Chapters 29, 30, 31 and 32
Heathcliff forces Catherine back to Wuthering Heights.
Legally, he through Linton, has the greater claim to the Grange, thus Catherine has no choice, but to obey her father-in-law. Heathcliff will need Catherine at Wuthering Heights in to work for her keep. Ominously, Heathcliff states that he has punished Linton for crossing him in allowing Catherine’s escape and that he will not cross him again.
Heathcliff tells Nelly that since Cathy’s death eighteen years ago, her
ghost has haunted him and that Cathy does not wish Nelly to visit Wuthering Heights.
At Wuthering Heights, Catherine cares for her husband.
She receives no assistance from Zillah or Hareton. After Linton’s death, she becomes a solitary figure at Wuthering Heights.
Heathcliff advises Nelly that she may look for a tenant for the Grange.
Lockwood on visiting Wuthering Heights has a message from Nelly to
Catherine. Hareton takes the note, but eventually gives it to Catherine who mocks him because he is unable to read the note. Being embarrassed by this Hareton throws his books into the fire.
There is, however, a disturbing development unforeseen by Heathcliff in that
Hareton warms towards Catherine. Heathcliff starts to notice Hareton and his similarity to his Aunt Cathy. It seems to gnaw at Heathcliff, as there is now a constant reminder in his home concerning his
After a further six months, Lockwood returns to the area to learn that Nelly
is now at Wuthering Heights.
He is eager to find out what the developments have been since his first visit. Nelly had been summoned to Wuthering Heights to be company for Catherine because Zillah had left. Catherine regrets having humiliated Hareton in the past, and he now avoids Catherine. Heathcliff has become totally reclusive. The unfortunate Hareton is involved in a shooting accident and Catherine eventually agrees that the two should be proper cousins. Catherine even offers to teach Hareton how to read, and tells him that she will not tease him again.
Bronte was much criticized for her morbid and disturbed
writing, and it is safe to assume that she has drawn back from giving the full details of Heathcliff’s cruelty to Linton, being the punishment for crossing him.
This is left to the reader’s imagination, but it is safe to assume that this treatment contributed towards Linton’s death soon after.
Over the previous chapters, the reader has lost all sense of sympathy for
Heathcliff, but now Bronte rekindles this by the revelation that the ghost of Cathy has haunted him ever since her death eighteen years previously.
It is maybe difficult for the current day reader to understand the statement, but certainly for the more superstitious Victorian reader, some sympathy will have been felt for Heathcliff’s ordeal. All he really wishes is to be reunited with Cathy who is always just out of reach for him.
For Chapter 30, there is a further change in narration in that Nelly is not
part of the Wuthering Heights’ household and she obtains her information from Zillah. This brings Nelly’s narrative full-circle, back to Chapter 1 when Lockwood first visited Wuthering Heights.
It is interesting to see that there is a kind of friendship developing
between Hareton and Catherine which is upsetting to Heathcliff, mainly because he cannot abide seeing anyone else happy when he is so miserable.
We also see a slight chink in Heathcliff’s armour, and it seems that his
plans for total revenge are not quite as important to him any longer.
In Chapter 32, Lockwood gives his account of his visit to Wuthering Heights
and he notices significant changes. On this occasion it is summer and the moors have a totally different feel about them, compared to the bleakness of the winter landscape.
When he arrives at Wuthering Heights, the door is unlocked where previously it had been barred. Heathcliff has become withdrawn from everyone and he has allowed a friendship to develop between Catherine and Hareton.
Again we have an example of duality, just as Cathy had sought Heathcliff’s
forgiveness at her death, now Catherine seeks forgiveness from Hareton, and where Heathcliff was unable to forgive Cathy, Hareton finds that he can forgive Catherine.
Catherine and Hareton are allies against the evil that Heathcliff has created. Such action means that the second generation will not repeat the mistakes of the first.
The dark, menace that is Heathcliff prevents light coming into the lives of
the second generation all the while he lives.
The reader has noted Heathcliff’s obsession, but it is not with gaining
absolute revenge, it is with Cathy who haunts him.
Bronte gives us an insight into this obsession by Heathcliff imagining that
he can gaze upon Cathy’s decomposed face, hoping that when he dies, his remains can mix with hers and he feels jealousy over the fact that Edgar’s remains will be allowed to decompose next to hers.
The pressures being suffered by Heathcliff, whether from the supernatural world or whether they are self-inflicted, are having the effect that he is losing control over the happenings in the real world within the farmhouse.
Finally, we need to look critically at Nelly’s narration and her motivation.
It is clear that she has not revealed her true relationship with Heathcliff and her part in helping him to achieve his revenge. It is curious that she wishes to promote Catherine, especially in Lockwood’s eyes. It may be that she considers him to be a potential partner for her and the means by which she can escape from her situation. Yet in many ways, Catherine’s behavior is similar to Cathy’s, and Nelly clearly undermined Cathy at various stages, whereas she now supports Catherine fully and wishes to help her. This is probably one of the reasons why Nelly was keen to narrate the whole story to Lockwood in the first place, and that is why she paints a good picture of Catherine while she does the opposite with Cathy. Therefore, the reader should always take into account Nelly’s motives and realize that she may not be giving an unbiased account of the story.
The reader, therefore, has to consider the validity of all those that have
narrated this story and also consider what has not been said when viewing the story as a whole.
The reader also realizes that we are not heading towards a dramatic climax
in this gothic romance. The tension that has been relevant throughout the whole story emanates from Heathcliff himself, and this is now slowly being released as the effects of Cathy’s ghost reduce Heathcliff
physically and mentally.