Wuthering Heights Questions and Answers
by Emily Brontë

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With reference to the laws of Inheritance and property ownership in the era of Wuthering Heights, how does Heathcliff inherit everything by being Cathy's father-in-law?

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Although Bronte's novel was published in 1847, the narrative takes place from 1771-1803 before England's Inheritance Act of 1834 and the Wills Act of 1837.  According to one researcher, C. P. Sanger, then, Emily Bronte applies earlier laws.

In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff forces Cathy Linton to marry his son, Linton Heathcliff, so that when her father Edgar Linton dies, all his assets will go to Linton.  Then, when Linton passes away, Heathcliff claims everything--Catherine's assets and Thrushcross Grange. However, he obtains Catherine's assets and property illegally.

According to the laws mentioned, when Edgar Linton's father dies, his property goes to his son Edgar for life, then to Edgar's sons "in tail" (the male order). Since Edgar has no son, the property passes to...

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