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Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

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At the end of Wuthering Heights, what was the relationship between Cathy and Hareton and what were their future plans?

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In the final three chapters of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, readers find out the resolution to the story. Lockwood returns to Thrushcross Grange later in the year after Linton's death and then goes to see Nelly at Wuthering Heights. There, he observes Cathy teaching Hareton how to read. The two young people appear to be very affectionate towards each other. Nelly recounts to Lockwood what has happened in the intervening period.

Nelly recounts how the friendship between Hareton and Cathy gradually developed as Heathcliff's health slowly deteriorated. She then describes how Heathcliff died and was buried near Catherine. With Heathcliff dead, Cathy and Hareton plan to marry New Year’s Day. They intend to move to Thrushcross Grange and leave Wuthering Heights under the care of the servant Joseph.

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Cathy and Hareton have fallen in love at the end of Wuthering Heights. Their relationship mirrors almost identically the love Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff once shared.

Like Heathcliff, Hareton has been degraded by the head of the household, in this case Heathcliff. Heathcliff has deliberately brought up Hareton as a rough, illiterate farm hand in order to revenge himself on Hindley, Hareton's father. Hindley had degraded Heathcliff to the point that Catherine couldn't think of marrying him. Hindley did this because he was angry and jealous that his father, when alive, had favored Heathcliff.

Like the older Catherine, Cathy is in many ways the dominant partner in the love relationship. She is more refined than Hareton. For instance, she knows how to read, and takes on instructing Hareton. She can be bossy and domineering, just as the older Catherine was, though apparently not to the same extremes. (This is a sticky point, as Nelly, who tells the story, had problems with the older Catherine and may have exaggerated her faults.)

Heathcliff had planned to get revenge on the people who hurt him. It would appease him for the way he was denied Catherine if he could break the hearts of Hindley's son (Hareton) and Linton's daughter (Cathy) the way his was broken. Yet when the time comes to destroy these two, Heathcliff has lost the will to do so. Therefore, they are free to marry.

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Cathy and Hareton have developed a strong, loving relationship, and will undoubtedly soon be married. 

Although Cathy has long scorned Hareton, she finally relents, making overtures of friendship and offering to teach him to read.  Hareton, indignant that she blames their past enmity on him, at first rebuffs her, but he soon softens, and the cousins establish an amiable truce which quickly develops into something deeper.  The two overcome their biggest obstacle  when Hareton forbids Cathy to speak ill of Heathcliff, and Cathy, with a growing maturity based on love, decides it would only be cruel to persist in trying to make Hareton see that Heathcliff has treated him abominably, realizing that "he was attached by ties stronger than reason could break". 

As she watches Hareton and Cathy huddle like innocent, happy children over a book in Chapter 32, Nelly relates that their "intimacy thus commenced grew rapidly...both minds tending to the same point - one loving and desiring to esteem, and the other loving and desiring to be esteemed - they contrived in the end to reach it".  She sees their eventual union as ineveitable, calling it will be "the crown of all my wishes".  In Chapter 33, Heathcliff also recognizes the obvious conclusion, and reflects on the ultimate irony of how his lifelong quest to destroy the Earnshaw and Linton families has ended.

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