Chapters 3–5 Summary and Analysis
Zillah leads Lockwood to an upstairs room, urging him to be quiet, as Heathcliff does not allow people to stay in this particular room. After she leaves, Lockwood observes that someone has scrawled the name “Catherine Earnshaw,” with the occasional “Catherine Heathcliff” and “Catherine Linton” mixed in, all over the window ledge. Lockwood then finds a twenty-five-year-old diary belonging to Catherine Earnshaw, who was clearly a child when she wrote it. Examining the diary, he reads an entry recounting the day after her father, the master of Wuthering Heights, died. Catherine complains that her older brother Hindley has been cruel to both her and Heathcliff, forcing them to listen to Joseph’s sermons. Catherine—who appears to be good friends with Heathcliff—is particularly bothered by her brother’s unfair treatment of “poor Heathcliff.” Hindley apparently threatened to turn Heathcliff out of the house and ordered his wife to yank on Heathcliff’s hair as a form of punishment. Before Lockwood can read more of the diary, however, he falls asleep and begins to dream.
Lockwood is awakened from a nightmare by the sound of a tree branch tapping the window. Realizing what caused the noise, he quickly goes back to sleep and begins dreaming again. Once more, Lockwood hears the tapping sound and, annoyed, attempts to reach through the window to grab the tree branch. He is horrified when his hand grasps a small, cold hand instead. He tries to draw back, but the tiny hand will not let go, and he hears a melancholy voice begging to be let in. The ghostly figure identifies herself as Catherine Linton before Lockwood finally manages to free his hand and hastily pile books in front of the window. He can still hear the ghost moaning to be let in, and when the pile of books is suddenly thrust forward, Lockwood lets out an involuntary yell, bringing Heathcliff into the room. Heathcliff is angry that Lockwood was let into the room, and Lockwood is similarly cross that he was put up in a haunted room. Spooked, Lockwood leaves the room, vowing to stay awake until dawn. Once he leaves, however, Lockwood sees Heathcliff wildly tear open the window, sobbing for Catherine and begging her to return: “Cathy, do come. Oh, do—once more! Oh! my heart's darling! hear me this time, Catherine, at last!” Despite Heathcliff’s pleas, the spectre does not return.
In the morning, Heathcliff yells at Zillah and cruelly provokes his daughter-in-law. Eager to leave the hostile environment at Wuthering Heights, Lockwood sets out for Thrushcross Grange as soon as he is able. The servants at Thrushcross Grange are delighted to see him return, having feared that he might have perished in the storm. Exhausted and weak, Lockwood retires to his study to relax.
Tired, curious, and lonely after his excursion to Wuthering Heights, Lockwood enters into conversation with his housekeeper, Nelly Dean. Knowing that she has lived in the area for a long time, he hopes she can shed some light on the mysterious inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. Nelly reveals that Heathcliff is actually very wealthy and lives at the run-down Wuthering Heights by choice. She explains that Heathcliff’s daughter-in-law is named Catherine Linton and that she grew up in the very house in which they sit. Thrushcross Grange, she explains, was formerly owned by the Linton family, of which Cathy is the last descendant. Likewise, Hareton Earnshaw—the young man living with Heathcliff—is the last of the Earnshaw family who once owned Wuthering Heights. Hareton is the nephew of Cathy’s mother and therefore Cathy’s first cousin. Nelly further explains that Heathcliff’s deceased wife was Cathy’s aunt, which means that Cathy’s late husband (Heathcliff’s son) was also her first cousin. After ambiguously claiming that Hareton has been “cheated” by Heathcliff, Nelly explains that she is intimately acquainted with the history of Wuthering Heights; she lived there as a servant and grew up alongside Heathcliff and the Earnshaw children. Lockwood asks her to tell him more, and Nelly takes over the narration.
(The entire section is 1887 words.)