Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University
Lockwood claims the continuation of the story is “in her [Nelly’s] own words, only a little condensed” (192).
“A book lay spread on the sill before her, and the scarcely perceptible wind fluttered its leaves at intervals. I believe Linton had laid it there, for she never endeavoured to divert herself with reading, or occupation of any kind” (193).
“‘Don’t torture me till I’m as mad as yourself.’ cried he, wrenching his head free, and grinding his teeth” (195).
Catherine dies two hours after the birth of young Catherine, “never having recovered sufficient consciousness” (201).
“I don’t know if it be a peculiarity in me, but I am seldom otherwise than happy while watching in the chamber of death, should no frenzied or despairing mourner share the duty with me. I see a repose that neither earth nor hell can break; and I feel an assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter — the Eternity they have entered — where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in its fulness” (201-202).
“He endeavoured to pronounce the name, but could not manage it” (203). Nelly reports to Heathcliff the nature of Cathy’s death.
“And I pray one prayer — I repeat it till my tongue stiffens — Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you — haunt me then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe — I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always — take any form — drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!’
He dashed his head against the knotted trunk….”
“Her husband lies in the same spot, now; and they have each a simple headstone above, and a plain grey block at their feet, to mark the graves” (205). Thus Nelly contorts time to join these two.
Isabella escapes Wuthering Heights.
“He has extinguished my love effectually, and so I’m at my ease. I can recollect yet how I loved him; and can dimly imagine that I could still be loving him, if — no, no!” (208-209).
Hindley locks Heathcliff out.
“I knocked over Hareton, who was hanging a litter of puppies from a chairback in the doorway” (217).
Another birth/death combo: Linton born.
“It was named Catherine, but he never called it the name in full, as he had never called the first Catherine short, probably because Heathcliff had a habit of doing so” (219).
“But you’ll not want to hear my moralizing, Mr. Lockwood: you’ll judge as well as I can, all these things; at least, you’ll think you will, and that’s the same” (220).
How can we explain the purpose of the second half of the novel? Why do we get a second generation? The same names are recycled, but we care much less who’s who. The original Cathy/Heathcliff passion was so powerful it destroyed first the immediate family, then another family, then another generation? Or they were so intense they couldn’t even make it a whole book?
Young Cathy wants to rove.
Isabella is dead.
Cathy ventures and is found with Hareton: “he was never taught to read or write” (231).
Isabella is again reported dead (234).
Linton arrives, with his “sickly peevishness” (235).
Linton goes to Wuthering Heights: “I feared I should have to come down and fetch my property myself. You’ve brought it, have you? Let’s see what we can make of it” (242).
“I’m bitterly disappointed with the whey-faced whining wretch!” (243).
“On the anniversary of her birth we never manifested any signs of rejoicing, because it was, also, the anniversary of her late mistress’s death. Her father invariably spent that day alone in the library; and walked, at dusk, as far as Gimmerton kirkyard, where he would frequently prolong his stay beyond midnight. Therefore Catherine was thrown on her own resources for amusement” (246). Brontë autobiography.
Heathcliff’s plan: “There is no clause in the will to secure it so; his property would go to me; but, to prevent disputes I desire their union, and am resolved to bring it about” (249).
Heathcliff insidiously paints a romantic picture to Cathy about her father Edgar: “He thought me too poor to wed his sister … and was grieved that I got her — his pride was hurt, and he’ll never forgive it” (251).
Heathcliff regarding Hareton: “I’ve pleasure in him…. He has satisfied my expectations — if he were a born fool I should not enjoy it half so much — But he’s no fool; and I can sympathize with all his feelings, having felt them myself — I know what he suffers now, for instance, exactly — it is merely the beginning of what he shall suffer, though. And he’ll never be able to emerge from his bathos of coarseness, and ignorance. I’ve got him faster than his scoundrel of a father secured me, and lower; for he takes a pride in his brutishness. I’ve taught him to scorn everything extra-animal as silly and weak” (252-253).
Cathy and Linton mock Hareton.
Edgar tries to explain matters to Cathy a bit better.
“The earlier dated were embarrassed and short; gradually, however, they expanded into copious love letters, foolish as the age of the writer rendered natural, yet with touches, here and there, which, I thought, were borrowed from a more experienced source” (258).
Nelly intercepts a love letter, and Cathy agrees to her burning them all, futilely attempting to save some text but burning her fingers instead (260-261).
“her father insisted on her reading less, and taking more exercise” (262). But Edgar grows sickly.
Cathy and Linton argue over their respective fathers.
Cathy slips away, riding over the moors to visit Linton in the evenings.
“I’d rather be three months ill, than hear you frame a deliberate lie” (278).
Cathy confesses her visits: “He wanted all to lie in an ecstacy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle, and dance in a glorious jubilee” (280).
Hareton rages; Linton has a conniption.
Cathy begs Nelly not to rat her out to daddy, which Nelly immediately does, “walking straight from her room to his” (286).
“I some way fancy, no one could see Catherine Linton, and not love her. You smile; but why do you look so lively and interested, when I talk about her? and why have you asked me to hang her picture over your fireplace? and why — ” (288).
Edgar anticipates his own death.
“Linton complied; and had he been unrestrained, would probably have spoiled all by filling his epistles with complaints and lamentations; but his father kept a sharp watch over him; and, of course, insisted on every line that my master sent being shown; so, instead of penning his peculiar personal sufferings and distresses, the themes constantly uppermost in his thoughts, he harped on the cruel obligation of being held asunder from his friend and love” (290-291).
I could not picture a father treating a dying child as tyrannically and wickedly as I afterwards learnt Heathcliff had treated him, to compel this apparent eagerness; his efforts redoubling the more imminently his avaricious and unfeeling plans were threatened with defeat by death” (291).
“his large blue eyes wandered timidly over her; the hollowness round them, transforming to haggard wildness, the languid expression they once possessed” (292).
Linton is clearly terrorized.
“My master requested an account of our on-goings…. I also threw little light on his inquiries, for I hardly knew what to hide, and what to reveal” (296).
“Catherine’s face was just like the landscape — shadows and sunshine flitting over it, in rapid succession; but the shadows rested longer and the sunshine was more transient” (297).
“With streaming face and an expression of agony, Linton had thrown his nerveless frame along the ground; he seemed convulsed with exquisite terror” (299).
“‘Now,’ said he, with curbed ferocity, ‘I’m getting angry — and if you don’t command that paltry spirit of yours — ” (300).
“It’s odd what a savage feeling I have to anything that seems afraid of me! Had I been born where laws are less strict, and tastes less dainty, I should treat myself to a slow vivisection of those two as an evening’s amusement” (302).
Heathcliff imprisons and slaps Cathy.
“Catherine, his [Edgar’s] happiest days were over when your days began. He cursed you, I dare say, for coming into the world (I did, at least)” (306).
“I don’t hate you. I’m not angry that you struck me. Have you never loved anybody, in all your life, uncle?” (307).
“‘What do you mean?’ asked Zillah. ‘It’s not his tale — they tell that in the village — about your being lost in the marsh'” (310).
Edgar dies (315).
“Time had little altered his person either. There was the same man; his dark face rather sallower, and more composed, his frame a stone or two heavier, perhaps” (317).
“Mr. Heathcliff, you have nobody to love you; and, however miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery! You are miserable, are you not? Lonely, like the devil, and envious like him? Nobody loves you — nobody will cry for you, when you die!” (319).
Heathcliff regarding a portrait of Catherine: “I shall have that at home. Not because I need it, but — ” (319).
“I’ll tell you what I did yesterday! I got the sexton, who was digging Linton’s grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there, when I saw her face again — it is hers yet — he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change, if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose — and covered it up — not Linton’s side, damn him! I wish he’d been soldered in lead — and I bribed the sexton to pull it away, when I’m laid there, and slide mine out too. I’ll have it made so, and then, by the time Linton gets to us, he’ll not know which is which!” (319).
“she has disturbed me, night and day, through eighteen years — incessantly — remorselessly — till yesternight — and yesternight, I was tranquil. I dreamt I was sleeping the last sleep, by that sleeper, with my heart stopped, and my cheek frozen against hers” (320).
Then a narration of his grave-digging the night of her burial.
“I felt her by me — I could almost see her, and yet I could not! … She showed herself, as she often was in life, a devil to me! And, since then, sometimes more and sometimes less, I’ve been the sport of that intolerable torture! Infernal — keeping my nerves at such a stretch, that, if they had not resembled catgut, they would, long ago, have relaxed to the feebleness of Linton’s” (321).
Zillah reports to Nelly.
Linton is extremely ill. “‘We know that!’ answered Heathcliff, ‘but his life is not worth a farthing, and I won’t spend a farthing on him” (323).
Linton dies; Cathy says, “I should feel well — but … you have left me so long to struggle against death, alone, that I feel and see only death! I feel like death!” (325).
“I’ve been starved a month or more” (327).
Hareton: “Will you ask her to read to us, Zillah? I’m stalled of doing naught” (327-328).
“I can see no remedy, at present, unless she could marry again; and that scheme, it does not come within my province to arrange.
Thus ended Mrs. Dean’s story. Notwithstanding the doctor’s prophecy, I am rapidly recovering strength, and, though it be only the second week in January, I propose getting out on horse-back, in a day or two, and riding over to Wuthering Heights, to inform my landlord that I shall spend the next six months in London; and, if he likes, he may look out for another tenant to take the place, after October — I would not pass another winter here, for much” (328-329).
Lockwood visits Wuthering Heights.
“I should like to be riding Minny down there! I should like to be climbing up there — Oh! I’m tired — I’m stalled, Hareton!” (331).
“I have no materials for writing, not even a book from which I might tear a leaf” (331).
Hareton attempts to learn to read.
“he has selected my favourite pieces that I love the most to repeat, as if out of deliberate malice!” (333).
“How dreary life gets over in that house! … What a realization of something more romantic than a fairy tale it would have been for Mrs. Linton Heathcliff, had she and I struck up an attachment, as her good nurse desired, and migrated together, into the stirring atmosphere of the town!” (335).
Time has passed; Nelly is now at Wuthering Heights.
“I never dreamt of his dying!” (340).
Cathy is kinder towards Hareton, and books seem like peace-offerings, or love tokens. Joseph blurs religion and cash (346).
“You see, Mr. Lockwood, it was easy enough to win Mrs. Heathcliff’s heart; but now, I’m glad you did not try — the crown of all my wishes will be the union of those two; I shall envy no one on their wedding day — there won’t be a happier woman than myself in England!” (346).
Hareton and Cathy have planted a flower-bed (349).
Heathcliff weirdly refrains from violence (350).
“You know, they both appeared, in a measure, my children” (351).
“My old enemies have not beaten me — now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their representatives — I could do it; and none could hinder me — But where is the use? I don’t care for striking…. I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.
Nelly, there is a strange change approaching” (353).
“But you’ll not talk of what I tell you, and my mind is so eternally secluded in itself, it is tempting, at last, to turn it out to another.
Five minutes ago, Hareton seemed a personification of my youth, not a human being” (353).
“what is not connected with her to me? and what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped on the flags! In every cloud, in every tree — filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object, by day I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men, and women — my own features mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!” (353).
“he might have had a monomania on the subject of his departed idol; but on every other point his wits were as sound as mine” (354).
“And yet I cannot continue in this condition! — I have to remind myself to breathe — almost to remind my heart to beat!” (354).
“My confessions have not relieved me” (354).
Heathcliff seems relatively cheerful in April: “his frame shivering, not as one shivers with chill or weakness, but as a tight-stretched cord vibrates — a strong thrilling, rather than trembling” (358).
“its window, as I mentioned before, is wide enough for anybody to get through” (359).
“If you enter the kirkyard, you’ll read on his headstone, only that, and the date of his death” (360).
“He muttered detached words, also; the only one, I could catch, was the name of Catherine, coupled with some wild term of endearment, or suffering” (362).
“The lattice, flapping to and fro, had grazed one hand that rested on the sill — no blood trickled from the broken skin” (365).
“We buried him, to the scandal of the whole neighborhood, as he had wished” (365).
Reports of ghosts walking on the moors. Hareton and Cathy will marry on New Year’s day and move to the Grange.
“I lingered … and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth” (367).
The Decentered Text: The central location, or setting, of the novel seems to be the moors. This is where Catherine and Heathcliff get along as one, and of course we do want them together. Their separation is what drive the story forward: they’ve been disjoined or displaced. But we never get any of those scenes on the moors. These take place in the gaps (unlike in the movies). Instead, we get all scenes at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, the more civilized world of much less or no interest.
1) What do Wuthering Heights and Thrushcroft Grange each represent?
2) What does “wuthering” mean and how is it appropriate to more than the setting or atmosphere of the novel?
3) What role does religion play in the novel?
4) Describe the character of Mr. Lockwood. How do we feel about him? What purpose does he serve?
5) What do we gain and lose with Nelly as narrator. How do her own opinions influence the story?
6) What makes the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy a “great love”?
7) Discuss the meaning and significance of books in the novel. What do they represent in this world?
8) How do you explain the second half of the novel: why do we get a second generation?
9) What starts Heathcliff on the road to death? How would you characterize his death? (Perhaps thinks of Catherine’s death as a point for comparison.)
10) How does the relationship between Cathy and Hareton at the end of the novel differ from Catherine and Heathcliff’s? What does the novel finally say about love?
What’s love got to do with it?
Hindley and Frances: insignificant and idiotic (according to the snide Cathy); Frances dies at Hareton’s birth.
Cathy and Heathcliff: violent and involves the dashing of heads; she dies giving birth.
Cathy and Edgar: polite, proper, cordial, and potentially ill-suited to Cathy.
Heathcliff and Isabella: a sadistic side-effect of a supposed “great” love; with a mention of death with birth as an offstage convenience.
Young Cathy and Linton: the vengeance reaches its complete conclusion here, but no one is around to suffer from it now.
Young Cathy and Lockwood?: Lockwood chickens out, into non-involvement.
Young Cathy and Hareton: she finds a voice against Heathcliff and eventually becomes a civilizing force.
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. NY: Penguin Books, 1986.