what the problem is. Hareton, too, finds Heathcliff in a rare, happy mood, although Heathcliff asks Hareton to leave him in solitude.
When he returns an hour or two later, Nelly remarks on the unnatural, chilling appearance of Heathcliff’s face; he is pale, and shivering from nervous agitation. Nelly begs him to let her know why he is acting so strangely—has he had good news? Heathcliff reports that he is “within sight of heaven,” and repeats his desire to be left alone.
No one disturbs him in his room, until Nelly attempts to bring him food at eight that night. Nelly is truly panicked at how Heathcliff looks; he appears to be a...
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