Wuthering Heights | Study Guide

Emily Brontë

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Sep. 2016. Web. 20 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2016, September 29). Wuthering Heights Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." September 29, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Wuthering Heights Study Guide," September 29, 2016, accessed September 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/.

Wuthering Heights | Chapter 16 | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

Cathy gives birth to Catherine prematurely and then dies, leaving Edgar without a male heir. Edgar sinks into mourning. Mrs. Dean says of Cathy's corpse that "no angel in heaven could appear more beautiful," and adds that Cathy was right when she said, only hours before her death, she would be "incomparably beyond and above us all." Believing Cathy's spirit is at "home with God," Mrs. Dean sees in her corpse "a repose that neither earth nor hell can break," and she is reassured of the eternal hereafter, "love in its sympathy," and "love in its fullness." Mr. Lockwood comments that when Mrs. Dean originally told him the story she asked his opinion about life after death, but he refused to answer, believing to do so would go against the established church.

Mrs. Dean looks for Heathcliff to tell him the news of Cathy's death, and she finds him still as a piece of timber beside an ash tree outside Thrushcross Grange. At first, Mrs. Dean cries for Heathcliff, believing God has seen through his pride and brought this humiliation and pain for a purpose. However, when Heathcliff bashes his head against the tree and cries out for Cathy's spirit to haunt him, Mrs Dean admits, "It hardly moved my compassion—it appalled me: still, I felt reluctant to quit him so."

Then Mrs. Dean offers to sneak Heathcliff into the house to see the corpse. She discovers he sneaked in on his own when she finds Edgar's blond hair on the floor and Heathcliff's dark hair replacing it inside Cathy's locket. She entwines the locks of hair and describes Cathy's gravesite on the moors.

Analysis

The focus in this chapter is on Mrs. Dean's views on love, pity, and religion. Pointedly, Mrs. Dean stops her narration to ask Mr. Lockwood his views on life after death, revealing a little more about his character: he either believes in the conventionality of the established church, or he is unwilling to speak in depth about religion or death. Either way, through his character, Brontë continues to expose him for a shallow gentleman-type from the city.

Mrs. Dean pities Heathcliff for his loss, yet she judges him, entwining the themes of pity versus judgment with pride versus humiliation. In her pity (her word) for Heathcliff, Mrs. Dean thinks to herself, "You have a heart and nerves as same as your brother men! Why should you be anxious to conceal them? Your pride cannot blind God! You tempt him to wring them, till he forces a cry of humiliation." Her ability to empathize is weakened by her instinct to judge—a strong pattern playing out many times throughout the novel. The reader, here, may pick up on the contradiction evolving through Mrs. Dean's character. She is wholly able to describe the unusually intense love—which to her is selfish and irreverent—between Cathy and Heathcliff. If she did not recognize what it is, she would not speak of it the way she does throughout the novel, noting details such as Heathcliff's "inner agony" and that he "trembled ... to his very fingerends." Yet, she is always limited because the kind of love Heathcliff and Cathy share frightens and appalls her. So, why is she so skilled in translating its nature to the reader?

The novel continues its reach for ideas beyond good and evil initiated in the previous chapter, as it moves away from the dualism of angels and devils and good and evil toward the idea of something beyond or transcendent.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Wuthering Heights? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!