What is a scene from Bronte's Wuthering Heights that contains potential for misunderstanding between two characters?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An early scene that is loaded with the potential for misunderstanding is the scene between Heathcliff and Lockwood when Heathcliff breaks into the room Lockwood is occupying for the night. Lockwood has a horrendous nightmare after reading Catherine's writing that line the margins of books. She has so haunted his mind and perspective that he either dreams of her with horrible effect or he becomes the conduit for her ghostly presence as she pleads to be let in.

And that minx, Catherine Linton, or Earnshaw, or however she was called--she must have been a changeling--wicked little soul!  She told me she had been walking the earth these twenty years: a just punishment for her mortal transgressions, I’ve no doubt!’

Lockwood, in defense of his statements denouncing Catherine, as she was the villainess of his nightmare that caused him to scream out loud, almost blurts out that he had been reading her scribblings in the margins of her books. His floundering to keep his secret was almost worse than his denunciation. Heathclif's reaction is a violent one:

‘What can you mean by talking in this way to me!’ thundered Heathcliff with savage vehemence.  ‘How--how dare you, under my roof?--God! he’s mad to speak so!’  And he struck his forehead with rage.

This situation is perfectly calculated to lead to misunderstanding between characters. For one thing, a guest in Heathcliff's home (such as it is) screams loudly in the night, alarming everyone. Heathcliff enters in fear, expecting to see a ghost as the room was meant to remain locked up. Then, in this atmosphere, Lockwood begins reviling Catherine, the woman Heathcliff has never stopped mourning. Finally, Heathcliff reaches such a pitch of distress that he hits his own head in anguish. Surely misunderstanding was just a breath away had either of the principals here lost one further ounce of rational thought or control. As it came out, Lockwood kept up his explanation thus, unintentionally, melting Heathcliff into tears of sorrow and regret.

I guessed, however, by his irregular and intercepted breathing, that he struggled to vanquish an excess of violent emotion ... suppressing a groan: and, as I fancied, by the motion of his arm’s shadow, dashing a tear from his eyes.

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Wuthering Heights

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