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Wuthering Heights | Discussion Questions 21 - 30

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What does Cathy's gravesite location imply in Chapter 16 of Wuthering Heights?

Cathy is buried in a corner of the churchyard overlooking the moors. Cathy is not buried with the Lintons, near the chapel, nor with her own family, the Earnshaws, which surprises the servants. No reason is given for this choice of burial location, but it suggests Cathy never found her true destiny and place of belonging while alive, and she will not find it in death either. It forebodes and foreshadows the wandering and forlorn spirit she will become. Not being buried by the chapel reflects how Cathy rejected religion and heaven; being buried by the moors and not with the Lintons reflects how she felt torn between the expectations of upper-class society and her love for Heathcliff, since they spent all of their free time together on the moors when they were children.

What is significant about the fact that only servants attend Cathy's funeral in Chapter 16 of Wuthering Heights?

Isabella, Heathcliff, and Hindley do not attend Cathy's funeral. A lack of mourners who are related to Cathy or truly love her signifies the discord and doom created by Cathy's choosing to go against her heart and Heathcliff's diabolical leanings toward revenge: not having a proper relationship, there is no hope for a proper goodbye. It also signifies the futility of Cathy's ambitions to be an upperclass, wealthy lady. Besides Edgar, only servants attend her funeral—this is the sad culmination of all Cathy's ambitions. When Cathy was alive, she expected servants to obey her, like her, and care about her, yet she was oblivious to Mrs. Dean's true feelings, and she failed to recognize Mrs. Dean's humanity and humility because of her pride. Yet Mrs. Dean loyally attends Cathy's funeral, cries for her, and tells the story of her life. This is a poignant moment in the novel, showing the humanity and dignity of servants who are not given the dignity they perhaps deserve in return.

How does Isabella feel about Heathcliff when she leaves him in Chapter 17 of Wuthering Heights?

Isabella is in conflict, fighting the love she still feels for Heathcliff even as she escapes Wuthering Heights. Her words suggest her jealousy toward Heathcliff's love for Cathy, which significantly surfaces and spills over in front of Isabella after Cathy's death, despite how it makes Isabella feel. Isabella uses Heathcliff's pain to taunt and mock him, which implies agonizing feelings of jealousy. Right after she tells Mrs. Dean that "he has extinguished my love," Isabella admits she can remember the love she had for Heathcliff and can "dimly imagine that I could still be loving him." Then she cries out "No, No!" She does not let Hindley kill Heathcliff, and she does tell the truth when Joseph threatens to ask the magistrate to investigate Heathcliff for trying to murder Hindley. Even though she has found the strength to leave, she does still imply love and desire for him.

How does Brontë leave the possibility open to suspicion that Heathcliff kills Hindley in Chapter 17 of Wuthering Heights?

It is doubtful, but not impossible, that Heathcliff actually murders Hindley at the end of Chapter 17. The situation in which Hindley dies is exactly like the night Isabella recalls in detail for Mrs. Dean when Hindley locked Heathcliff out of the house. Heathcliff reacted brutally to being locked out and almost killed Hindley that night. This shows Heathcliff capable enough of violence, yet, he stops himself, and when he calms down he tends to Hindley's wounds. The night Hindley died, Heathcliff says Hindley had intended to drink himself to death. Joseph does not dispute Heathcliff's statement, and they did wait until the morning to break in, but Joseph does say he wishes Heathcliff ran for the doctor because Hindley was not anywhere near death when Joseph left. Heathcliff pays for Hindley's funeral and attends it, looking mournful, but Mrs. Dean implies Heathcliff is faking mourning, and she explicitly says she saw something like "exultation" in Heathcliff's mood. There is a tremendous amount of evidence to arouse suspicion that Heathcliff kills Hindley.

What is the significance of the imagery Mrs. Dean uses to describe Hareton in Chapter 18 of Wuthering Heights?

Mrs. Dean discusses Hareton's character in relation to natural elements, such as crops and soil, which ties in with the weather, wind, and tree symbolism throughout the novel. Trees represent children, and the wind represents the characters—and often violent experiences—that shape the children's personalities and lives. Had Hareton, who has "good" qualities "lost amid a wilderness of weeds," grown up in "wealthy" soil, Mrs. Dean comments, he might "yield luxuriant crops." The symbolism is specifically tailored for Hareton, as he works mostly as a farmer, and Heathcliff has not physically abused him. Heathcliff takes revenge by never correcting Hareton or teaching him how to read and write, hence Mrs. Dean's use of "wilderness of weeds."

What is the significance of Joseph's interaction with Hareton as described by Mrs. Dean in Chapter 18 of Wuthering Heights?

Mrs. Dean says that she has heard gossip that Joseph "pets" and "flatters" Hareton because he is the remaining "head of the old family." This moment is the first inkling given of Hareton's possibility of turning into a sympathetic character with heroic qualities. Joseph also allows Heathcliff to "ruin" Hareton because he believes Heathcliff will go to hell for it. This is a complete contradiction, and as Joseph is sometimes shown to be a religious hypocrite, his conflicted dealings with Hareton reflect his paradoxical behavior. Considering how close Joseph and Hareton will become in the future, it is almost humorous, and aptly so, that Joseph accidentally protects Hareton by trying to injure Heathcliff in this way. Mrs. Dean says that had Joseph "instilled into him a pride of name ... and of his lineage ... he would have fostered hate" between Hareton and Heathcliff.

In Chapter 21 of Wuthering Heights what does it mean that Heathcliff is willing to tell Mrs. Dean his plan for Catherine to marry Linton?

Heathcliff tells Mrs. Dean that he wants Catherine and Linton to marry, and he's "acting generously to [Edgar Linton]: his young chit has no expectations ... she'll be provided for at once as joint successor with Linton." Mrs. Dean, who does not trust Heathcliff, reminds him that if the sickly Linton should die, Catherine will inherit Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff is honest in telling Mrs. Dean Thrushcross Grange will be his because there is no clause in the will. This is the first clue that Heathcliff plans revenge. Mrs. Dean adds she was foolish to believe him, hinting at events to come in the story. However Heathcliff clearly does not fear that anyone can stop him from being successful in getting what he wants. Catherine could get Thrushcross Grange if a clause is placed in the will, so there is significant risk in exposing his plan. It is possible Heathcliff's desire for revenge is losing steam, or he is partly sincere when he says he is being generous because Catherine will be provided for.

In Chapter 21 of Wuthering Heights does Heathcliff lie to Catherine or tell the truth when he explains why he and Edgar Linton are enemies?

Heathcliff tells Catherine that Edgar thought he was too poor to wed Isabella and their marriage hurt Edgar's pride. Edgar tells Catherine it was "because Mr. Heathcliff dislikes me; and is a most diabolical man, delighting to wrong and ruin those he hates." The truth is rooted in their childhood experiences. Isabella and Edgar and the older Mr. Linton and Mrs. Linton despised and degraded Heathcliff the very moment they met him, and they sent him home without Cathy because they thought he was unworthy of entering their household. In this sense Heathcliff is telling the truth. However, Heathcliff did injure Isabella as revenge for the childhood experiences the Lintons made him suffer, so Edgar is also telling the truth, but not the whole truth.

Why does Catherine believe Heathcliff's version of the truth in Chapter 21 of Wuthering Heights over Edgar and Mrs. Dean's explanations of the disputes between the households?

Catherine believes Heathcliff because she has just caught Mrs. Dean and her father in a lie, which is that they kept Linton's whereabouts from her for several years. This happens soon after Heathcliff cleverly sets up the whole situation to look as though he has nothing to hide: he brings Catherine to Wuthering Heights so she can see her cousin Linton again, and then when she wants to regularly come back and visit, Heathcliff casually tells her that he and Edgar do not get along. The fact that Heathcliff will allow Catherine to be friends with Linton and spend time at Wuthering Heights makes him appear the nobler and more morally just man. She also, as Mrs. Dean explains, cannot understand the capacity for hatred and slow revenge Heathcliff harbors because none of those negative traits are in her own personality. Unlike the reader, without access to the past and the real history between Heathcliff and Edgar, Catherine is in no position to understand the truth her father is trying to tell her.

How does Heathcliff feel about Hareton in Wuthering Heights?

Heathcliff definitely has strong feelings of approval toward Hareton when he says, "Twenty times a day, I covet Hareton ... I'd have loved the lad had he been someone else." This is coming very close to a feeling of love—to say he would have loved. Heathcliff's actions in Chapter 21 also suggest paternal feelings of love toward Hareton. When Catherine whispers something "uncivil" into Heathcliff's ear about Hareton, Heathcliff spares Hareton's pride, pretending not to remember exactly what Catherine says; he lies, saying it is "something very flattering." He also advises Hareton how to act with Catherine to make her like him. Heathcliff's feelings of repulsion toward his own son indirectly suggest Heathcliff loves Hareton—by way of contrast—because the repulsion for Linton clarifies the qualities Heathcliff admires, and these are qualities Hareton possesses. At the end of the book, Heathcliff sees Catherine teaching Hareton to read, and seems moved rather than upset; immediately after, he tells Mrs. Dean that he no longer feels the same desire for revenge, suggesting that Heathcliff finds the possibility of redemption for himself in Hareton's happiness with Catherine.

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