Study Guide

Wuthering Heights Quotes

  • Foreignness and the Other

    Chapter 1

    But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire [...] (1.15)

    Heathcliff's appearance reveals both his ambiguous racial background and his attempt to elevate himself socially. At this point in his life, he has transcended his background and gained control of both properties.

    Chapter 4

    I was frightened, and Mrs. Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors: she did fly up, asking how he could fashion to bring that gipsy brat into the house, when they had their own bairns to feed and fend for? (4.46)

    Mr. Earnshaw's addition to the family is unwelcome even by his wife, who may suspect more than we know. Is the child his? Has he been cheating on her off in Liverpool? Either way, she is no more welcoming of the child than are Catherine and Hindley. But because Mr. Earnshaw dies so early in the novel, we never get any sense of his motivation for bringing Heathcliff back to the Heights.

    Chapter 5
    Hindley Earnshaw

    "Take my colt, Gipsy, then!" said young Earnshaw. "And I pray that he may break your neck: take him, and he damned, you beggarly interloper! and wheedle my father out of all he has: only afterwards show him what you are, imp of Satan." (5.65)

    Even as a child, Hindley sees Heathcliff as a threat to his inheritance. But it is actually the way he treats Heathcliff that creates the orphan's drive to steal the inheritance. If Hindley had accepted him, things might have gone differently.

    Chapter 6
    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "We don't in general take to foreigners here, Mr. Lockwood, unless they take to us first." (6.7)

    Isolated villagers like to remain just that. What's telling about this statement is that "foreigners" seem to be anyone not from Gimmerton. It's not like Frances or Heathcliff are from another country; these people just aren't too fond of difference.

    Edgar Linton

    "But who is this? Where did she pick up this companion? Oho! I declare he is that strange acquisition my late neighbour made, in his journey to Liverpool—a little Lascar, or an American or Spanish castaway." (6.40)

    Heathcliff's foreign appearance is interpreted in many different ways. Like Nelly, Mr. Linton imagines a variety of exotic backgrounds for Heathcliff.

    Isabella Linton

    The cowardly children crept nearer also, Isabella lisping—"Frightful thing! Put him in the cellar, papa. He's exactly like the son of the fortune-teller that stole my tame pheasant. Isn't he, Edgar?" (6.36)

    Isabella Linton associates Heathcliff's racial background with criminal types. Is this what later attracts her to him? Hmm…

    Chapter 7
    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "You're fit for a prince in disguise. Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen, each of them able to buy up, with one week's income, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange together? And you were kidnapped by wicked sailors and brought to England." (7.44)

    With her love of stories, Nelly Dean inadvertently plants ideas in Heathcliff's head. Here are the seeds of his revenge against Hindley and Edgar.

    Chapter 8

    Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect. (8.53)

    Edgar and Heathcliff present two opposing images, each of which appeals to a different part of Catherine. What's suggestive here is how closely the description of Edgar resembles the location of Thrushcross Grange.

    Chapter 10

    It was a deep voice, and foreign in tone; yet there was something in the manner of pronouncing my name which made it sound familiar. (10.18)

    Heathcliff has changed, but he retains his essential foreignness. Why he would have a foreign accent is anyone's guess. No matter what he does, Heathcliff is just plain different.

    "Now continue the history of Mr. Heathcliff, from where you left off, to the present day. Did he finish his education on the Continent, and come back a gentleman? or did he get a sizar's place at college, or escape to America, and earn honours by drawing blood from his foster-country? or make a fortune more promptly on the English highways?" (10.8)

    Foreign-looking by birth, Heathcliff's three-year absence compels speculation about travel to faraway travels. How did he get so much money? Where did he learn his sophisticated ways? All we know is that he has gone from being just plain Heathcliff to Mr. Heathcliff.

  • Family

    Chapter 2

    [Lockwood:] I began to feel unmistakably out of place in that pleasant family circle. (2.63)

    No matter how insightful he believes he is, Lockwood ultimately remains an outsider to the scene he describes. Nonetheless, he believes he has a chance with the young Catherine. The question is: knowing what he knows, why would be want to marry into this family? What does that tell us about him as a narrator?

    Chapter 3

    The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled up in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the paint. This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in all kinds of characters, large and small—Catherine Earnshaw, here and there varied to Catherine Heathcliff, and then again to Catherine Linton. (3.7)

    Catherine's entire story is cryptically recorded on the ledge of her bed. She will become Catherine Linton, as she fantasizes about as a young girl, but it is her daughter who becomes Catherine Heathcliff.

    Chapter 4

    "I see the house at Wuthering Heights has 'Earnshaw' carved over the front door. Are they an old family?"

    "Very old, sir; and Hareton is the last of them, as our Miss Cathy is of us—I mean, of the Lintons." (4.27)

    What becomes of these two family lines is one of the main concerns of the novel. As Nelly explains this piece of family history, she lets it slip how much she sees herself as one of the Lintons. This suggests that there may be some bias in her narrative.

    They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room; and I had no more sense, so I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might he gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. This was Heathcliff's first introduction to the family. (4.50)

    Our "trusty" narrator, Nelly, participated in the Earnshaw family's rejection of the young foundling Heathcliff. Again, Nelly reveals little clues about the kind of narrator she is and how she may be more sympathetic to the Lintons.

    Chapter 11

    "Tell us where you got your lessons, and you shall have it," said I.

    "Who's your master?"

    "Devil daddy," was his answer. (11.18-19)

    Hindley is too much of a mess to even treat his own son with any decency. Between Hindley and Heathcliff, Hareton is raised like an abused animal, so the fact that he grows up to be decent is truly surprising.

    Chapter 18

    And from what I heard, Joseph contributed much to his deterioration, by a narrow-minded partiality which prompted him to flatter and pet [Hareton], as a boy, because he was the head of the old family. (18.78)

    Though in the background, Joseph has his own role in perpetuating the drama. So it's not only Heathcliff and Hindley doing a poor job of raising Hareton—Joseph, a fairly minor character, plays a role too.

    Catherine Linton Heathcliff

    "Oh, Ellen! don't let them say such things," she pursued in great trouble. "Papa is gone to fetch my cousin from London: my cousin is a gentleman's son. That my—" she stopped, and wept outright; upset at the bare notion of relationship with such a clown. (18.72)

    Upon first meeting her cousin, young Cathy allows status anxiety to guide her treatment of Hareton. Like her mother, Cathy wants to belong to the right people. What she doesn't realize yet is that Hareton is in fact the rightful owner of Wuthering Heights.

    Chapter 20

    My son is prospective owner of your place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his successor. Besides, he's mine, and I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly lord of their estates; my child hiring their children to till their fathers' lands for wages. That is the sole consideration which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate him for the memories he revives! (20.43)

    Linton Heathcliff is merely a pawn in his father's grand scheme for revenge. Like the two houses that Heathcliff covets, Linton is a piece of property.

    Chapter 25
    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "These things happened last winter, sir," said Mrs. Dean; "hardly more than a year ago. Last winter, I did not think, at another twelve months' end, I should be amusing a stranger to the family with relating them! Yet, who knows how long you'll be a stranger?" (25.1)

    Nelly indulges Lockwood's fantasy that he actually has a chance with Cathy Heathcliff. Why she does this is unclear. What's even stranger is that Nelly would think that this union would be a good idea. These people don't seem to marry outside the family.

    Chapter 27

    I shall be your father, to-morrow—all the father you'll have in a few days—and you shall have plenty of that. (27.61)

    Heathcliff's promise of fatherhood spells misery and certain abuse for his soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Here, as elsewhere in the novel, family roles are very confused. Heathcliff was a brother but never really treated like one—nor acted like one. Now he will be a "father" who acts like no father should.

  • The Supernatural

    Chapter 3

    I suppose that she wanted to get another proof that the place was haunted, at my expense. Well, it is—swarming with ghosts and goblins! You have reason in shutting it up, I assure you. No one will thank you for a doze in such a den! (3.67)

    Once again, Lockwood reveals his gross inability to accurately assess a situation. The ghost he has just encountered is much more than a creepy creature, and Heathcliff envies him for having touched Catherine's icy hand. As usual, Lockwood is unable to see the situation outside of how it affects him.

    I obeyed, so far as to quit the chamber; when, ignorant where the narrow lobbies led, I stood still, and was witness, involuntarily, to a piece of superstition on the part of my landlord which belied, oddly, his apparent sense. (3.81)

    Heathcliff cannot hide his anguish even from his new tenant. This moment is one of the few in which Heathcliff expresses sorrow without rage.


    [. . .] knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch: instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand. The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, "Let me in—let me in!" (3.45)

    Lockwood discovers his first night at Wuthering Heights that all is not normal there. But one central question is, is the ghost real or a figment of Lockwood's imagination?

    Chapter 9

    I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine had an unusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something from which I might shape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful catastrophe. (9.85)

    Nelly reveals a bit about herself in her anxiety over Catherine's odd behavior. But, as with other examples, she also tells us a bit about her character and thus the nature of her narration. She, like the Gimmerton villagers, is a little irrational (and paranoid).

    Chapter 12

    It's a rough journey, and a sad heart to travel it; and we must pass by Gimmerton Kirk to go that journey! We've braved its ghosts often together, and dared each other to stand among the graves and ask them to come. (12.52)

    As children, Catherine and Heathcliff feared nothing—though violence and rage were everyday experiences. The ghosts that children usually fear were not scary to them because they had each other. Later Heathcliff will yearn for Catherine's ghost to haunt him.

    Chapter 16

    "Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! 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!" (16.25)

    To Heathcliff, a life without love is not worth living. In this brief speech, he reveals his anger toward Catherine, which is rare. Usually his rage is directed at any one but Catherine.

    Chapter 29

    I have a strong faith in ghosts: I have a conviction that they can, and do, exist among us! (29.24)

    Heathcliff feels Catherine's reach beyond the grave, which holds out the promise that their love doesn't have to die. Brontë really mixes up Gothic conventions by creating a character who wants ghosts to exist.

    Chapter 34

    "They won't do that," he replied: "if they did, you must have me removed secretly; and if you neglect it you shall prove, practically, that the dead are not annihilated!" (34.81)

    If Heathcliff is not buried next to Catherine, he will plague those who refuse his request. Here it is Heathcliff and not Catherine who will be a ghost. And he knows that pretty much everyone else is afraid of ghosts.

    "Is he a ghoul or a vampire?" I mused. I had read of such hideous incarnate demons. And then I set myself to reflect how I had tended him in infancy, and watched him grow to youth, and followed him almost through his whole course; and what absurd nonsense it was to yield to that sense of horror. "But where did he come from, the little dark thing, harboured by a good man to his bane?" muttered Superstition, as I dozed into unconsciousness. (34.46)

    Nelly is torn between the Heathcliff she helped raise and the brute he has become. Her memories of him as a child prevent her from believing that he is a truly dark character. Still, she struggles against her tendency toward superstition.

    But the country folks, if you ask them, would swear on the Bible that he walks: there are those who speak to having met him near the church, and on the moor, and even within this house. (34.99)

    Is he dead or isn't he? Keep in mind that throughout the novel Brontë makes little suggestions that the villagers are superstitious, so these sightings may be fantasy after all.

  • Revenge

    Chapter 3

    He [Hindley] has been blaming our father (how dared he?) for treating H. [Heathcliff] too liberally; and swears he will reduce him to his right place. (3.30)

    Hindley started the whole revenge cycle by mistreating Heathcliff in the first place. His envy of Mr. Earnshaw's love for the orphan sets off a chain reaction of abuse and mistreatment.

    Chapter 4

    So, from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house; and at Mrs. Earnshaw's death, which happened in less than two years after, the young master had learned to regard his father as an oppressor rather than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his parent's affections and his privileges; and he grew bitter with brooding over these injuries. (4.55)

    Hindley's resentment has a very clear beginning. Before Heathcliff arrives, Hindley is clearly the young man of the house, and he does not easily give up this privilege.

    Chapter 6

    [. . .] they forgot everything the minute they were together again: at least the minute they had contrived some naughty plan of revenge. (6.11)

    Catherine helped make the misery more bearable for Heathcliff. She is not only his friend and sister, but his co-conspirator in revenge. Clearly Heathcliff was unwilling to sit back and accept poor treatment, even as a child.

    Chapter 7

    I'm trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do! (7.69)

    Even early on, Heathcliff's desire for revenge competes with his love for Catherine. Revenge is one of the emotions that drives Heathcliff and gives him a reason to live. The fact that Hindley dies before Heathcliff allows him to inherit Wuthering Heights.

    Chapter 9

    It expressed, plainer than words could do, the intensest anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own revenge. (9.12)

    Rescuing Hareton from death, Heathcliff recognizes that his instincts prevented the perfect punishment for Hindley—the death of his heir. Because he rescues Hareton, Heathcliff has to work a lot harder to get back at Hindley.

    Chapter 10

    I meditated this plan—just to have one glimpse of your face, a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure; afterwards settle my score with Hindley. (10.60)

    Heathcliff is driven unequally by two aims: love and vengeance. Catherine knows that Hindley deserves Heathcliff's vengeance (because she was a victim of it as a child), and so she never intervenes on his behalf.

    Chapter 11

    "I seek no revenge on you," replied Heathcliff, less vehemently. "That's not the plan. The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don't turn against him; they crush those beneath them." (11.51)

    Though Catherine perhaps deserves punishment for turning against him, Heathcliff would do no such thing. What's notable here is that Heathcliff recognizes a pecking order: people pick on those beneath them.

    Chapter 13
    Hindley Earnshaw

    "Oh, damnation! I will have it back; and I'll have his gold too; and then his blood; and hell shall have his soul! It will be ten times blacker with that guest than ever it was before!" (13.63)

    Hindley loses everything to Heathcliff but must partly blame his own weaknesses and indulgence. He aspires to rob Heathcliff of everything and, like a devil figure, even wants his soul.

    Chapter 17

    He had the hypocrisy to represent a mourner: and previous to following with Hareton, he lifted the unfortunate child on to the table and muttered, with peculiar gusto, "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!" (17.119)

    With Hindley dead, Hareton is left to suffer under Heathcliff. Like others who fall victim to Heathcliff's abuse, Hareton is a proxy for his father. That Hareton breaks the cycle is a reflection of his love for Catherine and his own strength of character.

    Chapter 33

    It is a poor conclusion, is it not . . . An absurd termination to my violent exertions? I get levers and mattocks to demolish the two houses, and train myself to be capable of working like Hercules, and when everything is ready, and in my power, I find the will to lift a slate off either roof has vanished! My old enemies have 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 can't take the trouble to raise my hand! That sounds as if I had been labouring the whole time, only to exhibit a fine trait of magnanimity. It is far from being the case—I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing. (33.59)

    All of the scheming, anger, and brutality have finally exhausted Heathcliff. At the culmination of his plot, he no longer has the desire to see it through. As a result, the spell is broken, and peace can return to Wuthering Heights.

  • Suffering

    Chapter 3

    Heathcliff gradually fell back into the shelter of the bed as I spoke, finally sitting down almost concealed behind it. I guessed, however, by his irregular and intercepted breathing, that he struggled to vanquish an access to violent emotion. (3.74)

    Heathcliff yearns to believe in Lockwood's vision of a ghostly Catherine. He is so physically overcome by emotion that he can't even be angry at Lockwood for sleeping in the bed.

    Chapter 7
    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "Don't get the expression of a vicious cur that appears to know the kicks it gets are its desert, and yet, hates all the world, as well as the kicker, for what it suffers." (7.42)

    Good advice, Nelly, but it's lost on the vengeful Heathcliff. Still, she tries, and this is an important moment. Though Heathcliff has no mentor (see "Character Roles"), Nelly makes an attempt here to provide some useful guidance. (Plus, the dog metaphor is a good one for that house!)

    Chapter 9

    "I never saw Heathcliff last night," answered Catherine, beginning to sob bitterly: "and if you do turn him out of doors, I'll go with him. But, perhaps, you'll never have an opportunity: perhaps, he's gone." Here she burst into uncontrollable grief, and the remainder of her words were inarticulate. (9.145)

    Though unwilling to treat him well, Catherine is bereft the very moment Heathcliff departs. She lacks the sort of self-awareness that would lead her to see that much of this mess is her fault.

    "Nay, you'll not drive me off again. You were really sorry for me, were you? Well, there was cause. I've fought through a bitter life since I last heard your voice; and you must forgive me, for I struggled only for you!" (10.60)

    At least all of his suffering has meaning. This confession is one of Heathcliff's most romantic, in a twisted sense, because everything he does is for Catherine.

    "And I like her too ill to attempt it," said he, "except in a very ghoulish fashion. You'd hear of odd things if I lived alone with that mawkish, waxen face: the most ordinary would be painting on its white the colours of the rainbow, and turning the blue eyes black, every day or two: they detestably resemble Linton's." (10.121)

    Heathcliff is fantasizing about physically abusing his wife. What's really disturbing is how poetically he describes his desire to hurt her. His choice of words suggests that he has really given some thought to what he wants to do.

    "And, Nelly, say to Edgar, if you see him again to-night, that I'm in danger of being seriously ill. I wish it may prove true. He has startled and distressed me shockingly! I want to frighten him." (11.80)

    Because Edgar will never suffer as much as Catherine would like, she will never love him as much as he would like. Edgar's cool-headedness is one of the qualities that sets him apart from Heathcliff.

    She had no breath for speaking. I brought a glass full; and as she would not drink, I sprinkled it on her face. In a few seconds she stretched herself out stiff, and turned up her eyes, while her cheeks, at once blanched and livid, assumed the aspect of death. Linton looked terrified. (11.90)

    What begins partly as a charade becomes full-blown affliction and, ultimately, death for Catherine. Her death is quite a visual spectacle. Finally, she gets a reaction from Linton, who realizes what he is about to lose.

    "He told me of Catherine's illness, and accused my brother of causing it; promising that I should be Edgar's proxy in suffering, till he could get hold of him." (14.103)

    Isabella will receive the punishment that Heathcliff intends for Edgar. In the end, everyone is a victim of Heathcliff's rage. Isabella's remark here suggests that Heathcliff is in denial about the real reason for his rage.

    "Is it not sufficient for your infernal selfishness, that while you are at peace I shall writhe in the torments of hell?" (15.28)

    As if Catherine could ever rest in peace. Even if she could, Heathcliff would not want her to. He actually wants her to suffer with him, because that means she loves him as much as he loves her.

    "Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! 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!" (16.25)

    Heathcliff turns Catherine's accusations into a strange sort of love poem. He is willing to call himself her murderer if it means that she will haunt him.

  • Love

    Chapter 5

    She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from him: yet she got chided more than any of us on his account. (5.10)

    For Catherine and Heathcliff, love and punishment will always intermingle. Theirs is a tormented love that would probably not do well under peaceful circumstances. They seem to thrive on drama.

    Chapter 8

    The soft thing looked askance through the window: he possessed the power to depart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten. Ah, I thought, there will be no saving him: he's doomed, and flies to his fate! . . . I saw the quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy—had broken the outworks of youthful timidity, and enabled them to forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselves lovers. (8.87)

    With Edgar and Catherine—as with most relationships in Wuthering Heights—violence and desire go hand-in-hand. Edgar is so taken with Catherine that he refuses to heed the warnings of her troubled behavior. In this sense, he shares one thing with Heathcliff: a masochistic attraction to drama.

    Chapter 9

    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. So don't talk of our separation again: it is impracticable. (9.101)

    To Catherine, she and Heathcliff are one and the same; thus marriage to Edgar does not mean leaving the man she really loves. That Heathcliff sees her marriage as a betrayal is what ultimately divides them.

    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. (9.92)

    Though she loves him as her own being, Catherine sees Heathcliff as beneath her compared to the social promise of marriage to Edgar. It's hard to reconcile such profound love with the choice she makes, but somehow she manages to work out the logic in her head.

    Chapter 10

    His new source of trouble sprang from the not anticipated misfortune of Isabella Linton evincing a sudden and irresistible attraction towards the tolerated guest. (10.82)

    Isabella's love for Heathcliff is one of Edgar's biggest nightmares. As children, he and Isabella had mocked Heathcliff together. Edgar still treats the adopted Heathcliff as one of the servant class.

    Chapter 12
    Catherine Linton Heathcliff

    "Oh, I will die," she exclaimed, "since no one cares anything about me. I wish I had not taken that." Then a good while after I heard her murmur, "No, I'll not die—he'd be glad—he does not love me at all—he would never miss me!" (12.6)

    Catherine enjoys engineering the romantic dramas in her life. She yearns to provoke Edgar into a frenzy of concern, but he will never be as tormented as she would like.

    "We've braved its ghosts often together, and dared each other to stand among the graves and ask them to come. But, Heathcliff, if I dare you now, will you venture? If you do, I'll keep you. I'll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never will!" (12.52)

    Not even the divide between life and death will keep Catherine and Heathcliff apart. Had he heard her say these words, he would have been comforted. Being haunted by her is his greatest wish after she dies.

    Chapter 14

    Two words would comprehend my future—death and hell: existence, after losing her, would be hell. Yet I was a fool to fancy for a moment that she valued Edgar Linton's attachment more than mine. If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in a day. (14.23)

    Life without Catherine is not worth living. The only emotion that begins to compensate for Heathcliff's loss is bitterness. Despite her unfortunate choice for a husband, Heathcliff knows that Edgar is incapable of loving her the way he does.

    Chapter 15

    "Are you possessed with a devil," he pursued, savagely, "to talk in that manner to me when you are dying? Do you reflect that all those words will be branded in my memory, and eating deeper eternally after you have left me? You know you lie to say I have killed you: and, Catherine, you know that I could as soon forget you as my existence!" (15.25)

    Catherine torments Heathcliff until he day she dies—and beyond. Importantly, this moment is the only time that Heathcliff confronts Catherine on her behavior.

    Chapter 21
    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "'Loving!' cried I, as scornfully as I could utter the word. 'Loving!' Did anybody ever hear the like! I might just as well talk of loving the miller who comes once a year to buy our corn. Pretty loving, indeed! and both times together you have seen Linton hardly four hours in your life! Now here is the babyish trash. I'm going with it to the library; and we'll see what your father says to such loving." (21.140)

    Nelly Dean tries to knock some sense into Cathy regarding her affair with Linton Heathcliff. It's interesting to note how gutsy Nelly is in the way she talks to Cathy. After all, Nelly is a housekeeper and Cathy is the master's daughter.

    Chapter 32

    The intimacy thus commenced grew rapidly; though it encountered temporary interruptions. Earnshaw was not to be civilized with a wish; and my young lady was no philosopher, and no paragon of patience; but both their minds tending to the same point—one loving and desiring to esteem, and the other loving and desiring to be esteemed—they contrived in the end to reach it. (32.110)

    With all the reasons in the world to dislike each other, Cathy and Hareton still fall in love. Their mutual sympathy changes the tone of the novel and allows for something of a happy ending.


    "Come in! come in!" he sobbed. "Cathy, do come. Oh, do—once more! Oh! My heart's darling, hear me this time—Catherine, at last!" (3.83)

    Just a glimpse of Catherine would assuage the long-suffering Heathcliff, who believes in communication beyond the grave. He is far from afraid of ghosts and has clearly spent a lot of time trying to get Catherine to haunt him.

  • Society and Class

    Chapter 6

    Mr. Hindley came home to the funeral; and—a thing that amazed us, and set the neighbours gossiping right and left—he brought a wife with him. What she was, and where she was born, he never informed us: probably, she had neither money nor name to recommend her, or he would scarcely have kept the union from his father. (6.1-2)

    Frances joins the unwelcoming Earnshaw clan. Though unknown and without family or fortune (just like Heathcliff), she has managed to win Hindley's affections. Curiously, this is one of the only mentions of neighbors. Who knew there was anyone else out there on the moors?

    He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm. (6.9)

    Hindley's project to punish his father's favorite begins as soon as the old man dies. To make Heathcliff a farmhand, bereft of education (instructions), is to put him in the lowest possible position. The gentry never work with their hands.

    Chapter 7

    [. . .] instead of a wild, hatless little savage jumping into the house, and rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there 'lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was obliged to hold up with both hands that she might sail in. (7.1)

    After staying at Thrushcross Grange, the untamed Catherine has become a changed woman, now superior to the lowly Heathcliff. This is the future Catherine Linton, now forever out of reach to Heathcliff.

    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "Were I in your place, I would frame high notions of my birth; and the thoughts of what I was should give me courage and dignity to support the oppressions of a little farmer!" (7.44)

    Since he doesn't know where he is from, Heathcliff may as well imagine a noble and exotic background for himself. This piece of advice represents one of a handful of Nelly's attempts to provide useful guidance for Heathcliff. It also tells us that she likes a little fiction.

    Chapter 9

    [Hindley] wished earnestly to see her bring honour to the family by an alliance with the Lintons, and as long as she let him alone she might trample on us like slaves, for aught he cared! (9.152)

    Hindley has designs on the Lintons' social status. Nelly resents the treatment she receives from Catherine. Nelly (who is speaking here) may not be a slave, but she is a servant—yet more often than not she acts like a family member.

    "I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now." (9.92)

    Catherine realizes that Edgar is out of her league, but that doesn't stop her. As a child she ignored everyone else's dislike of Heathcliff, but now she allows Hindley's attitude and treatment of him to change how she feels. In that sense, Hindley really gets what he wants.

    Chapter 10

    A half-civilized ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified: quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace. (10.53)

    Though still swarthy, Heathcliff is a changed man. Gone for three years, he returns with some grooming and social graces. Clearly he has been working hard on improving himself—but that hasn't changed his overall attitude.

    Her brother, who loved her tenderly, was appalled at this fantastic preference. Leaving aside the degradation of an alliance with a nameless man, and the possible fact that his property, in default of heirs male, might pass into such a one's power. . . . (10.82)

    Heathcliff's aim to captivate Isabella torments Edgar. Because Edgar does not have a son, Isabella's marriage to Heathcliff means that Thrushcross Grange will eventually belong to the orphan outsider.

    Catherine Earnshaw Linton

    "Tell her what Heathcliff is: an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone." (10.98)

    Catherine's warnings about Heathcliff only stoke the fire of Isabella's desire. And, to be honest, all of the qualities she cites to get Isabella to change her mind are the very things that Catherine loves in Heathcliff.

  • Betrayal

    Chapter 9
    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "Have you considered how you'll bear the separation, and how he'll bear to be quite deserted in the world?" (9.98)

    Catherine can hardly think beyond her own desires. Nelly makes a futile attempt to defend Heathcliff here. She knows that if Catherine marries Edgar, it isn't going to be pretty.

    Chapter 11

    "What is it to you?" he growled. "I have a right to kiss her, if she chooses, and you have no right to object. I am not your husband: you needn't be jealous of me!" (11.45)

    Just because Heathcliff's not her husband doesn't mean Catherine won't act jealous and possessive of him. In this moment, it's hard not to be on Heathcliff's side.

    "I want you to be aware that I know you have treated me infernally—infernally! Do you hear? And if you flatter yourself that I don't perceive it, you are a fool; and if you think I can be consoled by sweet words, you are an idiot." (11.49)

    Though he knows he has been cruelly treated, Heathcliff cannot help but love Catherine. As readers we have waited for the moment that Heathcliff gets in Catherine's face about her behavior.

    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    There was another rapid glance at the house, and supposing himself unseen, the scoundrel had the impudence to embrace her.

    "Judas! Traitor!" I ejaculated. "You are a hypocrite, too, are you? A deliberate deceiver."

    "Who is, Nelly?" said Catherine's voice at my elbow: I had been over-intent on watching the pair outside to mark her entrance.

    "Your worthless friend!" I answered, warmly, "the sneaking rascal yonder. Ah, he has caught a glimpse of us—he is coming in! I wonder will he have the heart to find a plausible excuse for making love to Miss, when he told you he hated her?" (11.36-39)

    Heathcliff's plot against Edgar begins, and Isabella becomes his willing dupe. Nelly doesn't exactly maintain calm in the situation. Look at her language—she clearly wants to provoke Catherine. And who exactly is the other hypocrite to which she refers here?

    Chapter 14

    "She abandoned [her home] under a delusion," he answered, "picturing in me a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my chivalrous devotion." (14.35)

    Like many others in the story, Isabella is influenced by all the novels she reads. She has certainly changed her opinion of Heathcliff from when they were children.

    And then I remembered Mr. Edgar's stern rebuke of my carrying tales; and I tried to smooth away all disquietude on the subject, by affirming, with frequent iteration, that that betrayal of trust, if it merited so harsh an appellation, should be the last. (14.47)

    Nelly tries to abide by her master's dictates, but her sympathy to lovers is greater than perhaps even she will admit. Again, why would she continue to go to the Heights and introduce Heathcliff to young Catherine?

    Chapter 15

    "You teach me now how cruel you've been—cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears: they'll blight you—they'll damn you. You loved me—then what right had you to leave me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?" (15.37)

    In other words, you have no one to blame but yourself. But Catherine never really sees it that way. And though she continues to love Heathcliff, running away with him is never an option—nor does he ask her to. Why?

    Chapter 21
    Ellen "Nelly" Dean

    "The harm of it is, that her father [Edgar] would hate me if he found I suffered [Cathy] to enter your house; and I am convinced you have a bad design in encouraging her to do so." (21.36)

    Nelly clues in to Heathcliff's ill intent, but that doesn't stop her from being suckered into going back to the Heights.

    Chapter 24

    Mr. Linton was alarmed and distressed, more than he would acknowledge to me. In the morning, Catherine learnt my betrayal of her confidence, and she learnt also that her secret visits were to end. (24.84)

    It is never entirely clear where Nelly's loyalties and intentions reside. Is she afraid to say no to Catherine? Does she actually enjoy the drama up at the Heights? Think about it!

    Chapter 27

    "Oh!" he sobbed, "I cannot bear it! Catherine, Catherine, I'm a traitor, too, and I dare not tell you! But leave me, and I shall be killed! Dear Catherine, my life is in your hands: and you have said you loved me, and if you did, it wouldn't harm you. You'll not go, then? kind, sweet, good Catherine! And perhaps you will consent—and he'll let me die with you!" (27.16)

    Linton Heathcliff can no longer hide his profound fear of his own father. The worst part is that he wants Catherine to sacrifice herself for him because he is too much of a wuss.