Wuthering Heights | Study Guide

Emily Brontë

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Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Sep. 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/>.

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Course Hero. (2016, September 29). Wuthering Heights Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/

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Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." September 29, 2016. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/.


Course Hero, "Wuthering Heights Study Guide," September 29, 2016, accessed December 10, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/.

Wuthering Heights | Chapter 31 | Summary



Mr. Lockwood visits Wuthering Heights to tell Heathcliff he is going back to London. Carrying a little note for Catherine, from Mrs. Dean, Mr. Lockwood waits at the "jealous gate," always locked, until Hareton lets him in. Catherine is in the kitchen, cooking, when Mr. Lockwood enters. Mr. Lockwood observes that she is sulky and less spirited than when he saw her last; she hardly looks at him, and he comments, "She's a beauty, it is true; but not an angel."

Now, in the parlor with Catherine and Hareton, Mr. Lockwood drops the note on Catherine's lap. "What is that?" she asks loudly, and Hareton confiscates it. Embarrassed (afraid they will think the letter is from him), Mr. Lockwood explains that it's from Mrs. Dean. Catherine ignores Mr. Lockwood, but he urges her to speak with him; Mrs. Dean will expect a reply of some sort. "Does Ellen like you?" Catherine asks. "Yes, very well," Mr. Lockwood replies. Catherine tells him to tell Mrs. Dean that she would write, but she doesn't have any paper—or books. Mentioning books brings up an ongoing argument between Hareton and Catherine. She teases Hareton, in front of Mr. Lockwood, about the way he sounds when he's trying to read aloud. She accuses Hareton of spitefully stealing all of her books, and when Hareton offers to give them back, she tells him they are debased and "profaned in his mouth!" She never wants them back. Hareton, embarrassed, hits Catherine, and Mr. Lockwood thinks, "The little wretch had done her utmost to hurt her cousin's sensitive though uncultivated feelings, and a physical argument was the only mode he had of balancing the account."

Hareton goes outside as Heathcliff returns. Catherine slips into the kitchen. They discuss the rental agreement. Perceiving Mr. Lockwood is trying to get out of paying the full year, Heathcliff tells him, "I never relent in exacting my due from anyone." Mr. Lockwood promises to pay. During dinner, Mr. Lockwood wonders why Catherine doesn't want to eat with him. He supposes "living among clowns and misanthropes, she probably cannot appreciate a better class of people when she meets them."

Mr. Lockwood would like to catch one more glimpse of Catherine before he leaves, but Heathcliff walks him outside. Mr. Lockwood muses, "What a realisation of something more romantic than a fairytale it would have been for Mrs. Linton Heathcliff, had she and I struck up an attachment, as her good nurse desired, and migrated together into the stirring atmosphere of the town!"


The novel has repeatedly asked the Victorian reader to consider the value of pity and the peril of judgment. Now, the reader enters the chapter with full knowledge of the major joys, disappointments, injustices, and abuse—the greatest good, the worst bad—Heathcliff, Hareton, and Catherine have delivered or suffered. The reader no longer needs Mrs. Dean's explanations or Mr. Lockwood's observations as he walks through the Wuthering Heights "jealous gate," always fastened. The knowledge of the characters is unlocked, and the reader is free to choose between pity and judgment while witnessing the characters' present day behaviors and interactions.

And now, the reader also has the ability to assess Mr. Lockwood's character accurately. As the chapter progresses the reader will be able to measure Mr. Lockwood's observations against the reader's own interpretations. When Mr. Lockwood first met Heathcliff, Catherine, and Hareton, the reader saw these figures through his eyes, and may have judged them to be uncouth and impolite, as he did. Now, the reader parts ways with Mr. Lockwood: he knows their circumstances, but is too pompous and oblivious to feel empathy for them, and he makes himself ridiculous in the reader's eyes by imagining that it would be "more romantic than a fairy tale" for him to carry Catherine off. The reader, knowing the characters' backstories now, is much more likely to pity them and to empathize with their unhappiness.

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