Life and Death

Note: HC is Heathcliff

Previously, Heathcliff had made Nelly promise to tell him when Edgar left the house, and now, she is making good on it. Mr. Linton has gone to church and HC is quick in coming to Thrushcross Grange to be with Catherine for what would be the last time. Upon his coming and embracing his only love, Nelly makes the observation that “the same conviction had stricken him as [her], that there was no prospect of ultimate recovery there— she was fated, sure to die” (133).

She dies that night a few hours after giving birth to a little girl, Cathy. She said something before her passing that interested me because it contradicted something she has said earlier. Before she was married she had that dream where she was in heaven, but she was discontent because she longed to be with Heathcliff more than anything. But, when she is waiting for death to greet her, she tells Nelly, “…the thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all. I’m tired, tired of being enclosed here. I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there…” (135). I guess at this point she would rather be dead and never be able to reach Heathcliff again than to live in the world she’s created for herself by marrying Edgar.

Heathcliff is, of course, distraught, and responds in the only way he knows: with anger. Even before her passing, she really only brought him pain from the time she met the Linton’s, but it seems HC had held out hope for their future. He is waiting for her outside by a tree on the hill (which is a common symbol in artwork done for the book) when Mrs. Dean gives him the news. His response is as such: “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you— haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers… Be with me always— take any form— drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!… I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” (140).

This answers the question of what was going on in Mr. Lockwood’s dream when he spent the night at Wuthering Heights. Catherine really is haunting him, which must suck for her. Imagine spending over twenty years unable to reach paradise because someone believes they can lay claim over your soul…

Not even six months have passed when Hindley follows his sister to the grave. Unfortunately, Heathcliff lays claim on Hareton, so Nelly is unable to take him with her. She tried to convince Mr. Linton to put up a fight for him, but it’s obvious he doesn’t care that much, which makes me sad for the little boy. He never did anything wrong but his childhood has been a wreck, riddled with horrible male role models.

Nelly brings up an interesting point in comparing Edgar to Hindley. They went through similar hardships, but with vastly different results. They both had big hearts and cared for their children, but Mrs. Dean observers the difference is “One hoped, and the other despaired: they chose their own lots, and were righteously doomed to endure them” (153).

The last death written here is that of Isabella Linton. Catherine’s death brought an end to her patience with Heathcliff, and she goes as far as to say that if she were him she would “go stretch [herself] over [Catherine’s] grave, and die like a faithful dog…” (148). Following this, she runs off to the city and gives birth to a child, who she names (to the shame and distaste to his father) Linton. She lives thirteen years before passing and, I believe, leaving the child in Edgar’s care.

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