Chapters 5, 6 and 7
Mr. Earnshaw’s health is failing and he will not hear a
bad word against Heathcliff, further alienating Hindley, who is sent away. His servant, Joseph, who is a religious fanatic, has more and more influence over his master.
Cathy does not realize the seriousness of her father’s condition and this
only hits her when he dies.
Heathcliff consoles Cathy with talk of the afterlife.
Hindley returns for his father’s funeral accompanied by his new wife,
Frances. He immediately takes control of the farmhouse, moving the servants Joseph and Nelly to the back kitchen, and Heathcliff is to receive no education. He forces him to become the farm laborer.
Heathcliff and Cathy are still able to escape the real world and play on the
One day, the pair disappears and Hindley orders the doors to be bolted when
night draws in.
Nelly waits up for them, but Heathcliff returns alone saying that Cathy is at Thrushcross Grange. They had entered the gardens of the Grange with a view to watching Edgar and Isabella Linton, the children of the Linton household in order to make fun of them. They were discovered, and the Lintons’ dog bit Cathy, and she was unable to escape. A servant came out and carried Cathy into the Grange. Mr. And Mrs. Linton say that Cathy’s injury is too serious, and she must spend the night at the Grange, but Heathcliff is sent away. Mr. Linton calls on Hindley the next day and chastises him over the way he is raising his sister. Hindley takes his anger out on Heathcliff, telling him that he will be thrown out if he ever talks to Cathy again. Cathy remains at the Grange for 5 weeks, during which time Mrs. Linton is determined to transform the wild girl from the moors into a young lady.
When she eventually returns to Wuthering Heights she has undergone a
transformation. She humiliates Heathcliff in front of Hindley by saying that he looks dirty and is no comparison to Edgar Linton.
Heathcliff is deeply hurt by this insult and by the change that has taken place in Cathy. Hindley decides to invite the Lintons for dinner and they agree, provided that Heathcliff is kept away from their children. Hindley agrees. Despite this, Nelly encourages Heathcliff to make himself presentable for when the Lintons arrive.
When the Lintons arrive, Heathcliff is sent to the kitchen, but he overhears
Edgar insulting him and he throws hot applesauce in Edgar’s face. Heathcliff is locked in the attic. Cathy blames Edgar for getting Heathcliff into trouble and after dinner she sneaks away to visit
Heathcliff. Heathcliff tells Nelly that he will get his revenge on Hindley one day.
Up until this point, the reader is somewhat confused
regarding the complex relationships between all the Earnshaws, Lintons, Heathcliff and the two Catherine’s, but now that we are finally hearing the complete story from the start, the pieces of the jigsaw will start
to fall into place.
Bronte deliberately makes these early chapters ambiguous in an attempt to
arouse the curiosity of the reader and this succeeds, especially with the hint that there is a supernatural element to the tale.
This is highlighted by Heathcliff’s reaction to the news that Lockwood has seen a ghost and the reader can now be certain that they will be told a dark gothic story.
In Chapter 5, we see how the bond between Cathy and Heathcliff grows and the
extent of their love is demonstrated when Mr. Earnshaw dies.
Although none of the Earnshaw household can be described as religious, good
and evil are present throughout the story. Joseph’s religion is more superstition, and Cathy and Heathcliff’s view of heaven is more fitting of a fairy tale.
We have the first indication that the feelings Cathy and Heathcliff share
are not related to earthly love, but more a spiritual bond. When they are together on the moors they become wild creatures, or as Hindley describes ‘as savages’. It is only here that you can see their
true nature. They enjoy the rough freedom of this environment, which is in sharp contrast to the world of Thrushcross Grange.
Cathy’s confinement here enables her to experience a totally different
world, a world that is safe from the harsh elements of the moors. This is where the Linton children have grown up, spoilt and unfulfilled, and unprepared to face the harsh reality of the real world.
When Cathy recovers from her run-in with the Lintons’ dog, she has undergone
a transformation thanks to Mrs. Linton. She now wishes to improve herself socially and recognizes Heathcliff, not as her rebellious friend, but as a member of the lower classes, because of his untidy
appearance. It should be noted that the Lintons had a higher social standing than the Earnshaws.
Cathy wishes to live in a world of luxury and sophistication and in doing so
she rejects everything that Heathcliff stands for.
At Thrushcross Grange, Cathy was treated like a queen, whereas Heathcliff was shown the door. He will never be welcomed at the Grange. One must remember, however, that this is Nelly’s narration, obtained from details given to her by Heathcliff, so the reader is obtaining this information third or even fourth-hand. It is safe to assume that the actual facts may have been twisted by Heathcliff’s account of them.
During Chapter 7, we obtain details of the first major change in Cathy’s
character, but there is still a bond between them as indicated by her secret visit to Heathcliff when he is locked in the attic.