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 Chapters X-XVII

wutheringheightsI apologize for not posting this much earlier in the week. The past five days have been rather taxing on me, both mentally and emotionally, and I have been trying to keep up with all of my responsibilities as best as I can. Heureusement (as the French say), the only thing I didn’t manage to complete this week was my Wuthering Heights post, but here it is now!

[Spoilers for the first half of Wuthering Heights]

I was really immersed in this week’s chapters for some reason, and I even stayed up rather late on Saturday reading through the end of Chapter 17. For those of you who are reading along with me, or if you are very familiar with Wuthering Heights, you may be asking, “What did you find so enjoyable about all of that?” And I will borrow the words of Cleo at Classical Carousel and say that the drama in this novel is very much like a car wreck you cannot look away from.

Nelly Dean’s story continues with Heathcliff’s return. She discloses that she does not know how he spent those three years away, nor how he made his wealth, but one thing is for sure: Heathcliff and Catherine are still infatuated with each other, and they seem to take some type of sadistic pleasure in how their outwardly affections distress Catherine’s husband, Edgar.

Heathcliff, who seems to have become a gentleman in his absence, begins spending a good amount of time with Catherine and her sister-in-law, Isabella Linton. Isabella–poor, naive Isabella. Don’t we all just pity her? Blindly, she “falls in love” with Heathcliff, and is then harshly teased about it by Catherine and even Heathcliff himself (but does this change Isabella’s heart? Nope. She runs off and marries Heathcliff later on…). That teasing scene is probably my least favorite involving Catherine Linton. The only thing more cruelly selfish than exposing Isabella like that is when she maliciously decides to break her own heart in order to break Edgar and Heathcliff’s hearts. Honestly, what does Edgar see in her? Heathcliff’s obsession with her is more understandable, but why, Edgar? Why? This comic from Hark! A Vagrant sums it up perfectly:

Catherine

And Heathcliff is just as violent as Catherine, although he has the “tortured Byronic hero” thing going for him (but I have yet to discover any redeeming qualities about him–are there any?). It is clear during this entire section of the novel that Heathcliff has developed a consuming desire for revenge. All of his actions are governed by the same thought: “How can this hurt those who have hurt me?” And he doesn’t just want to hurt his former oppressors once; no, he wants to control everything about them, basically putting them in the place that adolescent Heathcliff was forced in by Hindley. This is why he marries Isabella, so he can become Edgar’s heir, and it’s clearly why he wants guardianship of Hareton. He says so himself at the end of Chapter 17, when Nelly comes to collect Hareton back to Thrushcross Grange:

“Now, my bonny lad, you are mine! And we’ll see if one tree won’t grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it!” (172)

Heathcliff

Nelly, who views Heathcliff as a nightmare, described his presence perfectly back in Chapter 10:

“His visits were a continual nightmare to me; and, I suspected, to my master also. His abode at the Heights was an oppression past explaining. I felt that God had forsaken the stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an evil beast prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring and destroy” (98)

‘Evil Beast’ and ‘Heathcliff’ are names I should use interchangeably from now on.

So, by the end of Chapter 17 Heathcliff has returned for a year, and in that time he ran off and eloped with Isabella, whom he then tormented until she finally flees, he fights with Edgar, which causes Catherine to became ill and later die during childbirth, and if that’s not enough, it also appears that Heathcliff is responsible for Hindley finally drinking himself to death sooner rather than later.

But this section isn’t all bad. Heathcliff speaks some of those heart-wrenching romantic lines I enjoy for some reason, like when he discloses to Nelly that he would never have harmed Edgar or “touched a single hair of his head” (136) because it would cause Catherine to suffer. Although Heathcliff would have killed Edgar the moment Catherine stopped caring for him, the fact is that Edgar physically assaulted Heathcliff, and not the other way around. Maybe this is supposed to convince us that Heathcliff genuinely and selflessly loves Catherine? I’m not going to agree with that until I finish this novel–nothing is for certain at this point except that Heathcliff is still seeking revenge!

What do you think of Heathcliff’s revenge thus far? Do you sympathize with him or do you want to chuck your book at his head? And whose story is the saddest so far: Hindley’s, Isabella’s, Edgar’s, or Catherine & Heathcliff’s?

[Also, if your edition does not include a translation for Joseph’s speeches (which I’ve stopped trying to decipher on my own), this is a great site to refer to: http://www.wuthering-heights.co.uk/josephs-speech.php It also has a lot of other interesting resources to check out.]