Wuthering Heights: Chapterwise summary and analysis – 1

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  • Post last modified:December 10, 2019

Chapter 6:

Hindley arrived at his father’s funeral and brought with him a peculiar wife who expressed awe at everything that she saw. It seemed she had neither name and nor money behind her because Hindley revealed nothing about any of them. She started obsessing over the black dresses and preparations for cremation. However, she was pleased to see the large house and Hindley asked everyone to move to the back kitchen and leave the house to him and his wife. He had changed a lot in these three years while he was away. His wife liked Catherine and doted on her initially but soon grew tired. One single complain from her about Heathcliff was enough to raise Hindley’s fury. He even grew severe in his punishment of Heathcliff having deprived him of the education he received as well as asking Joseph to flog him for the slightest excuse.

The more severe he grew on them, the more he ended up spoiling the two. One Sunday evening they were punished again for making a noise or some similar slight excuse when they deserted the house and could not be found for hours. Hindley ordered that  they not be let into the house that night but Nelly Dean was ready to admit them given they returned. When everyone was into his bed, she heard footsteps and ran to the door where she saw Heathcliff alone. He told her that Catherine was at Thrushcross Grange. The kids had run out to explore their surroundings and reached Grange where the dog had bitten Catherine and the inhabitants of Grange – the Lintons- were nursing her. Next day, Mr Linton himself paid a visit to the Heights and gave Hindley a tall lecture about caring for their children. Heathcliff was told to not to talk to Catherine and Hindley’s wife took it upon herself to care for her sister in law.

Analysis:

This chapter marks the entry of the Linton family into the plot. However, it also marks a critical turn in Heathcliff’s life. This is from where the drift in his life begins and Catherine starts drifting away from him. Thrushcross Grange is like a new light for Catherine. From here she emerges from the darkness of Wuthering Heights to find an all new civilized world that is vastly different from the mess at her home.

Chapter 7:

Catherine had to stay at the Grange for five long weeks till her ankle was fully cured. Hindley’s wife often paid her a visit in the meantime. When she returned she was fully changed from the wild thing she was to a dignified woman who alighted from the pony gently. Everyone welcomed her and she gave Nelly Dean a gentle kiss. The dogs came jumping to see her but she did not touch any of them lest her elegant dress would be spoiled. Heathcliff was hiding and when he came out Catherine kissed him seven or eight times on the cheek. Then she laughed at his funny dress and make up.  Hindley asked him to shake hands with Cathy but Heathcliff ran away saying he did not like being laughed at. 

Nelly Dean started singing carols for Christmas Ewe. Hindley had invited the Lintons for the next day. They promised to come at a condition that Heathcliff would not be allowed to come in contact with the children. He had sworn so badly the night the two kids had stolen into the Grange that Lintons were still feeling bad about his behaviour. The house had been cleaned and everything arranged to entertain them and Nelly Dean was feeling concerned for Heathcliff. Next morning he had woken up early. She tried to persuade him to come inside so she could train him for tomorrow but he kept smoothing the coat of his pony. When Nelly Dean said he had grieved Catherine, he said she had grieved him more. Nelly observed her mood and to cheer him up said that he was far stronger than the Linton Kid. He was happy but again grew sad that the later was handsomer. Nelly Dean had again failed to cheer Heathcliff up because he wanted to be handsome and rich like Linton. However, her efforts brought results and she was able to cheer him up after telling him that he should think highly of himself as the descendant of Indian or Chinese royalty who accidentally was brought to Liverpool.  She just wanted that  he was well behaved the next day. Her efforts however, proved futile because as soon as he came against Hindley, he got to taste the later’s ugly temper and that again brought things back to where they used to be.

Hindley did not want him getting in touch with the Linton kids. Lintons had arrived and the Linton kid was watching Hindley and joined in. He said the guy had ugly hair like mane which made Heathcliff all the more furious and he threw hot apple sauce at Master Linton. Catherine was feeling unhappy about what had happened and asked Master Linton he must not have talked to Heathcliff. The situation was soon under control and everyone got busy with the party. Nelly Dean saw that Catherine remained saddened and that  she  tried to find solitude whenever she could. Heathcliff had been locked to some other part of the house. Nelly Dean kept telling Lockwood about the proceedings of the day and how a band came and Catherine sneaked out to check Heathcliff who was planning a payback for Hindley.  He was craving to give back to Hindley all the embarrassment and torture.

Nelly Dean rose as she had grown tired. However, Lockwood was curious and eager. It was eleven but he was in no mood of letting her go. Nelly Dean was somewhat tired and wanted to jump three years but Lockwood advised her to talk lazily. He observed that Nelly Dean was much better than the others around him and she replied that the wisdom she had cultivated came from sharp discipline. She had also read the books she could find around. As Lockwood requested she decided not to jump three years but to the next summer, the summer of 1778.

Analysis:

Linton had entered Catherine’s life and a sharp twist was visible which was taking Heathcliff away from Catherine and turning him into the savage which he would be in the coming chapters. Hindley’s attitude towards him was turning worse and Heathcliff had started thinking of revenge at that tender age. Catherine still cared for Heathcliff but Hindley’s ill treatment had left a deep bruise on his conscience. Meanwhile Nelly Dean tried to console Heathcliff and keep his hatred for Hindley under check.

Chapter 8:

As Nelly Dean again carried on telling the story the next day, she started with the story of birth of Hareton, the last of the Earnshaws.   She was busy working in a far away field where a little girl brought her the news of the child’s birth and that the mistress had given birth to a cute little child. However, she was herself in very poor health and that the doctor said she would not live long. Nelly Dean ran back and met Hindley at the door. He was not ready to believe that his wife was gonna die soon. After some days the doctor said his medicines were not having any effect and that  they must be stopped. Hindley always tried to cheer her up but knew inside that her health was failing and the mistress herself had remained cheerful till one week before her death.

One night while the two were together a fit of coughing took her away. Now it fell upon Nelly Dean to take care of the kid. She continued telling Lockwood how the situation at the Heights kept growing worse and Hindley continued to degrade himself after his wife’s death. Heathcliff was happy to see his degradation and all servants except Nelly dean and Joseph and left. Hindley fell into bad company and his temper kept growing poorer. Heathcliff and Catherine both grew haughtier and arrogant. Catherine was a proud and peerless beauty on the hillside. Nelly Dean showed Lockwood Edgar Linton’s portrait on the wall. Catherine’s and been removed. He looked an amiable creature though wanting in spirit.

After Hindley’s wife’s death Edgar kept visiting the Heights and except him other good people in the neighbourhood kept away from the family. Catherine used to act quite politely and cordially before the Lintons and she had built an impression over the family which she was not in a mood to lose. Besides she was ambitious. She had developed a double identity and once at home she was again the stubborn and proud girl. However, Heathcliff did not like her spending time with the Lintons and had marked each day that  she spent with them on the calendar. One day when Hindley was not at home, he decided to take a holiday and kept at home with Catherine. However, long before Catherine, Heathcliff and Nelly were together Linton arrived and as soon as he did, Heathcliff left.

Catherine wanted to be alone with Edgar but Nelly started cleaning there and that  made Catherine feel awkward. In a fit of anger she pinched and slapped Nelly. The little Hareton started crying calling aunt Cathy cruel. This raised her fury and she vented it out on the little kid. Edgar rose to stop her and the next slap was on his ears. He was feeling embarrassed and decided to leave when Cathy realised her mistake and tried to stop him. Edgar was in no mood to stay but Catherine grew emotional and apologised. Seeing tears in her eyes he was forced too stay. When Nelly Dean checked back after sometime, the two were trying to console each other. Hindley came dead drunk and Edgar left silently. Nelly Dean meanwhile ran to hide Hareton and pull the bullets out of his shotgun which Hindley liked to play with when he was drunk.

Analysis:

This chapter marks a new turn in the relationships of Catherine and Edgar. The environment at Wuthering Heights has continued to get fouler since Mr Earnshaw’s death. Hindley’s situation was worse since his wife died and Cathy and Heathcliff were worse than ever.  Despite everything Catherine’s life seems to be taking a new turn and she has started seeing her love in Edgar as appears from the emotional episode following the quarrel between the two.

Chapter 9:

Hindley used to handle his child and Nelly quite aggressively. He was used to getting dead drunk and so he did again. He took Hareton crying with him to the balcony where the child slipped from his hands and fell. Heathcliff was there somehow who managed to catch the kid. Hindley felt embarrassed and afraid. He came down to see if the child was safe. This had made Nelly angry who took Hareton to lull him to sleep. Hindley was a little embarrassed but soon gained his toughness and got back to drinking despite Nelly Dean trying to stop him. Heathcliff cursed him as he closed the doors. Catherine had been listening to it all from her room and peeped into where Nelly Dean was trying to put Hareton to sleep. She asked her if she was alone. Nelly Dean had not forgotten the slap and kept singing to the little kid. She asked about Heathcliff and Nelly replied he was in the stable. Catherine was crying. She was unhappy she told Nelly Dean.  She wanted to share a secret with Nelly Dean. Edgar had asked her to marry him and she had given her consent. 

Nelly asked her why she was going to marry Edgar and she replied because he was handsome, rich and loved her. They continued to argue about it for sometime and then Nelly said whatever be the reason for marrying Edgar, she was going to find a wealthy life far from this hell with the Lintons. Then they started talking of dreams and Catherine told her about her queer dream of heaven from where she longed to be home. Nelly was not amused. Perhaps, she was still reminded of the slap of the evening. Then she said it. her marrying Linton was like being in heaven but then it was not home. Had not Hindley brought up Heathcliff so low she would not have thought of marrying anyone else. Now, it would degrade her to marry him.Heathcliff had a special place in her heart. It was not because he was handsome but because he was more Catherine than she herself was. Heathcliff was there at the door listening everything but he did not stop to hear after she talked of feeling degraded to marry him and silently stole away. Nelly dean saw it  but Catherine could not because of her back towards the door. She asked Catherine to hush. Joseph’s cartwheel could be heard close by.  She said Heathcliff might have been at the door. Catherine took Hareton for her and told her to call when supper was ready. Nelly Dean said while she was going to find a new life, it was Heathcliff who would be cheated of everything from love to friendship and would feel like deserted but Catherine’s answer was that  it was he who had deserted.

She was not trying to cheat Heathcliff because that would be the last thing on her mind. Edgar too would have to learn to bear him. However, if she and Heathcliff married both would end up being beggars and if she married Linton she would be able to take Heathcliff out of her brother’s clutches and place somewhere higher. Nelly Dean thought otherwise and everything that  she planned would not be possible with her husband’s money. Catherine was getting emotional and while every other relationship was a satisfaction of her whims including Edgar, it was not so in case of Heathcliff. He was a part of her being and the universe was meaningless without her. Linton could change with time but Heathcliff will not and she and Heathcliff were the same person. This was boring Nelly Dean who tried to force her away.

She thought of such behaviour as being unprincipled and wanted to keep no more of Catherine’s secrets. Joseph’s arrival ended the conversation. He was seeking Heathcliff who could not be found. Nelly Dean told Catherine that Heathcliff had heard a good part of their conversation and that made the girl jump. She looked for him everywhere and even made Joseph search for him but he was nowhere found. he had ventured outside leaving the gate open. A storm arrived that night and a tree fell on the roof destroying a part of the chimney. Catherine stood in the rains and got herself all soaked. She came in and lay on the settle when Nelly dean came to her and asked if she was bent on killing herself.

Nelly Dean went to bed with Hareton and Catherine remained awake all the night. When Nelly Dean woke up, Hindley was home and Catherine was still awake and sitting by the fire. Hindley tried to talk to her when Joseph interfered telling about Edgar and Heathcliff and making Catherine angry. Hindley was not concerned about Edgar but wanted to know if she was Heathcliff yesterday night. He got angrier, abusing her and asking her to go to her room. She made quite a scene when she reached her room. a doctor was called who said she was seriously ill and prescribed a diet. Old Mrs Linton paid them several visits and asked them that Catherine be sent to the Grange as soon as she was fine.  However, once Catherine was there they too caught the fever and the couple died soon.

Heathcliff had vanished that night and could not be heard of since then. When Catherine returned she was haughtier and more passionate than ever. since the doctor had advised to not to make her angry everyone left her free as per her will. Three years after the death of his father Edgar Linton married her and nelly dean was forced to go to the grange with her mistress. Hareton was left behind with Hindley. Nelly Dean concluded the story for the day as the clock’s hands were showing half past one.

Analysis:

Hindley’s aggression and abuse of people at Wuthering Heights have increased.  Catherine on the other hand was growing more passionate abut Edgar. Heathcliff overhears her telling Nelly that she could not marry him and leaves the house. By this chapter, Catherine has made up her mind about her future. As she and Edgar get married, Heathcliff has vanished and the story has taken the turn it had to.

Chapter 10:

Lockwood was ill for four weeks and Heathcliff paid him a visit in the meanwhile. He behaved quite generously and civilised and talked of things that made Lockwood feel better. Now that some of Lockwood’s health had returned he was eager to hear the rest of the story from Nelly Dean. He did not want to take medicines any more and pressed her to talk. He was eager to learn what Heathcliff did and how he earned his money. Nelly Dean did not know about his money but she went on to talk about his return. She talked about how life had changed for Catherine at the Grange. She and Catherine were happily settled here. Her behaviour was far more pleasant at the Grange than Heights. Edgar did everything to keep her happy and deep inside also held a fear of her ill temper and tried not to ignite it. One evening Nelly Dean heard a voice at the gate call out her name that despite its foreign accent was familiar because of the way it was pronounced.

It was Heathcliff and she was surprised to find he had returned.  He was changed and looked gentlemanly and despite that some of the old roughness was still there. Nelly Dean wondered if he had become a soldier; he did not tell. He asked her to tell Catherine that someone was looking for her. Nelly Dean went and told Catherine who was waiting for tea with Edgar. Edgar grew eager about the guest and was surprised to know that the gypsy boy had returned. Catherine came back excited to tell Edgar that  Heathcliff was back. Her excitement had turned her frantic and Edgar asked her to be calm. They invited him in and Edgar too felt surprised to mark the change in his personality. Catherine was completely overjoyed. She could neither eat well nor drink while Heathcliff was there. He did not stay at the Grange for more than an hour. He told he would return to Wuthering Heights for Mr Earnshaw had called him. Nelly Dean was afraid that there was some mischief  going on in his mind.  

She fell asleep and was woken up at midnight by Catherine who she knew was still excited about Heathcliff’s arrival. Her praise of Heathcliff had made Edgar sulky and Nelly Dean asked why she was doing this when she knew their aversion for each other. Nelly calmed her down and suggested she not trouble Edgar more which she pledged she will not. They talked of Heathcliff stopping at Wuthering Heights and if this posed any danger to him or Hindley. Hindley was greedy and was ready to let Heathcliff live at the Heights for a handsome rent. She went away and from the events of the next day it seemed that she had controlled herself because they were all happy and the happiness remained there for long. Heathcliff’s visits were less regular at first at Thrushcross Grange as if he was trying to feel the environment and Catherine too controlled her zeal towards him. However, soon he was more regular.

A new trouble had come up as Isabella Linton, now eighteen, was feeling attracted towards the guest. Edgar felt bitter to know of it and held Heathcliff responsible. The love in Isabella’s heart for Heathcliff continued to rise. She was growing cross for she was not being allowed to get close to him and blamed it on everyone including the servants and Catherine. She was growing emotional and even claimed that she loved Heathcliff more than Catherine loved Edgar. Catherine could not bear the remark and replied that Heathcliff was a wolfish man and she would let Isabella fall in his trap. She warned her that he would like to have her fortune but would crush her like sparrow’s eggs when he has the chance. Even Nelly Dean tried to warn Isabella bout Heathcliff’s character and that she should remove him from her heart.

Hindley had been borrowing money from Heathcliff in exchange for his lands and soon Heathcliff was going to own all his property. Even Joseph and confirmed their fears. Nelly Dean continued to press Isabella that she would never want such a husband. Next day, Edgar  had to go to  the next town for a meeting and Heathcliff well aware of his absence showed up rather early. Isabella grew happy to see him through the window and as soon as he entered Catherine disclosed that she had discovered someone even more passionate than her for him and who secretly held strong feelings for him in her heart. Heathcliff looked towards Nelly Dean and Catherine said it was not her but her sister in law. She held her tightly so she could not escape but the girl tried her best and even asked Heathcliff to ask his friend to let her go. Catherine said she was not going to be termed a dog in the manger and Isabella would have to confess. Heathcliff looked indifferent or at least tried to look. Isabella used her nails to dig into Catherine’s skin and break free.  While the two cancelled the matter for the time, the thought remained in Heathcliff’s head as Nelly Dean thought  she saw him grin many a times. She was suspecting something foul and wanted that both Grange and Heights remained free of Heathcliff. His visits made her more afraid for he was like a wolf among the sheepish inhabitants of the Heights.

Analysis:

The suspense has risen with the arrival of Heathcliff. He is now a civilised but mysterious person and Nelly Dean fears he is trying to take over Heights. Meanwhile Isabella’s love for him makes her fears grow deeper. The author indicates that  something evil is in the making and however civilised Heathcliff appears, the evil in him has started revealing itself.

Chapter 11:

Nelly was fearful of the havoc Heathcliff was trying to wreak and she decided to pay the Heights a visit and talk to Hindley. She was not sure that her plan will work but still she decided to give it a try. Half afraid she approached Wuthering Heights where she came across Hareton and the poor child instead of recognising her cursed her. She used an orange to tempt the kid and ask him to inform his father of her arrival, seeking to talk to him. However, when she saw Heathcliff’s face emerge from the inside she left from there like she was being chased by a ghost. Next time, Nelly saw Heathcliff entering the house secretly. He looked around to see if anyone was there and to find no-one went on to hug Isabella Linton upon which Nelly Dean shouted at him angrily. Catherine emerged from inside to hear her cry and prevented her from making more fuss. However, Heathcliff was not embarrassed and on the contrary replied boldly that  no-one was going to stop him from kissing Isabella.

He was going to marry her even if Edgar did not approve of it. He went on speak of his frustration at him and Catherine and that she had treated him infernally and he would not suffer unrevenged. This angered Catherine and she demanded instantly when she had treated him infernally.  The conversations grew angrier and Nelly went inside and told Edgar about everything who grew more frustrated to know of it. He warned Heathcliff that he had been bearing his was till now but could not allow his presence on the premises any more since it was poisoning the environment. Heathcliff measured him wth his eyes like a wolf measures a lamb. He told Catherine that her lamb was trying to threaten him and warned of inflicting physical violence upon him. Edgar was eager for his men to throw Heathcliff out of the house. Catherine sensed it and closed the door. When Edgar tried to wrestle the keys from her she threw it into the fire. She said she was no more willing to bear or support his cowardice and that Heathcliff would do him right by flogging him. Heathcliff was the first to show some aggression and received a tight blow from Edgar on his neck.  Edgar turned out and went into the yard. Catherine hurried Heathcliff to go since Edgar would return with pistols and men.

Catherine was shocked and she asked Nelly Dean to tell both Edgar and Isabella about it. Edgar remained controlled in his conversation with Catherine but still pressed her that she should either leave   Heathcliff or him. Catherine grew furious and started clenching her teeth and banging her head against the arm of the sofa. She did not have food for the next two days. Edgar tried to elicit some facts against Heathcliff from Isabella but could not.

Analysis:

Evil has started taking shape in Catherine’s life from this chapter. She is trying to maintain a balance between Edgar and Heathcliff. It becomes clear from this chapter that  Heathcliff is here to have his revenge. His advances towards Isabella result in a  quarrel with Edgar and Catherine again vents her frustration upon herself. Relationships have started breaking and the author shows that there is more emotional torture for the inhabitants of Grange to follow. Heathcliff’s presence has poisoned things and now the peace in people’s lives would be difficult to restore.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.