Wuthering Heights | Study Guide

Emily Brontë

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Wuthering Heights | Chapter 28 | Summary



Mrs. Dean, freed from imprisonment in Zillah's room, looks for Catherine. She finds out from Linton that Catherine is still locked in his bedroom. Acting innocent and sucking on a piece of candy, Linton tells Mrs. Dean, Heathcliff "says I'm not to be soft ... she's my wife ... it's shameful that she should wish to leave me" and that Catherine wants all of Linton's money. Linton tells Mrs. Dean he will never let her leave. He says everything that was hers is his now: "All her nice books ... her pretty birds ... her pony Minny," and he told Catherine the same when she offered them to him as a bribe to unlock the bedroom, so she can see Edgar before he dies. She even offers her locket with Edgar and Cathy's pictures inside, but Linton says those are his too, and he tears the locket from her neck. Heathcliff comes when Catherine screams; he smashes the locket with his foot and hits Catherine on the mouth. Linton admits it made him glad, until her mouth filled with blood. Mrs. Dean is horrified by Linton's behavior, and she reminds him how kind Catherine was when she did not have to be. Linton will not tell Mrs. Dean where the bedroom key is. Mrs. Dean calls Linton a heartless, selfish boy, but she perceives "the wretched creature had no power to sympathize with his cousin's mental tortures."

Mrs. Dean rushes out and runs across the moors to Thrushcross Grange. She sends servants back to break Catherine out of Wuthering Heights. She tells Edgar a softened version of what happened. Edgar tells Mrs. Dean to call Mr. Green, his lawyer, to change the will. But unknowing the whole truth—that Linton is also dying—Edgar only slightly makes changes to the will: Thrushcross Grange will be left to any male children Catherine has.

The servants come back without Catherine, believing a lie Heathcliff tells. Mrs. Dean plans to send more armed servants tomorrow, but Catherine shows up in the morning. She sneaked out with a little help from Linton. Keeping Heathcliff's crimes to herself, Catherine sits quietly with Edgar as he dies. Mr. Green finally shows up; he works for Heathcliff now, and he fires all of the servants except Mrs. Dean; Heathcliff allows Catherine to stay at Thrushcross Grange until after the funeral.


The horror of Linton's behavior, mirroring Heathcliff's cruelty, is meant to arouse an intense emotional response, as Linton surprises the reader with one shocking revelation relishing violence and power over Catherine after another, all while he pretends to be innocent. Women have limited legal rights, and even a man like Edgar, gentle and loving toward his daughter, leaves her powerless in the world. Linton may be weak, and thus superficially resemble the gentle Edgar, but Brontë makes it clear that weakness is not the same thing as deliberate gentleness, and Linton's weakness does not prevent his cruelty.

The limitations of Linton's and Catherine's understanding of their marriage create another moment of dramatic irony: Linton is glad to have his cousin's possessions and pony, like one child jealous of another's toy, and is oblivious to his father's larger goal of revenge. Catherine, frantic to go home to her father, has no sense of the permanent damage she has caused herself to gain a few moments at Edgar's bedside.

The limitations of the law, which Heathcliff exploits for the purposes of revenge, are on display in this chapter. Heathcliff is able to bribe a supposedly honorable lawyer, and he uses inheritance law, which was intended to keep money and property within families, as a way to control everything belonging to the Lintons.

Yet, Mrs. Dean pities more than judges at a place in the novel where if ever there were a time to judge and cry out for justice, it would be now, driving deeper a core message in the pity versus judgment theme. Here is the extreme example of a "heartless" and "selfish" character, but pity still holds greater value than judgment. Mrs. Dean's words reflect the heart of the theme: "You could pity your own suffering; and she pitied them, too; but you won't pity hers!" Mrs. Dean, who advocates pity throughout the novel, does not give in to revenge or violence.

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