Chapters 6–7 Summary and Analysis
When Hindley returns to Wuthering Heights after his father’s death, he surprises everyone by showing up with Frances, his new wife. Though Frances is pretty, Nelly feels that she is rather silly and suspects that she has no money or family connections. Hindley is utterly devoted to Frances, and when her dislike of Heathcliff stirs up Hindley’s old resentments, he reduces Heathcliff to the position of a servant. Though Heathcliff’s new role is difficult and humiliating, he is bolstered by Catherine’s friendship. The more Hindley neglects the upbringing of the children, the more Nelly worries they will grow up to be savages. One day, Heathcliff and Catherine cannot be found anywhere. Heathcliff shows up alone later that night and reports that the children had gone to nearby Thrushcross Grange to spy on the Linton children—Edgar and Isabella. Heathcliff and Catherine were discovered as they peered through the window, and though they tried to run away, one of the Lintons’ dogs trapped Catherine by biting her ankle. The Lintons recognized Catherine and began to fuss over her foot, but disgusted by Heathcliff, they sent him back to Wuthering Heights. Hindley is furious when he finds out, especially after Mr. Linton visits and lectures Hindley about taking more care with Catherine’s upbringing. As a result, Heathcliff is forbidden to speak to Catherine, and Frances takes great care to restrain Catherine’s wild nature upon her return home.
Catherine stays with the Lintons for five weeks as her foot heals. Frances visits her there and takes great pains to attempt to reform Catherine’s behavior. When Catherine finally returns at Christmas, she looks and acts like a little lady. Delighted with Catherine’s transformation, Hindley forces a filthy Heathcliff to greet her “like the other servants.” Catherine remarks that Heathcliff looks dirty and cross in comparison to the Linton children. Offended, Heathcliff defiantly says that he likes to be dirty and runs away.
To repay their kindness in taking care of Catherine, Hindley invites the Linton children to visit Wuthering Heights the next day. Their mother agrees on the condition that they are kept away from Heathcliff. Nelly finds Heathcliff in the stable and, feeling sorry for him, offers to help clean him up. Though he initially ignores her and sulks alone, he comes back the next day and requests her aid. Nelly helps to make him presentable and attempts to bolster his confidence by reminding him that he is stronger and tougher than Edgar Linton. When Heathcliff bemoans his dark skin, Nelly suggests that he “frame high notions” of his birth by imagining that he is a kidnapped prince in disguise. Eventually, Nelly is able to cheer Heathcliff up, but before Catherine can see him, Hindley orders that Heathcliff stay upstairs until after dark. Edgar Linton sees this scene from the doorway and remarks that Heathcliff’s hair looks like a “colt's mane over his...
(The entire section is 1,231 words.)