Wuthering Heights | Study Guide

Emily Brontë

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Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Sep. 2016. Web. 25 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/>.

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Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." September 29, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/.

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Wuthering Heights | Chapter 23 | Summary

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Summary

Catherine and Mrs. Dean cross the moors to visit Linton. The day before, Heathcliff told Catherine that Linton is dying because she stopped writing her letters to him. When they arrive, Linton tells Catherine not to kiss him because it takes his breath away. He is angry he had to write to her because it tired him and then his father blamed him, saying he is a "painful, shuffling, worthless thing" because Catherine never visits. "Are you glad to see me?" Catherine asks many times. Linton says he wants to marry her so she will take care of him. Catherine says being brother and sister is better, that husbands and wives sometimes hate each other. This leads to an argument about their fathers. Catherine defends Edgar and Linton defends Heathcliff. Angry, Catherine shoves Linton's chair, causing him to choke and cough.

Catherine apologizes, saying, "I couldn't have been hurt by that little push, and I had no idea that you could, either." Linton does not accept Catherine's apology, but when she tries to leave, he writhes on the floor in agony "determined to be as grievous and harassing as he can be," according to Mrs. Dean. Catherine spends another hour trying to make him comfortable, propping his pillows and reciting poetry for him while he leans on her for support.

Back at Thrushcross Grange, Mrs. Dean catches a cold that incapacitates her for three weeks. Catherine diligently nurses Mrs. Dean and her father during the day and sneaks over to Wuthering Heights to care for Linton every night.

Analysis

Catherine and Linton's lack of passion contrasts with Cathy and Heathcliff's all-consuming love. Catherine's visit mirrors an event from the past—when Edgar visits Cathy and she has a violent tantrum and manipulates Edgar into staying afterward. Edgar is the proper gentleman in the past encounter; Cathy the spoiled indulged child. Here, Catherine is the nurse, and Linton is the spoiled indulged child. Further, their physical interactions are cold, lifeless, and clinical; they disappoint Catherine, who is eager for a romance. Linton's illness also reflects a difference from the past: Cathy suffered from a broken heart. Linton is shown to be insufferable. The symbolic ghost of the past lingers in the present when Linton and Catherine argue over their fathers' different versions of the truth, and it creates a loose dramatic irony that flows through the novel—the reader knows much more about the past than Linton and Catherine. The reader gets a front row seat to the effects of different combinations of mixed bloodlines and environments—nature and nurture—over time, while the characters are unknowledgeable about where they come from and what exactly is influencing their behavior.

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