Wuthering Heights Chapter XXVII-The End

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Published December 1847 by Thomas Cautley Newby
Classic/Romance
Format: Paperback; 308 pages
Also From This Author: Poems By Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: 3/5

Before I finally post my last, lingering thoughts on Wuthering Heights, I feel like I need to say something about my month-long absence from blogging. January was a rather tough month for us in many ways, and I think the stress finally took its toll on me both physically and emotionally, so I basically “checked out” in February. My life revolved around working, watching the Olympics (Go Team U.S.A.! Yes, I am a huge Olympics fanatic), reading, and focusing on my responsibilities here in Grenoble. Also, I have been sick three times this month (guess that’s a side-effect of working with children). BUT, I am back and even though I am forcing myself to write and publish this last Wuthering Heights post, I am ready to dive back into the blogosphere with some exciting posts (such as my thoughts on Northanger Abbey, which I currently have my nose in, as well as a fun challenge I am giving myself for my birthday next week!).

wutheringheightsSo, let’s discuss how I felt about Wuthering Heights the second time around! But first, here are links to my previous posts:

Chapters I-IX
Chapters X-XVII
Chapters XVIII-XXVI

[Spoilers ahead, beware!]

This section starts off with one of the most suspenseful sections in the novel. Cathy, in her naivety and gentleness, is lured by Linton to Wuthering Heights, where Heathcliff essentially takes her prisoner. His intentions are obvious to the reader: he wants Cathy and Linton to become married. The worst part about this section is not the forced marriage, but the fact that Edgar Linton is on his deathbed and Cathy is afraid she will be unable to see him before he dies since Heathcliff refuses to let her leave.

“Mr. Heathcliff, you are a cruel man, but you’re not a fiend; and you won’t, from mere malice, destroy, irrevocably, all my happiness.”

Oh he would, but fortunately that doesn’t happen. Catherine is reunited with her father just before he dies, and finally Heathcliff becomes the master of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Shortly afterwards, Linton dies as well, which is a sad passage considering that Heathcliff’s neglect is mostly responsible. At this point Nelly’s narration ends as we have arrived at Mr. Lockwood’s arrival, and we dare to ask ourselves, “What’s next?” in Heathcliff’s schemes.

Mr. Lockwood now decides to leave Thrushcross Grange, and I honestly can’t blame him, but before he leaves he visits Wuthering Heights one last time and we can now reconcile the Heathcliff, Hareton, and Cathy that we met at the novel’s beginning with those of Nelly’s narration. We see how cruel Cathy has become towards her cousin Hareton, and even though I never stopped desiring a happy ending for Cathy, I did sympathize with Hareton a great deal. I felt that he and Linton were the two extremes of the same spectrum: both were abused and neglected by Heathcliff, both were unloved by their fathers, and both sought the attentions of young Cathy Linton, yet we find that Hareton had a much stronger spirit than Linton. I understand and sympathize with the fact that Linton was already a frail child before falling into Heathcliff’s clutches, where he was further abused and terrified, but the way he responds is not the same way that Hareton responds to his own sufferings. Linton, out of fear, does whatever his father asks of him, regardless of the consequences it has on others. Yet Hareton, who does obey Heathcliff for the most part, still has his own desires that ultimately control his destiny.

Now, for the long-awaited happy ending! After several months, Mr. Lockwood returns to Wuthering Heights where we find that Heathcliff has died (and is unsurprisingly mourned by no one). Yet, before he died, his behavior changed a great deal, and he let go of his desires to continue his revenge on Cathy and Hareton. We have Catherine Earnshaw Linton to thank for this: that morbid grave exhumation scene in Chapter 29 now seems to have a greater purpose than to further elaborate Heathcliff’s twistedness. The final chapters of the novel show a much pleasanter scene at Wuthering Heights: Cathy and Hareton, once at odds, are able to forgive and forget and move on (finally someone is able to!), and Nelly confesses to Mr. Lockwood that the two will soon be married (this even elicited a silent “aww” from me).

My second time reading this novel produced some interesting reactions. My hatred for Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw grew deeper, yet I was finally able to see an actual happy ending for two characters I ended up “rooting for” this time around. Honestly, I don’t think I will attempt to read this novel again for another 10 years, but I was glad to see that some people who were reading along with me actually enjoyed it! That is refreshing.

For those who have read Wuthering Heights, what were your final thoughts on the novel? Do you think it deserves to be canonized? What was the biggest take-away for you? (For me it was to forgive and forget! Honestly, all of that bitterness and thirst for revenge seemed so exhausting)

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Wuthering Heights Chapters XVIII-XXVI

wutheringheightsWeekly Schedule
Chapters I-IX
Chapters X-XVII

[Spoilers for Chapters 18-26 of Wuthering Heights]

Today was gloomy and drizzly, perfect Wuthering Heights weather, and I spent a few hours this afternoon powering through this week’s chapters. Even though there was significantly less drama, we were introduced to two “new” characters, one of which I actually like! Even though Mr. Lockwood meets Cathy Linton when he first visits Wuthering Heights, we don’t immediately find out much about her, except that she’s Heathcliff’s daughter-in-law. Our section this week picks up 12 years after the deaths of Catherine Earnshaw-Linton and Hindley Earnshaw. Nelly right away describes that those were the happiest 12 years of her life, and why would that be? Because Heathcliff is absent! It was nice for me as well, I must say. But besides that, Nelly is also the nanny to little Cathy Linton, whom I really like, despite the fact that she doesn’t listen to Nelly or her Father when they tell her to stay away from Wuthering Heights (but who can blame her, honestly, when she’s forbidden from visiting without really knowing why?). She’s still a good-natured and good-tempered girl (at least compared to her mother).

Nelly narrates the happenings of the next 5 years, up until Cathy is 17 years old (which we learn was a little more than a year before Mr. Lockwood’s arrival). For the most part, Cathy’s life is rather uneventful, that is until her Aunt Isabella dies and Edgar brings home his nephew Linton Heathcliff to stay with them. Cathy is right away enraptured–she immediately loves her cousin and can hardly wait to become best friends with him. Unfortunately, nothing good lasts in this story, and Heathcliff sends Joseph (ugh) to–and I’m basically paraphrasing it here–fetch back his property to Wuthering Heights. Now, young Linton is a sickly boy with a fair complexion and a rather weak-spirit. He resembles his father in no way whatsoever, so right away we know that things are not going to end well for Linton.

Cathy, of course, is heartbroken, but she continues on her life until a few years later when her and Nelly run into Heathcliff not far from Wuthering Heights, and he tricks persuades Cathy to come visit. Nelly, essentially powerless at this point, tries desperately to dissuade Cathy, because she knows that Heathcliff is up to no good. But once Cathy is reunited with Linton the damage is done, and unfortunately for everyone involved (including us readers), Heathcliff now has power over Cathy as well, and his vengeful plan is now all set to snowball into an avalanche and ruin everyone’s lives–*breathes*–ok, it’s clearly obvious I hate Heathcliff.

Heathcliff effortlessly persuades Cathy and Linton into falling in love, but I’m guessing that, based on all of the other romantic relationships here, it is NOT going to end happily-ever-after. My guess is that Linton is going to succumb to his illness in a matter of pages and Cathy (who may actually love him, who knows? At least she’s nice to him) will turn into the apathetic Cathy we met at the beginning of the novel.

My favorite part of this section was finally seeing a child actually being loved and cared for. Edgar, despite his cruelty towards Heathcliff during their adolescence, is actually a doting father who loves and admires his spirited daughter. Nelly is also a loving and practical nurse who does not treat Cathy wrongly, but who really wishes her to be safe and happy. Cathy turns out to be a thoughtful and agreeable young lady, her only faults being that she’s overly curious and likes to run off to tend to her sick cousin and then lie about where she’s been. In her we can see a kind heart.

I have completely forgotten how this novel ends, but right now I’m earnestly hoping that Cathy gets some type of happy ending. I think it’ll be the only thing that can redeem this novel for me.

For those reading along with me: how do you feel about Cathy Linton and Linton Heathcliff, both as individual characters and as a romantic pair? Do you agree with Cathy’s statement that her and Linton would never quarrel after they were married and used to each other (Ch. 23)?

Post your thoughts in the comments, or share the link to your own blog post :)

Wuthering Heights Read Along: Chapters I-IX

wutheringheightsI was somewhat doubtful at my ability to get this post up tonight, but fortunately I got really immersed into the last few chapters of this week’s reading and was able to speed through it on my way home from Philadelphia tonight! I was in Philly today visiting my uncle and his family (whom I haven’t seen since my wedding two years ago!), and the frigid, dreary weather set the perfect atmosphere for Wuthering Heights. January’s are known to be wet and cold, and that is why I chose this month to schedule a read-along; I love seasonal reading! So, let’s get down to discussing all of the perturbing details of Wuthering Heights! [Spoiler Alert for Chapters 1-9 of Wuthering Heights]

I did not look at where Chapter 9 would leave us plot wise before I set the weekly chapter numbers; I just divided the book up equally between four weeks. But after finishing Chapter 9 I realized this was a perfect resting place. But let’s go back to the beginning, shall we? I mentioned in an earlier post that the first and last time I read Wuthering Heights was ten and a half years ago, and even though I liked the novel at the time, I could not make myself relate to, sympathize with, or even like our two tragically selfish characters, Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Delving into this reread, I’ve realized that, even though the characters are still unlikable for me (especially Cathy), I am actually very into the novel so far!

We follow the diary entries of a Mr. Lockwood, who just became the tenant of Heathcliff, our Byronic hero. Right away we get to meet Heathcliff and the rest of his household, and Emily Brontë immediately introduces this motif of chaos, specifically with character confusion. If you don’t pay close attention, it can be tricky figuring out who is who as well as how everyone is related to each other. If my memory serves me correctly, it will get harder later on when we have two Catherines and two Heathcliffs, on top of all the Lintons and Earnshaws that are involved. If you are already familiar with this novel, or if you don’t mind some spoiling, you can check out this character map to aid any confusion you may have :)

We take on the point of view of Mr. Lockwood as we become acquainted with Heathcliff, his daughter-in-law Catherine Heathcliff, Hareton Earnshaw (later revealed to be Catherine H.’s cousin), and the…interesting…servants. Between the hostile dogs and the eerie ghost dreams, I found myself wanting to flee Wuthering Heights nearly as much as Mr. Lockwood did.

I was much more into the next several chapters, when Ellen ‘Nelly’ Dean begins her narration of Heathcliff’s upbringing. This is the part that helps me sympathize with Heathcliff. It helps me reconcile the harsh and unfeeling land lord with the abused and ridiculed orphan boy who needs a hug at one moment and a slap the next. The only person who seems to understand or connect with him is Cathy Earnshaw, but their relationship is no picnic. It is tortured and strongly corrupted by the pitfalls of human nature. One thing I do appreciate about their relationship, however, is that it seems to be sadly realistic–something that could happen to some unfortunate couple. This is no fairy tale.

The most fundamental section of this week’s reading for me was Chapter 9, when Cathy E. reveals to Nelly her recent engagement to Edgar Linton before bluntly confessing her love for Heathcliff. Here we see an honest part of Cathy. She is a complex character: at home she acts in a mischievous and immature manner which she quickly covers up with a charming and attractive façade whenever in company with the Lintons. During this confession scene, we get to see an honest part of Cathy’s character. Unfortunately, due to her harsh delivery of words and the fact that she is unaware that Heathcliff is within earshot, she declares that it would degrade her to marry Heathcliff. At this insult, Heathcliff flees Wuthering Heights, and the most tragic part is that it is just before Cathy makes this beautifully heartfelt speech, which I will quote bits and pieces of here:

“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire…My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

I know that’s a long passage, but how beautiful and moving it is! And just after it we find that Heathcliff has disappeared and Cathy immediately goes into despair. Three years pass, Cathy marries Edgar, and Nelly’s narration comes to a pause as Chapter 9 draws to a close. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?? I honestly can’t remember, and I really want to know!

So, to wrap up this long post, let me ask you all some questions:

  • What do you think about Cathy’s engagement to Edgar? Do you think her reasons for marrying him are naive, immature/shallow, or unselfish?
  • I talked about how confusing this novel can be at times. Are there any areas that have confused you thus far?
  • What are your feelings regarding our seemingly doomed lovers, Cathy and Heathcliff?

If you are reading along with us or if you have already read Wuthering Heights, post your thoughts/blog link in the comments below! And check back in a week for my thoughts on Chapters 10-17 :)