Study Guide

Wuthering Heights Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

  • Nelly tends to the new baby while Edgar keeps to his room.
  • Isabella shows up, having run all the way from Wuthering Heights in the snow. Nelly tends to Isabella's cuts and bruises. Isabella throws her wedding ring into the fire, though it is clear that she would go back to Heathcliff if he showed even the slightest interest in her.
  • Isabella tells Nelly that she plans to escape from Heathcliff because "He's not a human being" (17.18).
  • Isabella takes over the narrative again, telling Nelly about Heathcliff's recent behavior. One night, Hindley locks Heathcliff out of the house and shows Isabella his gun again, resolving to murder Heathcliff. Isabella shouts out a warning to Heathcliff. Heathcliff bursts into the house and beats the living daylights out of Hindley. The next morning he looks a mess. He broods in the corner, paying no attention to Hindley or Isabella until she provokes him by talking about Catherine. He hurls a knife at her.
  • Isabella ends her visit with Nelly and leaves the Grange, never to return.
  • Nelly describes Edgar's mourning after Catherine's death and the deep affection he develops for baby Catherine, whom he calls Cathy—a nickname he never used with his wife.
  • Six months after Catherine's death, Hindley finally dies too. Mr. Kenneth, the hardworking doctor, reports the details to Nelly: Hindley died a drunkard at the age of twenty-seven.
  • Now Nelly is really worried about Hareton living up at the Heights alone with crazy Uncle Heathcliff.
  • Going up there to arrange Hindley's funeral, Nelly witnesses two triumphs for Heathcliff, who announces to Hareton, "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). In other words, Heathcliff plans to run Hareton into the ground by giving him the same treatment he (Heathcliff) received from Hindley. Heathcliff is now master of Wuthering Heights, which Hindley mortgaged to finance his gambling habit. Hareton inherits nothing.

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