Note: HC is Heathcliff
I know we’ve established that Wuthering Heights is really messed up, but Heathcliff keeps driving that point home. At this point in the novel, He locks Mrs. Dean (I’ve realized the “Mrs.” implies she’s married, but we all know she’s not; anyway, I don’t get it) and Cathy up in a room upstairs for days in an attempt to make Cathy finally marry Linton. Of course she agrees to do so because, despite how he treats her, she still cares for him (though his displays recently have been changing her mind).
Luckily, she is able to make it home to Thrushcross Grange in time to be by her father’s side before his illness eventually takes him. Shortly after, however, HC requires her to come back and take care of Linton at Wuthering Heights, and if the sickly little child wasn’t psychotic before, he definitely is now. He’s always yelling and being just the worst human. I think Mrs. Dean describes him best when she says, “An indefinite alteration had come over his whole person and manner. The pettishness that might be caressed into fondness, had yielded to a listless apathy; there was less of the peevish temper of a child which frets and teases on purpose to be soothed, and more of the self-absorbed moroseness of a confirmed invalid, repelling consolation, and ready to regard the good-humored mirth of others, as an insult” (212).
So, Linton dies convinced everyone is out to get him, and in so doing he makes his death not one to be truly mourned, though Cathy still feels his loss. She becomes angry with Heathcliff for his continued contempt for his now dead son and makes a valid point against him. Here, she says that despite his behavior, Linton was still better off than his father because at least he had someone (Cathy) to love him, whereas “Mr. Heathcliff, you have nobody to love you; and, however miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty rises from your greatest misery! You are miserable, are you not? Lonely, like the devil, and envious like him? Nobody loves you — nobody will cry for you, when you die! I wouldn’t be you!” (232). I feel no pity for him, but I can acknowledge that what she says is true and it’s impacted his behavior. Of course he was horrible as a child, but that could have been corrected. Instead, he got away with it and made a habit of being a putrid human being, which was only worsened by the hardships he faced.
It is a little while after this that Heathcliff makes a weird confession to Nelly. Basically, what happened was a while after Catherine’s death he dug up her body. If that wasn’t crazy enough, he also cracked open her casket like a cold drink on a hot summer day and laid in it with her. Needless to say, I was very put off. I’ve heard speculation from other people that he committed necrophilia at this point, and though I didn’t really see it that way, I wouldn’t put it past him, which is in itself is disgusting.
People always have a lot to say about the endings of books. The thing you hear said the most about endings is that they don’t like them or even hate them, but I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a book that ends in a way that completely meets expectations and ties off every loose end in a satisfying way. That being said, I didn’t hate the ending of Withering Heights. In fact, I felt oddly indifferent, which contrasts completely with how I felt about the entire book up until this point.
I’ve heard people say that the book is boring, and I completely disagree. I hated it ardently, but the fact that my blood was boiling meant it made me feel something, which is most important. This only made it even more disappointing that it ended so blandly.
The end really begins in chapter eighteen of volume II when Mr. Lockwood comes back to Trushcross Grange after leaving for some time (I’m not sure exactly why he left in the first place). The first thing that has noticeably changed is Cathy and Hareton’s relationship. Being stuck in Wuthering Heights with a dead husband and no one to talk to except Mrs. Dean, she soon came to realize the way she treated Hareton was wrong and made amends.
This quickly transformed into a more romantic relationship. It’s obvious that Hareton has always liked her, so I was happy that he got the girl he always wanted, but I thought he deserved better. It seemed like she was settling for him after Linton died, and I think that Hareton is too good to be treated as second best. Nelly was happy though, because the two are like children to her (as if it wasn’t bad enough that they’re cousins).
The rest of the book is Mrs. Dean’s account of Heathcliff’s last weeks alive. One part that struck me about it was when he kind of went of on a monologue saying, “It’s a poor conclusion, is it not… An absurd termination to my violent exertions?… My old enemies have not beaten me — now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their representatives — I could do it; and none could hinder me — But where is the use?” (261). He’s not exactly repenting for what he’s done and having some kind of life altering redemption arc, but he’s acknowledging that what he’s done is ultimately pointless because there is no prize to be had or heart to be won. This would normally be an understandable observation given the circumstances, but for Heathcliff, the fact that he would admit something he’s done isn’t worth anything it huge.
I could go on about his slow crawl to death, but that’s not really what the story is about. He wanted to die. It’s not sad, and in fact, I’m sure many readers wanted that too. I think the point here is that bad intentions will always lead you down a path of misery. This is true for nearly everyone in the novel. Catherine wanted Linton for his money, and Edgar wanted her despite knowing he would crush her spirit; Isabella wanted HC for similar reasons. Finally, Heathcliff actively ruined everyone’s lives to get back at Edgar when Catherine was the one that broke his heart.
In the end, however, once all these wreakers of havoc died off, Cathy and Hareton were able to live a sound content life, while the others finally got to rest at peace.