Chapters 29–31 Summary and Analysis
Soon after the funeral, Heathcliff comes to Thrushcross Grange to retrieve Cathy. He explains that he intends to rent the house out and orders Nelly to remain there as the housekeeper. Defiantly, Cathy tells Heathcliff that whatever else he may do, he cannot make her and Linton hate one another. In response, Heathcliff says that Linton’s own awful personality is enough to make Cathy hate him. As she leaves to pack, Cathy reminds Heathcliff that no matter how miserable he makes her, she will be satisfied in the knowledge that his cruelty stems from an even greater misery. When he is alone with Nelly, Heathcliff orders Catherine’s portrait to be taken to Wuthering Heights. He then admits that when Edgar’s grave was being dug, he bribed the sexton to uncover Catherine’s coffin. Heathcliff opened the coffin and gazed upon Catherine’s corpse, which he claims was well preserved. Before covering the coffin back up, he ordered the sexton to remove the side of Catherine’s coffin that faced away from Edgar. He explains to Nelly that he intends to have the corresponding side of his own coffin removed so that he and Catherine will be together in the earth when he is eventually buried next to her. Horrified, Nelly reprimands him for disturbing the dead. Heathcliff admits that this is not the first time he has attempted to violate Catherine’s grave and explains that ever since her death, he has been haunted and tormented by her ghostly presence. Ready to leave, Cathy reappears and asks Nelly to come and visit her at Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff interrupts and says that Nelly is not allowed to come to the house unless he expressly asks her to.
Nelly tells Lockwood that she hasn’t seen Cathy since the day Heathcliff took her from Thrushcross Grange, though Nelly has tried to visit her at Wuthering Heights. Nelly only knows what went on at Wuthering Heights during this time because of her friendship with Heathcliff’s housekeeper, Zillah. Soon after her arrival at Wuthering Heights, Cathy is put in charge of Linton. Not knowing how to care for him, she begs Heathcliff to send for a doctor. Heathcliff refuses and forbids anyone in the house from helping her. Zillah says that she occasionally saw Cathy crying alone but didn’t dare disobey Heathcliff by comforting her. Soon, Linton dies, and when Heathcliff asks how she feels, Cathy replies, “You have left me so long to struggle against death alone, that I feel and see only death! I feel like death!” After Linton’s death, Cathy stays alone upstairs for over two weeks. Zillah makes some attempts at kindness, which are instantly rejected by Cathy. Heathcliff shows Linton’s will to Cathy, revealing that he compelled Linton to sign all of the couple’s assets over to him. Friendless and poor, Cathy does not have the resources to contest even Heathcliff’s more dubious legal claim to her land. Eventually, the cold drives Cathy downstairs to where Zillah and Hareton are sitting by the fire. At first they try to be friendly to Cathy, especially Hareton, who fetches her some books to read. Cathy, however, coldly rebuffs their companionship, recalling their unwillingness to help during her earlier desperation. Hareton explains that he tried to help her but was thwarted by Heathcliff. When Cathy refuses to listen to his excuses, Hareton gives up on being nice to her. Cathy continues to make enemies of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights and often deliberately goads Heathcliff into hurting her. After hearing Zillah’s account, Nelly considers quitting her job, buying a small cottage, and taking Cathy in, but she realizes that Heathcliff would never allow Cathy to leave. Nelly speculates that Cathy’s only hope is perhaps to marry again. This marks the end of Nelly’s narration, and Lockwood explains that he intends to ride out to Wuthering Heights soon and inform Heathcliff that he will be leaving Thrushcross Grange early, having no desire to stay in...
(The entire section is 1,534 words.)