Chapters 13, 14 and 15
Cathy is in fact pregnant and Edgar tries to nurse her
back to health. He hopes for a male heir.
Isabella has married Heathcliff and writes to Edgar begging his forgiveness,
but this is ignored.
She then writes to Nelly and asks her to visit Wuthering Heights. She is distraught at the way Heathcliff treats her. In the letter she tells of her loneliness, as Hareton, Joseph and Hindley are rude to her. She regrets having married Heathcliff and cannot see any way for her to escape.
When Heathcliff learns of Cathy’s illness he blames Edgar for this.
Nelly visits Wuthering Heights, but she can give no words of comfort to
Isabella from Edgar who still will have no contact with her.
Heathcliff is eager to learn about Cathy’s situation, clearly hurting Isabella. Heathcliff wants to see Cathy and asks Nelly to arrange this. She refuses, and Heathcliff responds by saying that he will go to the Grange and Nelly will be kept at Wuthering Heights. Nelly then reluctantly agrees to take a letter to Cathy.
Four days pass before Nelly is able to deliver the letter to Cathy while the
rest of the household are at church.
Cathy is close to death and cannot even summon up the strength to hold the letter. Just then Heathcliff bursts into the room and Cathy accuses him and Edgar of breaking her heart. They embrace and then Heathcliff accuses Cathy of neglecting herself, bringing death upon her. The distraught Cathy cries and begs forgiveness. Heathcliff says that she is responsible for breaking both their hearts. He tells her, ‘I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer, but yours! How can I?’ He considers Cathy to be the murderer of both of them. Cathy begs Heathcliff to stay and Edgar returns from church, and bursting into Cathy’s room Heathcliff puts Cathy’s body into Edgar’s arms begging him to take care of her before he attacks Heathcliff.
Nelly promises to keep Heathcliff advised of Cathy’s condition.
Edgar obviously loved Cathy when they were married, but
it does not compare to the passionate love Cathy and Heathcliff have for each other.
The reader may wonder if Edgar’s attentiveness to Cathy is merely concern over his unborn heir, especially as Edgar’s rival would inherit the property, being married to his sister Isabella.
The reader must also be skeptical about Nelly’s narration concerning
Heathcliff and Isabella.
She portrays Heathcliff as a totally evil man. Although there is evidence to suggest that Heathcliff blames Edgar for Cathy’s condition and takes this out on Isabella, his actions stem from the wrongs he has suffered at the hands of the Lintons and Cathy. Isabella’s life at Wuthering Heights is dire, being surrounded by the unsavory presence of Hindley, Hareton and Joseph.
In these chapters we obtain an explanation of the depth of Heathcliff’s love
for Cathy. He compares it to the love Edgar has for Cathy and states ‘If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in 18 years as I could in a day.’
Nelly is astonished at Heathcliff’s fervor and this is one of the factors
that eventually persuade her to take a letter from him to Cathy. She gives the impression that she clearly dislikes him, but she allows herself to be manipulated by the persuasive Heathcliff.
The scene between Heathcliff and Cathy is very revealing. She blames
Heathcliff and Edgar for breaking her heart, and although she reaffirms her feelings for Heathcliff she does not once say that she regrets marrying Edgar.
Heathcliff responds by saying that she had broken both their hearts. Heathcliff is unable to forgive Cathy and perhaps this is one of the factors that will haunt him later in the novel. When she collapses into Heathcliff’s arms we obtain a clear picture of how Nelly views the scene. She thinks that Cathy has died and makes the remark ‘Far better that she should be dead than a lingering burden and misery maker to all about her.’ Despite Heathcliff’s feelings, which are running high in this scene, he realizes that the best place for Cathy is with Edgar and this is symbolized by his passing her body to Edgar.
Bronte makes it clear to the reader that Cathy’s death will be a blessing to
Nelly, but will signify the start of Heathcliff’s torment.
The central theme of Wuthering Heights is the love between Cathy and
Heathcliff, and Bronte has written the book in such a way that the reader realizes that the cruel actions of Heathcliff stem from the pain of his love for Cathy.
Although Heathcliff dishes out much misery to those around him, the reader can sympathize to some degree. Isabella receives harsh treatment from Heathcliff and she can be regarded as an innocent victim, yet the reader tends to overlook her suffering because their imagination is linked to the passion between Heathcliff and Cathy.