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Wuthering Heights | Discussion Questions 41 - 50


What do Mr. Lockwood's observations of Catherine and Hareton suggest about his character in Chapter 31 of Wuthering Heights?

The first observation Mr. Lockwood makes upon seeing Catherine is that she is beautiful but not "amiable," leading to his conclusion she is not an "angel." Since Mr. Lockwood has learned from Mrs. Dean all Catherine has been through, his observation suggests that he is apathetic to Catherine and generally lacks empathy. However, he empathizes greatly with Hareton later on when Catherine humiliates Hareton about trying to learn to read. Also, Mr. Lockwood shows himself to be a hypocrite. He chastises Catherine for looking down on Hareton, yet, later, when Catherine chooses not to have dinner with him, Lockwood inwardly calls Hareton "a clown," looking down on him for being uneducated—the same crime he chastises Catherine for committing. He approves when Hareton hits Catherine for having "a saucy tongue," reinforcing Mr. Lockwood's violent side, which has been hinted at in earlier chapters. However, Mr. Lockwood's approval of violence seen first hand mixed with his desire for Catherine and understanding of her life story takes his mean streak to another level. Mr. Lockwood is also prideful and conceited, believing Catherine is not interested in him because she is beneath him, not because of flaws or unattractiveness in his character.

How do Mr. Lockwood's descriptions of the scenery reflect and foreshadow events in Chapter 32 of Wuthering Heights?

As Mr. Lockwood nears Wuthering Heights, he passes a grey church that "looks greyer," and he says "the lonely churchyard lonelier;" this foreshadows how he will feel by the end of the chapter. The first live being he sees is "a moor-sheep cropping the short turf on the graves." This detail foreshadows Heathcliff's death and Mr. Lockwood's hearing about it from Mrs. Dean. In Chapter 4 Mrs. Dean refers to Heathcliff as an uncomplaining "lamb" when he is very young and has the measles. Considering the vast number of biblical references in Wuthering Heights, Brontë intends for the reader to associate Heathcliff with ideas of sacrificing for the greater good, or perhaps being a lost soul. On Mr. Lockwood's journey between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights his descriptions change to sun and moon imagery, reflecting the idea of the beginning and ending of the novel: "the glow of a sinking sun behind, and the mild glory of a rising moon in front," casting a tone of hope. Then Mr. Lockwood says, by the "beamless amber light"—introducing the idea of light associations—"I could see every pebble on the path, and every blade of grass, by that splendid moon." This foreshadows the light, or happiness, Mr. Lockwood will soon witness between Cathy and Hareton, and how all will be clear (see every pebble) as the novel comes to its end (the sun sets) and the moon rises.

Why does Mr. Lockwood enter the house through the kitchen after spying on Catherine and Hareton in Chapter 32 of Wuthering Heights, and what does it suggest about his character?

Mr. Lockwood's character has not changed much since learning about the journeys of the Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange characters, but his choice to not risk injuring the love he sees growing between Catherine and Hareton suggests some character growth. However, that he thinks his presence would cause injury to their happiness proves Mr. Lockwood is still conceited. He admits to being "curious and envious" as he watches Catherine and Hareton interact romantically, and Mr. Lockwood "bites his lip in spite" at throwing away his opportunity for romance. This suggests a strong attraction to Catherine and a lingering fear of love. In an earlier chapter Mr. Lockwood explains the event leading him to retreat to the country, and it involved his lack of courage in exposing his feelings to a woman.

What is the purpose of Mrs. Dean and Joseph's religious banter in Chapter 32 of Wuthering Heights?

Mrs. Dean is singing a song called "Fairy Annie's Wedding" when Joseph condemns her, saying he'd rather hear Catherine and Hareton swearing at each other and fighting than have them listen to Mrs. Dean's advice, which most likely refers to Catherine and Hareton getting married—alluded to by the wedding song. Brontë is reinforcing the idea of religious hypocrisy, which Joseph represents throughout the novel, through Joseph confusing love with wickedness, encouraging hateful behavior, and being generally mean and nasty. Mrs. Dean's reply to "read your Bible like a Christian" has a double meaning. It can be taken as though she is telling him to stop yelling and go read, or to read his Bible accurately and truly understand the meaning contained within it. There is another connection to the idea of Joseph's lack of religious understanding later when Joseph lays "dirty bank notes" on top of a Bible, alluding to religious ideas about not placing money above God.

What is the figurative significance of Catherine and Hareton's garden in Chapter 33 of Wuthering Heights?

The garden serves as a metaphor for the uniting of the two houses of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange in Catherine "importing" plants from her childhood home to Hareton's home. Hareton being involved in the process reinforces the idea of union. Catherine, persuading Hareton to "make that mess at her bidding!"—as Mrs. Dean puts it—adds another layer of meaning to the garden as a metaphor for the transfer of power over Hareton from Heathcliff to Catherine. Hareton, who is raised to be like a watchdog for Heathcliff, becomes Catherine's symbolic dog when he protects her later at dinner. However, Catherine ultimately sets Hareton free by understanding he loves Heathcliff as a father, so she relinquishes the power she has and they become equals. Brontë also draws a comparison between the story of Adam and Eve, alluding to it in references to the supplanted trees being the apple of Joseph's eye. Joseph is like the snake; Catherine and Hareton like Adam and Eve; and like Adam, Hareton is willing to take the blame for the destruction of the garden.

How does Mrs. Dean's role in the lives of the Lintons and Earnshaws change throughout Wuthering Heights?

Mrs. Dean begins as a poor child, yet is treated like a foster sister. Next she turns into a typical servant, working grueling hours with no power over her life and forced to bend to the whims and desires of all her masters; everyone is her master, but she educates herself with books in the library. She raises Hareton but must give him up, and she raises Catherine but must give her up, as she is only a servant. From all of her years earning wages there comes a moment when she can afford her own cottage and even rescue Catherine, but she stays. This reflects her change into a person who has power over her own life; she stays because she doubts Heathcliff would allow Catherine to live with her, and rather than save herself as she could, she chooses to be close to the child she loves. Next, she is referred to as mistress, implying she has become more than just a servant, and she is given the post of mistress at the family's table, treated finally as worthy of consideration. Around the same time she sees Hareton and Catherine as "in a measure, my children." She is truly like family by the end of the novel.

Why can't Heathcliff eat or rest in Chapter 34 of Wuthering Heights?

One of the reasons Heathcliff cannot eat or rest is because he is distracted by his obsession with Cathy. The first time Heathcliff tries to eat he sees something outside, so he leaves. Catherine, Hareton, and Mrs. Dean see him walking to and fro in the garden. It is most likely Cathy's ghost he is seeing, as this is the source of his "joy" and "glittering, restless eyes" throughout the chapter. However, there is another implication that Heathcliff longs to die, and this is making him unable to eat or rest when he tells Mrs. Dean that "My soul's bliss kill's my body, but does not satisfy itself." Another possibility is the actual ghost of Cathy is stopping him from eating and purposely trying to kill him so they can be together. The first clue comes when he says he is hungry yet "seemingly, I must not eat," as if someone or something is ordering him or forcing him. This happens again later. In fact, every time Mrs. Dean entreats Heathcliff to eat and he attempts to touch the food, "his fingers clenched before he reached it," as if something is physically stopping Heathcliff from eating.

How and why does Heathcliff's attitude toward Catherine transform throughout Wuthering Heights?

When Heathcliff first meets Catherine he behaves gruffly when she is haughty, but he is kind to her also, perhaps to entice her to come to Wuthering Heights and see Linton, but it is only after she is mean to Hareton that Heathcliff begins to dislike her personally, as well as for being Cathy and Edgar's daughter. His dislike turns to violence and abuse when she defies him and acts unafraid of him. During this time, leading up to Heathcliff forcing Catherine to marry Linton, Heathcliff blames her for Cathy's death, and he sees her as an extension of her father and a means to hurt Edgar. After Linton's death when Heathcliff sees a transformation in Catherine—a surge of depth after experiencing death—he withdraws from actively tormenting her. Around the time she and Hareton become friendly, Heathcliff begins to see Cathy in Catherine, saying to her at dinner, "What fiend possesses you to stare back at me, continually, with those infernal eyes?" Considering Catherine is never associated with devils, hell, or evil, and that Heathcliff accused Cathy of possessing "infernal selfishness," it is very subtle, but the implication is that Heathcliff, led by insanity or not, sees Cathy's ghost when he looks at Catherine. The implications increase as he nears death. In a way, this change in Catherine, this infusion of strength, which coincides with Heathcliff's changing perception, aids Catherine in defeating Heathcliff's hatred. Near the very end, before Heathcliff dies and Hareton has just come from checking on him, Hareton tells Mrs. Dean, "He wondered how I could want the company of anybody else"—meaning Catherine. Once Heathcliff truly sees Cathy in Catherine and himself in Hareton, he loses the will to complete his revenge.

How does the second half of Wuthering Heights, after Cathy's death, differ from the first half of the novel?

In the second half of the novel, the tone gradually lightens, incorporating a few humorous moments along the way, as Mrs. Dean's narration is more lighthearted. However, there are still intense and abusive events interspersed throughout the second half, such as Catherine's imprisonment in Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff's and Linton's deaths. Brontë's use of pathetic fallacy also changes in the second half: there are not as many storms and more bright skies. In the first half of the novel the moor is used to symbolize uncivilized wildness, freedom from social distinctions, and freedom from the abuse that Heathcliff and Cathy suffer at home; in the second half, they serve more as a literal setting than a symbol; many more scenes actually happen on the moors, as Catherine and Mrs. Dean look for birds' eggs or travel to meet with Linton in the sunny heat of summer. Linton, being the stranger brought to Wuthering Heights in the second half of the novel, contrasts when Heathcliff arrives in the first half, and he and Hindley engage in a dark and violent battle of wills. Linton is too physically and emotionally weak to be taken as a serious threat. A particularly noticeable moment is when, in Chapter 32, Linton throws a temper tantrum to keep Cathy from leaving by sliding off his chair and thrashing about on the floor for attention; Heathcliff never indulged in frivolous or childish behavior, and his temperament made the tone in the first half much more menacing. Another aspect creating a stark difference between the two storylines is found in Catherine's nature as opposed to Cathy's nature; having been primarily raised by a gentle father and a humble servant, Mrs. Dean, Catherine is ultimately able to rise above her attitude of superiority over Hareton, whereas Cathy's attitude created feelings of injustice and discord among Heathcliff and the servants in the first half of Wuthering Heights. Generally, in the second half of the novel Catherine's predominantly good qualities diminish the sense of doom that began the novel.

In what ways does the novel suggest that Cathy and Heathcliff communicate with each other even when they are apart in Wuthering Heights?

There are more instances to suggest Cathy and Heathcliff can communicate telepathically or spiritually, so to speak, than not, in Wuthering Heights. In Chapter 12 when Cathy is delirious, looking out of the window toward Wuthering Heights, she acts as though Heathcliff is speaking to her though he is not there, telling Mrs. Dean, "He's considering—he'd rather I'd come to him!" Even if this takes place when Cathy seems insane, digging further back in the narrative to when she is sane, Cathy seems to know Heathcliff ran away after overhearing her conversation with Mrs. Dean long before she should. Almost immediately, Cathy begins "pacing" and "fretting" while Mrs. Dean thinks Heathcliff is simply hiding in the hayloft as he always does. Cathy cannot be "persuaded with tranquility," and she "kept wandering ... in a state of agitation ... heedless of [Mrs. Dean's] expostulations and the growling thunder ... she remained, calling at intervals ... and then crying outright." This suggests intense connection between Cathy and Heathcliff. Once Cathy is dead, the thread is lost until Heathcliff describes how he has been able to feel her spirit for 18 years even though he cannot see her. Whether he has gone mad or not, it seems, at the end, as if she is with him in spirit as he goes insane. And afterward, the very last image of them, as seen with the child with the lambs, is of the two of them together. As much as Brontë demonstrates that the two characters have an extraordinary love and connection between them, the whole plot, in the end, rests on the times when they are out of sync with each other. Cathy spoke about Heathcliff, unknowing he was right there listening, and she said hurtful things about him. Also, Cathy finds happiness in the beginning of her marriage, living at Thrushcross Grange, and in her friendship with Isabella. And as much as she loves Heathcliff, she often perceives him as being beneath her, and she cultivates her relationship with Edgar right under Heathcliff's nose, knowing how deeply it hurts him.

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