Chapters 16 and 17
Cathy gives birth to a daughter called Catherine. She is two month’s
premature and shortly after, Cathy dies.
Heathcliff soon learns of Cathy’s death and is angered to learn that she did
not mention his name during her dying moments.
He curses her spirit while grieving over his loss. Before the funeral Edgar watches over Cathy’s body by day and Heathcliff watches by night. Cathy wears a locket around her neck, which contains a lock of Edgar’s hair. Heathcliff removes this and replaces it with a lock of his own hair. Nelly finds the strands of Edgar’s hair and ends up entwining both his and Heathcliff’s in the locket. Cathy is buried in the plot closest to the moors away from her relatives and also the Linton tomb.
Isabella arrives at the Grange in a poor state, but she knows that Edgar
will not allow her to stay. She is merely seeking assistance.
There has been confrontation at Wuthering Heights, for when Heathcliff returned from keeping vigil at Cathy’s grave, Hindley locked him out. Hindley wants to murder Heathcliff. Eventually Heathcliff gains access and beats Hindley viciously. The next day the fighting resumes and Isabella makes her escape. After this, Isabella went to London and gave birth to a son, Linton. The brother and sister engage in correspondence and are reconciled to some extent.
Isabella dies 13 years later.
Hindley died 6 months after Cathy’s death and Nelly returned to Wuthering
Heights in order to bring young Hareton back to Thrushcross Grange. It transpires that Hindley was in debt, and Heathcliff had loaned him large amounts of money in order to feed his gambling habits, and he now
owns Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff tells Nelly that he will raise Hareton and that he also plans to take his son, Linton, from Isabella in London.
Edgar receives a double blow, firstly, the birth of a daughter who cannot
legally inherit Thrushcross Grange, and secondly, the death of his wife. He never really recovers from this and retires from society.
Heathcliff’s reaction to Cathy’s death by requesting that she haunts him ‘I
cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!’ indicates that he is devastated by the loss of his one true love.
Edgar shows that he did have a deep love for Cathy and appreciates her love
for the moors, and therefore orders her to be buried next to them. His wish for Cathy is that she will find peace.
So far the reader has been tolerant of Heathcliff’s behavior, but the severe
beating he gives Hindley is a further indication that he has become bitter and twisted.
It is not made clear the cause of Hindley’s death shortly afterwards, but
the probable answer is that he was driven to suicide by Heathcliff and literally drank himself to death.
It is now revealed that Heathcliff has designs on the future of both Linton
and Hareton, and one should note that he refers to his son Linton as ‘it’. In effect, Hareton has been robbed of the family home. Heathcliff controls the property, as he owns the mortgage on it.
The end of Chapter 17 signifies the half way stage of the novel.
One might say that it marks the end of the first generation, and the beginning of the second. Heathcliff and Hareton are at Wuthering Heights, while the now reclusive Edgar and Catherine are at Thrushcross Grange. In the second part of the novel, there is a certain duality of plot, with Heathcliff pursuing his vengeful scheming, determined to destroy anyone who crosses his path.