Wuthering Heights: Chapterwise summary and analysis – 1

Wuthering Heights Chapterwise Summary and Analysis: Chapter 1 to 11

Chapter 1 :

The novel opens with a  description of the main settings ’Wuthering Heights’ and main character Heathcliff by Lockwood, the primary narrator of the novel. The date is the beginning of the nineteenth century.  Lockwood finds the natural settings of his new hideout very attractive.  He reaches Wuthering Heights to call on Heathcliff  for an introduction but does not find the man or the environment at his abode welcome. Heathcliff lets him in half heartedly and Lockwood feels some aggression in him and stern behaviour. The attitude of Heathcliff and other inhabitants makes him feel far more sociable. Once inside, he appreciates the carvings at the front of the building. The house seemed to be built in 1500 and bore the name Hareton Earnshaw.  The sitting room included the kitchen and parlour where some guns decorated the wall and a female pointer sat under an arch under the dresser.

Lockwood did not yet have a chance to peep deeper into Heathcliff’s personality. He recounted an incident at the beach where his shy behaviour had bored a beautiful girl into deserting the location who was camped there with her mother. While remembering the incident, he tried to get friendly with the pointer and received  an unfriendly snarl in return. Heathcliff asked him to avoid any contact with the canines of the house. However, as soon as Heathcliff left, Lockwood made the mistake of aping the bitch which made an entire pack furious and they pounced upon him from all corners of the house. Heathcliff returned and rebuked the villains for teasing the guest. Lockwood was frustrated but did his best to contain his frustration. Heathcliff offered him some wine and went on to tell him about the place where he was going to reside. As he was ready to leave, he offered to visit again but received no confirmation from Heathcliff. His attitude was as if he would like to slam the door on Lockwood’s back. Again it made Lockwood feel far more sociable compared to the people at Heights.

Analysis:

The novel starts at some point in the middle of the story. A very large part of the entire story has already taken place. The first chapter forms an introduction to the main settings and the central character. Heathcliff looks different from the normal inhabitants of the area and readers also get a brief glimpse of his personality and psychology in this chapter. Lockwood lands himself in an entirely comic situation at the Heights. The author gives a brief glimpse of the settings that may be hiding bigger mysteries inside.

Chapter 2:

Bored by his lonely life at the Thrushcross Grange, Lockwood started for the Heights the next day again.  By the time he reached there, snow had started falling and his limbs were feeling the chill. Nobody came out even after knocking hard for long and he grew frustrated. Suddenly, Joseph’s head popped out from nowhere asking him to go as master was not there. Snow was growing thick when another man from inside the house appeared to open the door and bode him in. Once inside he found a young woman sitting by the fire. She was even less talkative than the other members. The pointer seemed to be less hostile today as she gave a familiar wag with her tail. Lockwood tried to talk to the lady but got a repelling reply. His every attempt to start a polite conversation proved futile. She had started to make tea when she asked if he was invited for it. Upon knowing not, she flung back everything and got back in her chair.

Lockwood kept coming across surprises. Heathcliff soon entered and ordered the young lady to make tea.  He had mistaken the young lady to be his wife and enquired to clarify but got to learn that she was not. So, he thought the shabby man who opened the doors was Junior Heathcliff and she was his wife. However, it turned out the man was not Junior Heathcliff but Hareton Earnshaw who was angry that she had been mistaken for his wife. Having eaten, Lockwood looked out of the window to find it was growing dark. He was irritated that how he would go back. He was alone in the room with the lady when Joseph, the old servant entered and started cursing. The lady replied before Lockwood could grow more enraged and cursed the servant so heavily he ran out afraid. Lockwood wanted to return and tried to find some help from the inmates but got none. Heathcliff was not ready to let some stranger stay overnight.  Getting not much help, Lockwood grew agitated and seized the lantern that Joseph was using to open the door. Joseph started cursing and ordered the dogs to stop him. The villainous beasts pounced upon Lockwood. However, the dogs did not intend to harm him but they had done sufficient damage to the man’s self respect. Lockwood cursed and Zillah, the housemaid came out of  nowhere who silenced everyone and took care of Lockwood.

Analysis:

On the second day too, Lockwood did not discover anything familiar or sociable about the inmates of Wuthering Heights. However, he got to know a few more members of the house including Heathcliff’s widow daughter in law and Hareton Earnshaw. This again proved a fateless day and he was attacked by the dogs once again. Helpless Lockwood would have to pass the night at Heights against his wish. The mystery of the Heights deepens in this chapter. It also highlights the important role weather plays in setting the gloomy mood of the novel.

Chapter 3:

This is one of the most important initial chapters from where the real action begins. Zilla lays Lockwood in a mysterious room and asks him not to make any noise. Her master would not let anyone enter this room. Inside, Lockwood finds a notebook bearing the name of Catherine. The name varied from Catherine Earnshaw to Catherine Linton here and there. She had noted accounts of Hindley’s torture in the notebook and how he ill-treated her and Heathcliff often after the death of their father. She noted how he called Heathcliff a vagabond and tortured them often joined by Joseph. They are not allowed to play and Hindley punishes them at the slightest excuse.  While reading, Lockwood had started feeling drowsy and his eyes wandered from manuscript to print where it was written ‘Seventy Times Seven, and the First of the Seventy-First.’ A Pious Discourse delivered by the Reverend Jabez Branderham, in the Chapel of Gimmerden Sough.’

Suddenly, he fell asleep and started dreaming. In his dream he was in the chapel with Joseph where Branderham was delivering his solemn speech. Branderham accused him of having committed the deadly sin and orders the crowd to execute him. He woke up and found that a fir branch was disturbing his sleep. While trying to catch the branch his hands got hold of small arms. It was Catherine Earnshaw, the name that Lockwood had read on the notebook and she was begging to be let in as she had wandered in the moors, lost for twenty years. Lockwood yelled at the top of his voice out of fear which woke up Heathcliff. He was afraid who was inside the room. Heathcliff got angry to find Lockwood there and inquired what was it. Lockwood cursed and told the account of Catherine and then left the room as per Heathcliff’s order. He waited a little outside the door to find Heathcliff crying for Catherine and requesting her to be back. Heathcliff vented his fury on his daughter in law. It was going to be morning soon and Lockwood decided to leave. Lest he would be lost, Heathcliff gave him company till the gates of the Grange. Nelly Dean was there to welcome Lockwood.

Analysis:

The mystery unveils in this chapter and readers are introduced to the character of Catherine, one of the central characters in the novel. He also gets to know a little about the troubled childhood, she and Heathcliff had spent following their father’s death. This was another awkward day for Lockwood at the Heights and what he thought would be a peaceful paradise turned out to be tumultuous hell. He has nightmares and the situation in the novel seems to be turning gloomier with each passing chapter. Lockwood finds himself not fitting in his new environment and onlyNelly Dean can help him understand his surroundings. The author builds powerful suspense making it impossible to understand her motive behind creating such settings and characters.

Chapter 4:

Lockwood soon grew bored of keeping to himself and decided to talk to Nelly Dean. He was eager to know about Heathcliff’s past and the pretty girl widow and the most about Catherine Earnshaw. Nelly Dean had come to Thrushcross Grange with Catherine at the time of her marriage and had been here for eighteen years. He got to learn that Heathcliff was a rich and greedy man and that his son was dead.  The Hareton Earnshaw whom Lockwood saw at Wuthering Heights was poor Catherine’s nephew. Nelly Dean had known the Earnshaws since she was a kid and her mother had nursed Hindley whom Lockwood knew from the description in Catherine’s notebook. She told the story of Heathcliff’s arrival in detail. How Mr Earnshaw left for Liverpool one morning and brought back with him a homeless gypsy lad he found homeless in the streets of the town. Mrs Earnshaw did not like the black child but had to keep him for her husband wanted. Neither did Catherine or Hindley want him inside their home. Mr Earnshaw even slapped Cathy for spitting on him. Nelly Dean left him on the stairs thinking he might be gone by the morning but he somehow managed to reach Mr Earnshaw’s doors.

As a result Nelly Dean was sent out of the home for some days. When she retuned she came to know he was christened Heathcliff. He was a tough child and withstood all the ill treatment including Hindley’s blows. When Mr Earnshaw learnt about it he grew too sympathetic towards the kid treating him as his favourite and believing everything it said.  Heathcliff had brought bad feelings with him to the house. Hindley felt that his father was an oppressor and that Heathcliff was an usurper of his rights. He kept growing bitter and bitter. Meanwhile the kids fell ill with measles and it was because of Nelly Dean’s caring that Heathcliff could make through the illness. She told an account of how Heathcliff had blackmailed Hindley of his colt when his became lame by telling he would complain his father of the thrashing Hindley had given him. Hindley had let him have the colt for fear of his father but gave him a hard blow. Nelly Dean had started feeling affectionate for the little kid but she was yet to discover the darker side of him. 

Analysis:

In this chapter we get to learn of Heathcliff and Catherine’s childhood and how he got to become Mr Earnshaw’s pet child. Nelly Dean tells Lockwood everything from the day Mr Earnshaw brought the gypsy kid to how he grew up into a stubborn and tough kid who would bear ever ill-treatment. If it was not for Mr Earnshaw, life would have been a living hell for the kid. The author provides us some glimpse of the harassment Heathcliff used to bear and how it might have affected his personality during his early years. Her treatment of Heathcliff’s character puzzles. The extremity of pain Heathcliff can bear gives rise to a double picture of his personality. He is bullied and then he bullies Hindley. Till late, readers have difficulty understanding this double mystery.

Chapter 5:

Mr Earnshaw’s health started failing as he kept growing older and was confined to one corner of the house. He would grow vexed and irritated at the slightest excuse and had started thinking that everyone in the house hated him because he loved Heathcliff. It is why everyone in the house pampered Heathcliff to keep Mr Earnshaw happy and that made the black child all the more proud and stubborn. Hindley however, could not control himself. Whenever Mr Earnshaw raised his stick to strike him, he shook with fury and felt helpless to be unable to strike him. Joseph was always pampering him trying to win his trust and agitating him with his sermons reminding him of his soul’s duties.

Nelly Dean thought the old guy was cunning and agitating her master was going to cause his death. Joseph would complain of Catherine and Heathcliff to him and put the highest blame on his daughter. Catherine had kept growing a lot more mischievous and was used to making people worry for her several times a day. She had grown a lot wicked and the only best punishment that they could have invented for her was to keep her away from Heathcliff. She did not understand her father’s condition and nor why he had grown so cross in his illness. It all ended one day when Mr Earnshaw died quietly in his chair. Joseph found it out first. However, Catherine wanted to bid her father good night and soon discovered his death. Heathcliff and she wailed loudly and with them Nelly Dean. Joseph told Nelly to bring the doctor and the parson. On her return she found the kids were consoling each other sitting in their room. Nelly wished everyone’s safety.

Analysis:

This chapter brings the plot to a new turn. Mr Earnshaw’s failing health leads to his death and Catherine and Heathcliff are still kids which means the control is going to be shifted into the hands of Hindley. The author casts Joseph in this chapter as a cunning fellow who is trying to impress old Mr Earnshaw and win his favour. The  tragedy at Wuthering Heights continues. Suspense about Catherine and Heathcliff’s future deepens after their father’s death. [Continue Reading on Next Page].