Chapters 3 and 4
Zillah takes Lockwood to a bedroom that has not been
used for quite some time as Heathcliff keeps it sealed.
In the room he discovers three diaries, which have the following names written on them – Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, and Catherine Linton. Lockwood decides to read the contents. The entries reveal that Cathy is friendly with Heathcliff, but that her brother Hindley treats Heathcliff badly.
Lockwood falls asleep, but a branch tapping on the window awakens him.
In order to reach the branch Lockwood pushes his hand through the window, but an ice-cold hand grabs him. He tries to struggle free, but then hears a voice crying out ‘Let me in, let me in’. The voice identifies itself as Catherine Linton. Eventually he breaks free and piles the books against the hole in the window. When they begin to fall, he screams. Heathcliff bursts into the room declaring that it is haunted and Lockwood must leave. When Lockwood mentions the name Catherine, this brings anguish to Heathcliff’s face.
Lockwood spends the rest of the night in the kitchen and when it is dawn he
returns to the Grange, soaked and chilled.
When Lockwood recovers from his ordeal he is very curious about the
occupants of Wuthering Heights and he asks Nelly for any information. Nelly advises him that Catherine Linton (Cathy) is the daughter of her late master, Mr. Earnshaw.
Nelly was a servant at Wuthering Heights when Cathy, her brother Hindley, and Heathcliff were growing up. Cathy is the last of the Lintons and Hareton is the last of the Earnshaws. Nelly also reveals that Heathcliff had married Mr. Linton’s sister Isabella.
These snippets of information only increase Lockwood’s curiosity further and
he encourages Nelly to tell him the complete history of the events.
She begins her story at Wuthering Heights when Mr. Earnshaw, the master,
brought home an orphan boy from Liverpool and named him Heathcliff, after a son of his who had died in childbirth.
Mr. Earnshaw had two children, Cathy and Hindley, but over the years he grew to love Heathcliff more than his own son Hindley. Cathy initially disliked the sallow-skinned Heathcliff but soon grew to love him, and they would spend many happy hours running over the moors.
Hindley was sent away to school, thus increasing the rift with his father.
Mrs. Earnshaw died within two years of Heathcliff’s arrival.
In this note we refer to Catherine Linton, nee Earnshaw
(Heathcliff’s love) as Cathy.
What we have seen of Heathcliff in the first two chapters gives the reader
the impression that he is heartless and cold, but there is now an indication that he is a deeply passionate man, tormented over the loss of Cathy.
The reader is already aware that there is a complex and intriguing tale to
be told, but Bronte cleverly introduces another element, that of the supernatural, in Chapter 3.
Lockwood has come into direct physical contact with the ghost of Cathy, who
died 18 years previously, and this specter is waiting for Heathcliff. Cynics may say that she is a product of Lockwood’s imagination, and it is clear that Bronte has presented these facts in this way so that
the reader can make up his or her own mind on the subject.
The ghost of Cathy is not a true spirit, for Lockwood in order to release himself, pulls Cathy’s wrist down onto the broken glass causing blood to flow.
Bronte also cleverly whets the reader’s appetite by revealing important
extracts from the diaries, almost like a prelude to what is about to be revealed.
Lockwood’s experiences at Wuthering Heights prompt him to ask Nelly Dean,
also known as Ellen, to give him details about the history of Wuthering Heights.
From this point, Nelly becomes the primary narrator of the novel. Her description of Heathcliff’s arrival at Wuthering Heights makes the reader sympathetic for both Heathcliff and Hindley. Hindley’s reaction is understandable, as Heathcliff has replaced him in the home, although he was closer to his mother, when she dies 2 years later, he is left utterly alone.
The description of Cathy and Heathcliff’s childhoods clearly indicates that
these were happy times for them both when they were away from the house.
Although Cathy is portrayed as a loving daughter, she could also be defiant and cruel. In reaction to the negative side of Cathy’s nature, Heathcliff would be sullen and vindictive. These early chapters are important in understanding how the characters of Cathy and Heathcliff develop.