Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Wrap-up Discussion Post

Bookish Moment

While I’ve been reading Wuthering Heights, I have also been reading The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I love the Twilight movies but have yet to read the books. So for October, I decided to read through the series. During this last section of reading for Wuthering Heights, I was in book 3 of the the Twilight series called Eclipse and the characters Edward and Bella are discussing Wuthering Heights. Here is part of their conversation:

‘Photographic memory or not, I don’t understand why you like it. The characters are ghastly people who ruin each others’ lives. I don’t know how Heathcliff and Cathy ended up being ranked with couples like Romeo and Juliet or Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. It isn’t a love story, it’s a hate story.’” (p. 28)

And then later in their conversation, there’s this:

“His face was thoughtful as he considered my words. After a moment he smiled a teasing smile. ‘I still think it would be a better story if either of them had one redeeming quality.’

‘I think that may be the point,’ I disagreed. ‘Their love is their only redeeming quality.'” (p. 29)

Just curious, what do you think about this point of redemption? Do you think their love is their only redeeming quality?

Edward says he doesn’t know how Heathcliff and Catherine got ranked with couples such as Romeo and Juliet. Consider a comparison of these two couples. Romeo and Juliet were kept apart by family and the society of their time. On the other hand, Heathcliff and Catherine were, by and large, the ones that kept themselves apart from one another.

Wrap-Up Discussion

All the questions below are taken from the discussion guide I provided at the beginning of the read-along. You can find the link to download the free discussion guide HERE.

  1. Who is the main narrator of the story and what are the advantages/disadvantages of this point of view for the reader?

The main narrator of the story is Nelly. Lockwood is the other narrator but I would consider him a secondary narrator since Nelly does the bulk of narrating. Nelly narrating the story is an advantage because she is an eye witness to a lot of what she talks about. However, having a narrator means you are likely getting the story from his/her perspective. Is Nelly then an unreliable narrator? Likely. Could the story have had a different take if it had been told from a different character’s perspective? Very likely.

2. What can be observed about Heathcliff and Catherine at the beginning of the novel that might give the reader insight into these characters later in the story (characteristics, actions, responses, etc.)?

If you notice, their relationship started out antagonistic when Catherine’s father brought Heathcliff home. But then Catherine and Heathcliff began to grow closer to one another. How would you consider their love? Do you think it was more obsessive than anything?

3. Emily Brontë did an excellent job creating unlikable characters. Were these characters completely unlikable or did any have at least one redeeming moment at some point in the novel?

Brontë created some complex characters. Even though Heathcliff is definitely our gothic villain, we feel sorry for him at least in the beginning when we see how he was treated as a child (this is why he is technically a gothic hero-villain). When I think about a character that definitely had unlikeable moments but also likeable times, I think of Little Cathy. She took care of Linton. She was mean to Hareton which were definitely moments that made her very unlikeable. But towards the end we see her being likeable again and see a redeeming moment here:

“Then she comprehended that Earnshaw took the master’s reputation home to himself; and was attached by ties stronger than reason could break – chains, forged by habit, which it would be cruel to attempt to loosen. She showed a good heart, thenceforth, in avoiding both complaints and expressions of antipathy concerning Heathcliff; and confessed to me her sorrow that she had endeavoured to raise a bad spirit between him and Hareton; indeed I don’t believe she has ever breathed a syllable, in the latter’s hearing, against her oppressor since.”

4. Wuthering Heights is often described as a love story. Do you agree or disagree and why?

When I read this novel for the first time, I didn’t see this as a classic love story. I saw it as a story about obsessive love. As I read it this second time, I did see a glimpse of more of the classic love story, but still think by and large it’s about obsessive love. I’m curious to hear what you think!

5. Do you think Wuthering Heights as a place has a strong presence in the novel?

I think Wuthering Heights has a very strong presence in the novel. It’s very much like Manderley in the novel Rebecca. What do you think? And along those same lines, what about the presence of Thrushcross Grange?

Please share your thoughts on the questions and the novel in general in the comments.

Important Notice about Great Expectations Read-Along

I have been looking forward to reading Great Expectations with others as part of our Fall Classic Gothic Literature Read-Along. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I need to cancel the read-along. I hope to be able to still host a read-along for this Dickens novel at some point. If there is still interest in reading this together, let’s discuss a future date that might work. Let me know in the comments. Thanks for understanding!

Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Week 4, Chapters 26-34

Ch. 26

Cathy and Linton meet up. However, Linton seems like it’s more of a chore or responsibility to meet with her. He seems as if he has gotten worse instead of better. Nelly described him as having a lack of interest in the topics of conversation, not being able to contribute to entertaining Cathy, and an overall sense of apathy. Cathy was disappointed and frustrated. But Nelly said Cathy’s displeasure “softened into a perplexed sensation of pity and regret, largely blended with vague, uneasy doubts about Linton’s actual circumstances, physical and social…” (p. 252) Nelly encouraged a second visit before saying much because a second visit with Linton might help them judge the scenario better.

Ch. 27

Cathy and Linton’s next meeting was once again a tumultuous one. Linton had expressed in both meetings how he feared his father. During this meeting, Heathcliff showed up. Heathcliff was harsh with Linton. Linton begged Cathy to not leave him. In the end, Cathy and Nelly went with Linton and Heathcliff back to Wuthering Heights. When they got there, Heathcliff bolted the door and that startled Nelly. Cathy made it clear to Heathcliff that she was not afraid of him. She insisted that her and Nelly would be leaving. A bout of violence occurred between Cathy and Heathcliff. Nelly sprung on Heathcliff and then about fainted away. It was all over in a matter of minutes. Heathcliff left to get their horses and Nelly saw it as a potential opportunity to escape; but they could find no way to get out.

They discover from Linton what Heathcliff was planning. He was planning that Cathy and Linton would be married in the morning. And as long as they did as Heathcliff wished, they would be allowed to return home the next day with Linton with them. I have to stop here and wonder – did Linton purposely put on an act before in order to get Cathy and Nelly to Wuthering Heights – whether for his own purpose or out of fear of Heathcliff?

Heathcliff returned. He claimed that their horses had “trotted off”. (p. 261) No amount of pleading on Cathy’s part to return home or at least let Nelly return home worked. In the end, they could not get out and had to stay the night. Heathcliff came and got Cathy the next morning, shutting Nelly back up in the room when they left. Heathcliff kept Nelly locked up in that room for five nights and four days. During that time she only saw Hareton once in the mornings when he brought her food for the day. About Hareton she said, “…he was a model of a jailor:  surly, and dumb, and deaf to every attempt at moving his sense of justice or compassion.” (p. 264)’

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Ch. 28

Zillah returned and went to Nelly. She told her the tale that was being told around the village which was that Nelly had been lost in a marsh, had been found, and Heathcliff let her stay at Wuthering Heights. Nelly was released. She went downstairs, looking for Catherine, but only found Linton. He said Cathy was upstairs, that they were married, and he spoke harshly about Cathy and had been treating her terribly. He had taken his father’s side and believed the things he said.

Nelly went back to the Grange to get help. Edgar said he needed to change his will so that Cathy’s fortune would be left in the care of trustees so she and/or her children would have access to it. Nelly sent for the lawyer. A little later, Cathy showed up at the Grange. She made it in time. She went in to see her father and shortly after he died peacefully.

The lawyer did not make it in time before Edgar died. Nelly said that the lawyer “sold himself to Mr. Heathcliff:  that was the cause of his delay in obeying my master’s summons.” (p. 271) Linton ended up helping Cathy escape from Wuthering Heights; but he suffered the consequences for helping her.

Ch. 29

On the evening of the funeral, Heathcliff came to the Grange and demanded Cathy return to Wuthering Heights. Nelly suggested that Cathy stay at the Grange and Linton come to her; but Heathcliff would have none of that. He had plans to rent it out. Cathy said she would go. Heathcliff talked about the bad nature of Linton and Cathy was bold in talking back to him. She said:

“‘I know he has a bad nature,’ said Catherine:  ‘he’s your son. But I’m glad I’ve a better, to forgive it; and I know he loves me, and for that reason I love him. 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 arises from your greater 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!’” (p. 274)

Nelly requested that she and Zillah switch places so that she could be at Wuthering Heights with Cathy; but Heathcliff refused. He saw a portrait of Catherine and said it was to be moved to Wuthering Heights. Then he talked to Nelly and told her how the night before he had the sexton uncover Catherine’s grave. He said how her face looked as it did eighteen years ago. We might find this hard to believe. But actually, I read that the peat in the soil around Haworth had kind of an embalming effect. If you go back to Chapter 3, Lockwood actually makes mention of this when talking about a chapel:

“We came to the chapel. I have passed it really in my walks, twice or thrice; it lies in a hollow, between two hills; an elevated hollow, near a swamp, whose peaty moisture is said to answer all the purposes of embalming on the few corpses deposited there.” (p. 23)

Heathcliff told the sexton to bury his body next to hers whenever he dies. Nelly was appalled at this and questioned how he wasn’t concerned for disturbing the dead. He went on to tell her of how Catherine has been haunting him now for eighteen years. He also told her of how the evening of the day she was buried, he went and dug up Catherine’s coffin. But while he was trying to get the screws out, he felt her presence. It comforted him, yet tortured him. And ever since, he felt that he could almost see her but just not quite. After he finished talking, he and Cathy left.

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Ch. 30

Nelly paid a visit to Wuthering Heights but Joseph wouldn’t let her see Cathy. She found out through Zillah that Cathy was in complete charge of taking care of Linton. Heathcliff didn’t care whether Linton lived or died. One night, Cathy went to Zillah and told her Linton was dying. Finally Heathcliff came in to the room, but Linton was already dead.

Cathy was ill. She stayed in her room for two weeks. Heathcliff informed her that Linton left everything to him.

“He had bequeathed the whole of his, and what had been her, moveable property, to his father:  the poor creature was threatened, or coaxed, into that act during her week’s absence, when his uncle died….Catherine, destitute of cash and friends, cannot disturb his possession.” (p. 280-281)

Zillah told Nelly that one day when Heathcliff was gone, Cathy came downstairs. She was very cold and not nice at all. She had become the unfriendly person that Lockwood met that day when he visited Wuthering Heights.

Nelly wanted to get a cottage and have Cathy live with her; but she remarked that Heathcliff would not allow that. So she could see no solution except that Cathy could marry again. However, Nelly was in no position to try to bring that about. And that’s where Nelly ended her story.

Lockwood narrates again at this point and says that he is recovering well. He says that he plans to go to Wuthering Heights and tell Heathcliff that he will be going to London for about six months; therefore, Heathcliff can look for another tenant for Thrushcross Grange. He was not about to spend another winter there.

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Ch. 31

Lockwood is narrating now. He went to Wuthering Heights. Cathy was unfriendly as before. Nelly had sent a letter with Lockwood for Cathy. Lockwood tried to slip the note to her in a way that Hareton wouldn’t notice; but she questioned what it was. Hareton swooped in, picked up the letter, and put it in his pocket. But he softened about it and threw it on the floor at Cathy. She read it. She and Hareton talked back and forth about books and learning. Cathy made fun at Hareton’s attempt at learning to read and it provoked him. He put some books in her lap but she continued to mock him. He slapped her, threw the books into the fire, and left.

When Hareton was leaving, Heathcliff walked in. Cathy had seen him through the window approaching and ran out to the kitchen; so Lockwood was left alone when Heathcliff came in. Lockwood explained that he would not be staying at the Grange. Heathcliff said he would still be responsible for payment for the remaining months of his contract with him to which Lockwood said he would pay it. Heathcliff invited him to stay for dinner – which he did. But he said it was a cheerless meal. Heathcliff had banished Cathy to the kitchen to eat her meal with Joseph.

When Lockwood left, he ruminated about what things were like there at Wuthering Heights. The chapter ends with him commenting, “‘What a realisation of something more romantic than a fairy tale it would have been for Mrs. Linton Heathcliff, had she and I struck up an attachment, as her good nurse desired, and migrated together into the stirring atmosphere of the town!’” (p. 290)

Ch. 32

The chapter starts with the familiar mark of time we saw in the very first chapter. 1802. Lockwood had returned to the area and decided to lodge at Thrushcross Grange. When he arrived there, Nelly was no longer there. The new person there said Nelly had gone to Wuthering Heights. He ventured to Wuthering Heights and as he approached, through one of the windows he heard and saw a young man trying to read and a young lady who looked like she was teaching him. When he did well, she rewarded him with kisses and he returned the kisses. He knew it was Hareton and thus didn’t want to be seen. He went around to the kitchen and there he saw Nelly.

Nelly recognized him and seemed glad to see him. He told her he wanted to settle his rent payments with Heathcliff but she told him Heathcliff had died about three months back. He was shocked and asked her to tell what happened.

Nelly shared how a couple of weeks after Lockwood left, Heathcliff summoned her to Wuthering Heights. She went. She was happy to see Cathy but Cathy’s personality had changed some. Then she shared about a whole interchange between Cathy and Hareton that resulted in them finally becoming friends.

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Ch. 33

One day, Nelly found Cathy and Hareton planting a garden in the middle of Joseph’s currant bushes. She warned them that he would be mad about that. Sure enough, later when they were all eating, Joseph came in and went on about what they’d done. Hareton said he had dug some of the bushes up but was planning to re-plant them. However, Cathy said that it was all her idea. She and Heathcliff argued. Heathcliff got mad and told Hareton to throw Cathy out of the room.  Hareton quietly tried to convince Cathy to leave. Heathcliff ended up grabbing Cathy by the hair but finally released her and told all of them to go. They all left and Heathcliff was left alone until dinner. During dinner, they were all there but Heathcliff did not say anything. Afterwards, he left and intimated that he would not be back until evening. 

Later, Hareton and Cathy were talking and Hareton asked Cathy not to speak ill of Heathcliff. We see a change in Cathy here.

“Then she comprehended that Earnshaw took the master’s reputation home to himself; and was attached by ties stronger than reason could break – chains, forged by habit, which it would be cruel to attempt to loosen. She showed a good heart, thenceforth, in avoiding both complaints and expressions of antipathy concerning Heathcliff; and confessed to me her sorrow that she had endeavoured to raise a bad spirit between him and Hareton; indeed I don’t believe she has ever breathed a syllable, in the latter’s hearing, against her oppressor since.” (p. 307)

Heathcliff noticed the resemblances of Catherine in both Cathy and Hareton. He talked to Nelly about how he hardly even took interest in daily life anymore. Nelly questioned if he was ill but realized that wasn’t the case. As he went on about how Catherine haunted him in different ways, he showed why he felt the way he did about Hareton:

“…‘In the first place, his startling likeness to Catherine connected him fearfully with her…Hareton’s aspect was the ghost of my immortal love; of my wild endeavours to hold my right; my degradation, my pride, my happiness, and my anguish – But it is frenzy to repeat these thoughts to you:  only it will let you know why, with a reluctance to be always alone, his society is no benefit; rather an aggravation of the constant torment I suffer…’” (p. 309-310)

When you really think about how Heathcliff sees Catherine in everything like that, maybe this is Brontë’s way of describing a haunting. Which, by the way, fits the characteristics of gothic literature. Heathcliff may not be haunted by an actual ghost that he sees; but he is haunted by Catherine in his mind. To him, she’s everywhere he turns. This gives the scenario more a feeling of madness than an actual scary, eerie feel. Nelly even comments:

“He began to pace the room, muttering terrible things to himself, till I was inclined to believe, as he said Joseph did, that conscience had turned his heart to an earthly hell. I wondered greatly how it would end. Though he seldom before had revealed this state of mind, even by looks, it was his habitual mood, I had no doubt…” (p. 310-311)

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2005 Barnes & Noble Classics Hardback Edition

Ch. 34

Heathcliff began roaming outside at night and ate very little. Cathy came across him at one point and described him as being excited and wild. What was going on with Heathcliff? Nelly wondered this very thing. When she questioned him, he told her he was “‘…within sight of my heaven. I have my eyes on it:  hardly three feet to sever me!…’” (p. 314) One wonders from this statement what Heathcliff was up to.

Heathcliff began acting more and more strange and uttering things to himself.

“I distinguished Mr. Heathcliff’s step, restlessly measuring the floor, and he frequently broke the silence by a deep inspiration, resembling a groan. He muttered detached words also; the only one I could catch was the name of Catherine, coupled with some wild term of endearment or suffering; and spoken as one would speak to a person present…” (p. 317)

Heathcliff seemed to decline more and more and it appeared he was sinking into a madness of sorts. Then one morning, Nelly was taking her walk outside and noticed Heathcliff’s window open and the rain pouring into the room. She went to see if Heathcliff was in his room and she found him there dead.

They buried Heathcliff as he had requested. Nelly commented that tales would be heard that Heathcliff would be seen about the church and the moors and even at the Heights. It was said that even two could be seen sometimes. Nelly didn’t want to believe it until one time, she came across a boy tending some sheep. The sheep wouldn’t budge and Nelly asked what was the matter. The little boy said he saw Heathcliff and a woman ahead and wouldn’t dare pass. After that, Nelly didn’t like to be alone in Wuthering Heights.

As the novel comes to a close, we learn that Cathy and Hareton were engaged and that Joseph would remain to tend to Wuthering Heights. As Lockwood walked home, he noticed the bad state of disrepair the church was in. He also noticed the graves of Edgar, Catherine, and Heathcliff.

“I lingered round them, under that benign sky:  watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.” (p. 323)

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And that concludes our reading of Wuthering Heights. I will post a wrap-up discussion post for the whole book tomorrow as well as share a bookish moment I had that relates to our novel.

Today, let’s consider: How are the relationships between Catherine and Heathcliff and Cathy and Hareton similar and/or different?

Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Week 3, Chapters 22-25

Ch. 22

Edgar got sick and was confined indoors all winter. This was hard for Cathy. Nelly tried to help keep her company when she had time. One day, Cathy and Nelly went out. Cathy was sitting on a wall when her hat fell off. She climbed down the other side to get her hat but could not climb back up. Nelly tried all her keys to see if she could get the gate unlocked but none worked. Then Heathcliff showed up. He said Linton was not doing well and getting worse and worse all because Cathy quit writing to him. Heathcliff said, “‘…he’s going to his grave, and none but you can save him!’” (p. 225) He admitted, “‘…I’ll own to you that I have little patience with Linton; and Hareton and Joseph have less. I’ll own that he’s with a harsh set. He pines for kindness, as well as love; and a kind word from you would be his best medicine.’” (p. 225-226)

Nelly managed to get Catherine and herself home; but she could tell Cathy’s heart was heavy. They had tea together and Cathy stretched out on the rug and cried. Nelly went on about Heathcliff, ridiculing him and his speech about his son. But Cathy would not be deterred. Nelly yielded and the next day, they were off to Wuthering Heights.

Ch. 23

Nelly and Cathy arrived at Wuthering Heights. Cathy and Linton saw one another but Linton was not very welcoming when they arrived. As they talked, they argued over their fathers. Linton was sickly; but he was also petty and acted as a spoiled child. Nelly and Cathy went home. Nelly didn’t like what she saw of Linton. She thought he was very ill-tempered and was glad that he hadn’t been at the Grange with them. Cathy felt that if she could come regularly to Wuthering Heights, she could nurse him back to health.  Nelly told Cathy that if she even tried to go back to Wuthering Heights, she would tell her father.

Nelly ended up getting sick and was confined to her room. Catherine was an excellent nurse and took care of both Nelly and her father. Her time in the day was spent taking care of the two of them; but her evenings were free. Nelly didn’t know what Cathy did with her evening time. But she noticed, “a fresh colour in her cheeks and a pinkness over her slender fingers, instead of fancying the hue borrowed from a cold ride across the moors, I laid it to the charge of a hot fire in the library.” (p. 234)

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Moorland Landscape with a Tree by Walter Bertram Potter

Ch. 24

After Nelly began feeling better and could finally leave her room, she discovered that Catherine was gone one day. Catherine admitted to having been going to visit Wuthering Heights each day to help take care of Linton. She went on to describe how her visits went. There was one day when Hareton told her he could read the sign above the door but not the numbers. Cathy made fun of him, calling him a dunce. It seemed to embarrass Hareton. Nelly scolded Cathy for how she treated Hareton in that situation.

A little later, Cathy and Linton were in the house when Hareton stormed in angrily. He yanked Linton up and threw him out of the room and demanded Cathy leave the room as well. Then he slammed the door. Cathy remarked that Linton looked terrible; but he went to the door and started banging on it telling Hareton to let him in or he’d kill him. Cathy tried to stop him; but then he started coughing. Blood came out of his mouth and he fell to the floor.  Cathy went for Zillah. When she returned, Hareton was taking Linton upstairs. He forbid Cathy to enter and told her to go home. There was some arguing; and she left. On her way home, Hareton stopped her but she cut him with her whip and hurried home.

Three days later Cathy went back to Wuthering Heights to see about Linton. He was on the mend but insisted Cathy was to blame for the whole thing. Cathy left. A couple days later she went back and they reconciled. In the course of the conversation that day, Linton said the following:

“…‘Only, Catherine, do me this justice:  believe that if I might be as sweet, and as kind, and as good as you are, I would be; as willingly, and more so, than as happy and as healthy. And believe that your kindness has made me love you deeper than if I deserved your love:  and though I couldn’t, and cannot help showing my nature to you, I regret it and repent it; and shall regret and repent it till I die!’” (p. 243)

Cathy described their time together after that:  “‘About three times, I think, we have been merry and hopeful, as we were the first evening; the rest of my visits were dreary and troubled:  now with his selfishness and spite, and now with his sufferings:  but I’ve learned to endure the former with nearly as little resentment as the latter.’
(p. 243-244)

She told Nelly she had told her all but please don’t tell her father. She needed to continue going to Wuthering Heights but her father didn’t need to know and so no one would be upset. Nelly told her she would have to think about it and left. Only Nelly went directly to her father and told her all that had happened, omitting some of the details. Cathy found out that Nelly had betrayed her confidence. She was no longer allowed to go to Wuthering Heights. But her father said Linton could come to the Grange whenever he liked.

File:John Linnell (1792-1882) - Sunset over a Moorland Landscape - PD.7-1950 - Fitzwilliam Museum.jpg
Sunset Over a Moorland Landscape by John Linnell

Ch. 25

Nelly explains to Lockwood that these events she just finished talking about happened just about a year ago. Cathy was obedient to her father’s wishes. Edgar sent a letter requesting Linton to visit and Linton responded that his father forbade it. He asked Linton to ride out with Cathy so they could meet up with him somewhere in order to see each other. Edgar said he could not since he wouldn’t be able to ride with Catherine; but maybe in the summer they could do so. He asked Linton to continue to write. Linton did so but couldn’t fully write all that he might want to because Heathcliff kept a close eye on him.

“…so, instead of penning his peculiar personal sufferings and distresses, the themes constantly uppermost in his thoughts, he harped on the cruel obligation of being held asunder from his friend and love; and gently intimated that Mr. Linton must allow an interview soon, or he should fear he was purposely deceiving him with empty promises.” (p. 247-248)

Cathy and Linton eventually persuaded Edgar to allow them to have a ride or walk together once a week under Nelly’s supervision. Edgar was declining; but it seemed no one realized that Linton was declining also.

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In this week’s reading, we really get a look at the relationship between Cathy and Linton. How is their relationship similar and different from the relationship Catherine (Cathy’s mother) and Heathcliff (Linton’s father) had?

Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Week 3, Chapters 17-21

Ch. 17

The weather had changed. Edgar kept to his room and Nelly made the parlor into a nursery. One day, as she was sitting with baby Catherine, Isabella dashed in. She had fled Wuthering Heights. Nelly inquired as to why Isabella had fled. Isabella had realized what a monster Heathcliff was and how he truly felt about her – he detested her; hated her. She said, “He has extinguished my love effectually, and so I’m at my ease…” (p. 168)

Isabella described what things had been like at Wuthering Heights since Catherine’s death. She talked about the atmosphere and how Heathcliff went back and forth between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. She said, “…for it seemed as if all joy had vanished from the world, never to be restored.” (p. 170)

Isabella described a horrendous encounter between Heathcliff and Hindley, when they wouldn’t let Heathcliff in the house. He managed to get in and beat Hindley senseless. He dragged Hindley (who was unconscious) to the settle. He pushed Joseph to his knees and told him to clean up the mess and also Isabella to clean up too. He treated them abominably. Isabella said, “I departed to my own room, marveling that I had escaped so easily.” (p. 174)

Hindley was very sick from all that happened. Isabella told him how Heathcliff continued to beat him up after he was unconscious. Heathcliff was in the room in some sort of agony, obviously mourning Catherine. He finally told Isabella to get out of his sight. To which she responded how she had loved Catherine too and that her brother needed assistance so she would help him. They both continued this sort of interchange until Heathcliff grabbed a dinner knife from the table and threw it at her. It stuck beneath her ear (which was the source of the blood Nelly observed when Isabella first arrived at the Grange). She retaliated and fled from Wuthering Heights straight to the Grange.

Isabella stopped talking, took a sip of tea, then left. It appeared that she went to London and several months later gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Linton. She described Linton as being “an ailing, peevish creature.” (p. 178)

Heathcliff tried to get Nelly to tell him where Isabella was but she refused. He still found out somehow and also found out about the child; still he didn’t pursue her. But he told Nelly that he would have the child if he wanted to. Years later when the child was around 12 years old or so, Isabella died.

Nelly told of how grief turned Edgar into a hermit. But it didn’t last.

“Time brought resignation, and a melancholy sweeter than common joy. He recalled her memory with ardent, tender love, and hopeful aspiring to the better world; where he doubted not she was gone.” (p. 179)

Hindley died about six months after Catherine’s death. Nelly saw to the funeral arrangements. Nelly wanted to take Hareton back with her to the Grange but Heathcliff would not have it. He threatened that if Edgar pursued taking Hareton, he would take Edgar and Catherine’s son Linton. So Nelly let it be.

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Moorland Scene Near Hathersage

Chapter 18

The chapter starts with Nelly describing little Catherine. Then she talked about Edgar and Isabella. Isabella had contacted Edgar before she died imploring him to come to her and take little Linton home with him and look after him. Edgar did not hesitate. Little Cathy had a hard time the first couple of days her father was away. But then Nelly found a way of entertainment to help her. They would pretend tales. Then one day little Cathy was out and about but did not come back. They couldn’t find her.

Finally, Nelly found her at Wuthering Heights. A servant said she was there and both Heathcliff and Joseph were gone. Nelly found Catherine perfectly content. Hareton was there as well (he was now 18 years old; little Catherine was 13 years old) and was very curious about her. Nelly scolded her and tried to get her to leave with her but Catherine kept giving Nelly the run-around. She thought the master of the house was Hareton’s father but he said no. She ordered him to get her horse and he spoke to her meanly. She ordered the woman to and she wouldn’t either. Little Catherine couldn’t understand how they could be allowed to speak to her that way. Nelly explained that Hareton was her cousin; to which Catherine was appalled at the idea. Catherine seemed distressed; and her distress appeared to have moved Hareton. He went and got her pony and also gave her a dog; but she rejected the dog. And they headed home.

Nelly talked about Hareton. She also described Joseph’s view towards Hareton.

“…so at present he laid the whole burden of Hareton’s faults on the shoulders of the usurper of his property…It gave Joseph satisfaction, apparently, to watch him go the worst lengths:  he allowed that the lad was ruined:  that his soul was abandoned to perdition; but then he reflected that Heathcliff must answer for it.” (p. 191)

She explained that she heard from the villagers that Heathcliff was stingy and a cruel landlord. But that as far as how things were within the home of Wuthering Heights, “the house, inside, had regained its ancient aspect of comfort under female management, and the scenes of riot common in Hindley’s time were not now enacted within its walls.” (p. 191)

And about Heathcliff, she said:  “The master was too gloomy to seek companionship with any people, good or bad; and he is yet.” (p. 191)

File:David Cox the elder (1783-1859) - Moorland Road - N02665 - National Gallery.jpg
Moorland Road by David Cox Jr.

Ch. 19

Edgar returned with Linton. When he arrived home, he and Catherine were so excited to see one another. Nelly looked in at Linton and noticed how sickly he looked. Edgar told her not to disturb him as the trip had been hard on him.

Finally, Linton woke and he was introduced to Catherine. All he wanted to do was go to bed. But they all went in to the library for tea. He complained that he couldn’t sit on a chair and so laid on the sofa. Catherine made him her little pet and doted on him. That made him faintly smile.

No sooner had Nelly got Linton to bed and asleep that Joseph showed up. Nelly tried to send him on his way but he refused and barged in on Edgar in the library. He said that Heathcliff had sent him for the boy and he must not return to Wuthering Heights without him. Edgar felt he had no choice but to give the child to Heathcliff; still he insisted that the child not be taken that night but that he would go in the morning. Joseph wouldn’t accept this at first but Edgar demanded it to be how it would be. Joseph left, saying that Heathcliff would come himself tomorrow.

Ch. 20

Edgar had Nelly take Linton home. He also told her not to tell Cathy about this; that she was only to know that his father sent for him suddenly and he had to leave. Linton said he was never told of his father. He questioned how he could love him? He didn’t know him. He would not leave; but they finally got him to budge. And off they went. As they walked along, Linton had plenty of questions about Wuthering Heights and about his father. Nelly handled his questions well and did not make Heathcliff look bad in any way.

They arrived and Heathcliff and Linton met. Heathcliff assured Nelly that he would treat the boy fine – that he had his room done and hired a tutor to teach him. He also ordered Hareton to obey the boy.

“…and in fact I’ve arranged everything with a view to preserve the superior and the gentleman in him, above his associates.” (p. 202)

File:Walter Bertram Potter (1872-1918) - Moorland Landscape with Bare Trees - 642006 - National Trust.jpg
Moorland Landscape with Bare Trees by Walter Bertram Potter

Ch. 21

Cathy was upset when she found out that Linton was gone; but time eased that. Nelly talked about how she asked the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights about Linton. The housekeeper said he was weak and tiresome. Heathcliff didn’t like him; but he tried not to show it. Nelly concluded that lack of sympathy made Linton a disagreeable and selfish young man. She thought that Edgar probably thought a lot about Linton; he would ask her to try to get information about him.

Cathy’s birthday had come around and she had turned 16 years old. Edgar kept himself to his library a lot that day because of course Cathy’s birthday was also the anniversary of her mother’s death. So Cathy was left to entertain herself. She convinced Nelly to get outside with her and so they went riding. They ended up close to Wuthering Heights when Nelly saw two men. It ended up being Heathcliff and Hareton. Heathcliff asked them to come to Wuthering Heights to take a rest. Nelly of course tried to get Cathy to refuse and even told Heathcliff himself it would not be good. Edgar would be angry with her if he knew she had allowed Cathy to go to Wuthering Heights. And she was also convinced Heathcliff was up to no good. Heathcliff told her his intentions: that Cathy and Linton would fall in love and marry. That would secure that Cathy was provided for. He was determined to make that happen. Nelly was just as determined to make sure Cathy never set foot at Wuthering Heights again. At that point, they reached the gate and entered Wuthering Heights.

Catherine and Linton were introduced. Once they knew who each other was, they were happy to see one another. Heathcliff tried to get Linton to take Cathy out but he just wanted to sit inside. Then Hareton came in and he and Cathy were introduced. Since Linton didn’t seem interested, Heathcliff told Hareton to take Cathy about the farm and entertain her.

Heathcliff talks about what he thinks of Hareton. Linton began to look like he’d wished he’d gone out with Cathy. So Heathcliff urged him to go and he did. In the meantime, outside Cathy and Linton were making fun of Hareton and his lack of learning and way of speaking. Heathcliff overheard the conversation and smiled when Hareton turned around and left. Nelly admitted, “I began to dislike, more than to compassionate Linton, and to excuse his father in some measure for holding him cheap.” (p. 214)

Cathy told her father about their visit to Wuthering Heights. He explained why he had kept her from going there and from seeing Linton (who lived at Wuthering Heights). Cathy sided with Heathcliff’s explanation of the separation. She didn’t like that her father had not let her and Linton see each other.

When Cathy was going to bed, she told Nelly how disappointed Linton would be to not see her tomorrow. She asked if she could at least write him a note and send him some books. Nelly said absolutely not. When Nelly came back to check on her, Cathy had paper and a pencil. Nelly told her that no one would send that for her and then put out the candle. Cathy slapped her hand. Nelly left and Cathy loudly bolted her door shut.

Cathy wrote a letter and had it taken by the milk boy; but Nelly didn’t know that at the time. And that began secret correspondence between Cathy and Linton. One day, Nelly intercepted one of Cathy’s letters being carried by the milk boy. Then later that day, Cathy sat down and noticed all her letters from Linton were gone. Cathy asked Nelly to come upstairs and then implored her not to tell her father about the letters. Nelly agreed to not tell her father but to burn the letters if Cathy agreed never to write to Linton again. Cathy agreed and Nelly burned the letters. Then Nelly sent a message to Heathcliff saying that Linton was not to send any more letters to Cathy because she would not receive them.

Ilkley Moor Yorkshire England UK
Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire England

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Brontë was intentional and careful about how she structured this book, especially in regards to her characters’ relationships. We can see a pairing of characters connected from growing up together: Nelly and Hindley (Nelly’s mother was Hindley’s wet nurse and so they were connected from early on in their lives), Catherine and Heathcliff (grew up together from the time they were children), and of course Edgar and Isabella (brother and sister).

Let’s take a look at little Catherine. In what ways is she like her mother? In what ways is she not like her mother, and maybe more like her father? How about Linton? Can we see commonalities and/or differences when comparing him to his parents?

Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Week 2, Ch. 13-16

Ch. 13

Heathcliff and Isabella were still gone and had not been heard from. In the meantime, Catherine got sick but slowly began to recover. Edgar was constantly by her side and very attentive. Then a letter came for Nelly from Isabella.

The rest of the chapter is the letter from Isabella – describing what had been going on, her surprise/horror at wondering who Heathcliff really was, and their arrival back at Wuthering Heights.

Ch. 14

Nelly went to see Isabella. When she arrived, she noticed how the place looked unkempt. She noticed Isabella peering out and then withdrew as if she hoped she hadn’t been seen. Nelly went in without knocking and found that Hindley was gone but Heathcliff was there. He greeted her in a friendly manner. She spoke to Isabella and told her what her brother said of sending his love and forgiveness; but also that there should be no more communication between the two households because no good could come of it. This made Isabella sad.

South View of Top Withens, the Place Said to Have Been the Inspiration for Wuthering Heights (Image Credit)

Heathcliff asked about Catherine and Nelly updated him with what information she thought appropriate. She told him he should let her be….even leave the whole area. He asked her to get him an interview with Catherine. They discussed the feelings of Catherine for Heathcliff and for Edgar. Heathcliff was rather bold in his view of how she felt about him.

You know as well as I do, that for every thought she spends on Linton she spends a thousand on me!…And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have:  the sea could be as readily contained in that horse-trough as her whole affection be monopolized by him. Tush! He is scarcely a degree dearer to her than her dog, or her horse. It is not in him to be loved like me….” (p. 146-147)

Isabella had obviously overheard this conversation, or at least some of it, for she came to the defense of her brother. I can’t imagine how Heathcliff could be so cruel as to talk of feelings for Catherine in front of Isabella like that!

You can see Heathcliff’s view of Isabella when he says:  “She degenerates into a mere slut! She is tired of trying to please me uncommonly early. You’d hardly credit it, but the very morrow of our wedding she was weeping to go home. However, she’ll suit this house so much the better for not being over nice, and I’ll take care she does not disgrace me by rambling abroad.” (p. 147) Heathcliff went on about how he didn’t love Isabella and how he never pretended otherwise.

Heathcliff said Isabella could leave if she wanted to. Nelly asked her – surely she wouldn’t remain if he had given her permission to go? (especially after all he had said about her!) Isabella said she attempted to leave once and won’t do that again. She said,  “…he wishes to provoke Edgar to desperation:  he says he has married me on purpose to obtain power over him…” (p. 149) She spoke some more and then Heathcliff spoke. He then told her to go upstairs for he wanted to speak to Nelly privately. He told Isabella that wasn’t the way and grabbed her arm and thrust her out.

He told Nelly to get him a visit with Catherine. She said it was not a good idea and he basically threatened her – threatened to hurt Edgar and his men if they happened to come upon him at the Grange – when if only Nelly would secure a visit, he wouldn’t have to encounter Edgar and his men. Nelly threatened to tell Edgar of Heathcliff’s designs and he said he would keep her at Wuthering Heights until the morning if she didn’t do as he said.

Nelly told Lockwood that she argued and complained over and over again until finally, she was forced to do as Heathcliff wished. And then the doctor showed up and Mrs. Dean let him in. Lockwood ruminates on what Nelly has told him.

Plaque at Top Withens from Brontë Society (Image Credit)

Ch. 15

Lockwood narrates the first paragraph of this chapter then Nelly begins narrating again.

It wasn’t until three days later, on the fourth day since receipt of Heathcliff’s letter, that Nelly gave it to Catherine. Catherine seemed to not know what to think about the letter. Heathcliff had been outside at the time and since the house was open, he came in on his own and went to Catherine’s door. He did not enter the room until bidden to do so. When welcomed in, he went straight to Catherine and grasped her in his arms. Catherine kissed him and then he returned many kisses to her. She scolded Heathcliff and told him that he and Edgar had both broken her heart. Nelly observed:  “The two, to a cool spectator, made a strange and fearful picture.” (p. 156) When Catherine took away her hand, she had a handful of Heathcliff’s hair in her hand. And when he took away his hand from her arm, there were four blue impressions on her skin.

Heathcliff told her how could she speak so to him and torment him so. She responded:  “ ‘I’m not wishing you greater torment than I have, Heathcliff. I only wish us never to be parted:  and should a word of mine distress you hereafter, think I feel the same distress underground, and for my sake, forgive me!…’” (p. 157)

And before Nelly knew it, Catherine had sprung up and flung herself towards Heathcliff and they embraced hard. Heathcliff flung himself into a chair and Nelly wondered if Catherine had fainted. But when she went to see if that were so, “…he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with greedy jealousy.” (p. 158)

Catherine put her hand up to his neck and put her cheek to his. He asked her why she betrayed her own heart and married Linton, why she did that to him. He said she broke her own heart and his when she married Linton. She said that he left her too and asked him to forgive her and he said he did.

Edgar was returning and Heathcliff tried to leave; but Catherine begged him not to go. So he stayed. Nelly tried to get Heathcliff to go, saying Catherine was not in her right mind and so for him to do what was best and not ruin them all by staying. But Edgar walked in. There was no telling what He might have done to Heathcliff but Heathcliff stopped him. Holding Catherine’s lifeless body in his arms, he implored Edgar to take care of her first. She was restored and Nelly asked Heathcliff to leave. He said he would not leave but that he would stay in the gardens. He reminded Nelly to give him a report of how Catherine was doing in the morning or else he would pay a visit whether Edgar was there or not.

Heathcliff (played by Sir Laurence Olivier) at Catherine’s Deathbed (Catherine played by Merle Oberon) from the 1939 film Wuthering Heights (Image Credit)

Ch. 16

Around midnight that night, Catherine delivered a baby that was named Catherine, and then she died. Nelly went to tell Heathcliff; but when she found him outside, he spoke first and said to Nelly that Catherine was dead. Nelly confirmed that. He was distraught. He even said,  “‘I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!’” (p. 164) After saying that he beat his head on the tree trunk and howled like a savage animal. Nelly said his actions appalled her; it did not move her to compassion.

Catherine’s coffin was placed in the drawing room until the time of the funeral. Edgar stayed in the room, sleeping there, like a guardian. Heathcliff did the same outside. Nelly knew Heathcliff would want to come in there if he could. So one day, when Edgar finally left to sleep from exhaustion, she left the window open so Heathcliff could come in and say his final goodbye. He did so, and put a lock of his own hair in the locket on Catherine’s body (throwing out the hair that was first in it). Nelly found this and the discarded hair and intertwined them together in the locket.

Catherine was buried in the churchyard. Her brother did not come and Isabella was not invited. It ended up just being Edgar, the mourners, tenants, and servants.

Her husband lies in the same spot now; and they have each a simple headstone above, and a plain grey block at their feet, to mark the graves.” (p. 165)

When Heathcliff said “‘I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!’” (p. 164), this echoes Catherine’s sentiments that she voiced earlier in the novel in Ch.9 where she says:

…‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same’…” (p. 79)

…‘My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath:  a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!’” (p. 80)

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And we’ve come to the end of this week’s reading. Catherine has now died. What are your thoughts on Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship from the beginning until now?

Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Week 2, Ch. 10-12

Chapter 10

Lockwood starts out narrating again, explaining how Heathcliff came to visit him. He wasn’t well and Mrs. Dean helped to nurse him. Heathcliff stayed for awhile, and brought some grouse as well. Then Mrs. Dean picks up her narration again.

Edgar and Catherine are married now. Nelly said Catherine behaved better than she expected. In fact, she thought maybe Catherine was overly fond of Edgar. But Edgar acted in such a way that Nelly got the impression that he didn’t want to ruffle any feathers so to speak. Catherine was quiet and gloomy every now and then; but happy moods would return. Edgar seemed to just go with the flow and accept Catherine’s moods however they came. Nelly said,  “I believe I may assert that they were really in possession of deep and growing happiness.”  (p. 90) Then she remarked that this ended.

Heathcliff showed up. And Catherine was beyond excited. I find Edgar’s attempt at cordiality kind of humorous. He said to Heathcliff,  “‘Sit down, sir,’ he said, at length. ‘Mrs. Linton, recalling old times, would have me give you a cordial reception; and, of course, I am gratified when anything occurs to please her.’” (p. 94)

Heathcliff stayed around an hour or so. As he was leaving, Nelly asked him where he would be staying. He said at Wuthering Heights; that Mr. Earnshaw had invited him. Nelly was surprised. Nelly mused to herself,  “I had a presentiment in the bottom of my heart that he had better have remained away.” (p. 95)

Later, Catherine and Nelly had a discussion about Heathcliff and Edgar. And then later, it came out that Isabella (Edgar’s sister) liked Heathcliff. Catherine warned her about him but Isabella wouldn’t take her seriously. Nelly backed up Catherine and even told Isabella what Joseph had to say about Heathcliff and his stay at Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff came to visit and Catherine put Isabella on the spot by saying that Isabella was basically in love with him and he could be Edgar’s brother-in-law if he so chose. Isabella was taken aback and told Catherine not to misrepresent her.  Cathy made her stay and continued to expose her feelings for Heathcliff. Cathy did this in a poking fun kind of way. Very unkind. Finally, Emily left and Heathcliff commented that Emily probably didn’t feel that way towards him but Cathy said indeed she did. Cathy said she liked Emily too well to let Heathcliff hurt her; Heathcliff said he liked Emily “too ill to attempt it”.

It is said that Ponden Hall was the inspiration for Thrushcross Grange. This is an engraving by Edmund Morison Wimperis of Wildfell Hall which was inspired by Ponden Hall. (Image Credit)

Chapter 11

Nelly went to visit Hindley at Wuthering Heights. On her way there, she saw Hareton. He had grown much in the 10 months since she had left. He proceeded to throw a stone at her. She tried to talk sweetly to him but he threw it anyway and it struck her bonnet. They had a conversation then she told him to tell his father that a Nelly Dean wished to speak to him at the garden gate. But instead of Hindley appearing, it was Heathcliff. Nelly took off running away.

Sometime later, Heathcliff came to the Grange again to visit. He didn’t go out of his way to speak civilly to Miss Linton. But this time, Nelly observed him speaking to her outside. Then she saw him embrace her. Nelly was speaking out loud to herself calling Heathcliff a scoundrel when Catherine overheard her. Nelly kept talking and Catherine angrily ordered her to be silent.

See the source image

Heathcliff came in and he and Catherine spoke. They went back and forth about his relationship with Miss Linton. Then Heathcliff spoke of how Catherine had treated him infernally. He spoke of revenge; but not on Catherine. Then he said:  “You are welcome to torture me to death for your amusement, only allow me to amuse myself a little in the same style, and refrain from insult as much as you are able.” (p. 111) In Catherine’s response to this she said:  “Edgar is restored from the ill-temper he gave way to at your coming; I begin to be secure and tranquil; and you, restless to know us at peace, appear resolved on exciting a quarrel. Quarrel with Edgar, if you please, Heathcliff, and deceive his sister:  you’ll hit on exactly the most efficient method of revenging yourself on me.” (p. 111) At that point, the conversation ended.

Edgar asked Nelly where Catherine was. Nelly ended up relating the whole thing from Heathcliff and Miss Linton’s encounter outside, to Heathcliff’s and Catherine’s conversation. He said it was insufferable. He had two men called and proceeded to the kitchen where Heathcliff and Catherine were arguing again. Heathcliff saw Edgar first and motioned for Catherine to be quiet; which she did when she saw why. Edgar addressed Heathcliff and said he would no longer be allowed at the Grange and that he needed to leave immediately. In the course of his address to Heathcliff he said,  “Your presence is a moral poison that would contaminate the most virtuous…” (p. 113)

Edgar motioned for Nelly to get the two men to come but Catherine stopped her and locked the door. Catherine challenged her husband to make good his words. He tried to get the key for the door from Catherine but she flung it into the fire. Edgar grew pale, not being able to tolerate such strong emotion from Catherine. He flung himself into a chair, humiliated.

In this whole interchange with Catherine and Edgar, you get the impression that she doesn’t think very highly of her husband.

Heathcliff pushed Edgar’s chair. Edgar punched him then went out the door and around to the front entrance. Heathcliff wanted to go after him but Catherine convinced him not to. He left. Catherine went upstairs and had Nelly go with her. She talked to Nelly. In that conversation she said:  “Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend – if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I’ll try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity!” (p. 115)

As Nelly was leaving, Edgar was coming. Nelly lingered to see how Edgar and Catherine’s conversation would go. In essence, Edgar basically told Catherine that she couldn’t be his friend and Heathcliff’s friend at the same time and he wanted to know which she chose. She threw herself into a fit, hitting her head on the sofa and grinding her teeth. (Here’s that gothic element of strong emotion again.)

An Image from The Illustrated Modern Library Edition of Wuthering Heights

Edgar just looked at her in fear. He told Nelly to get some water; but Catherine wouldn’t drink. She looked as if she were dead and that scared Edgar. Nelly told him not to worry. She told him of how Catherine said earlier that she would throw a fit. She said so out loud and as Catherine heard her, she jumped up in such a state and flew from the room. Edgar told Nelly to go after her. She followed Catherine to her bedroom but Catherine barred the way for her to not be able to enter.

Catherine didn’t eat the next two days. Edgar spent his time in his library with no concern for whatever Catherine did. Miss Linton and Edgar talked for a bit about Heathcliff and his pursuit of Miss Linton. He told his sister,  “that if she were so insane as to encourage that worthless suitor, it would dissolve all bonds of relationship between herself and him.” (p. 117)

Ch. 12

On the third day, Catherine finally drank all her supply of water and asked for more and also some gruel. She thought she was dying. Nelly didn’t think so. She didn’t like the report Nelly gave of Edgar being about his books and studies. She questioned how he could be about those things when she is dying. She goes into another one of her fits, tearing her pillow with her teeth. She began pulling the feathers out of the pillow and arranging them on the bed, noting what type of bird’s feather each was. Nelly told her to stop the childishness and turned the pillow over so the holes were face down on the bed.

Catherine started talking about something she kept seeing. Nelly kept trying to convince her it was her own reflection in the mirror she was seeing; but Catherine wouldn’t be convinced. It would appear as if Catherine were beginning to seem as if she really were going a bit mad. Then she said she thought she was at home at Wuthering Heights. She said because she was weak, she was confused. She asked Nelly to stay with her, saying that her dreams appalled her.

At this point, one has to wonder:  Did she start out acting delirious but then actually started to become delirious/crazy? If not, she acted the part really well!

We see Catherine’s love of the moors here when she says:  “‘And that wind sounding in the firs by the lattice. Do let me feel it – it comes straight down the moor – do let me have one breath!’” (p. 122)

And then in the following quote, we see a reflection of the author’s love of the outdoors, love of the moors: “…’Oh, I’m burning! I wish I were out of doors!…I’m sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills…’” (p. 123)

The only undisputed portrait of Brontë, from a group portrait by her brother Branwell[1]
The only undisputed portrait of Emily Brontë (Image Credit)

As Catherine continued to insist on wanting the window open, Nelly is convinced that Catherine really is delirious. So it’s here we begin to think maybe Catherine was initially acting crazy; but then she actually did start becoming delirious.

Edgar came in and was horrified at the appearance of Catherine. He didn’t know of her condition. In fact, no one did until she finally let Nelly in after three days. But poor Edgar, Catherine told him to go; that she didn’t want him. That she was past wanting him. I felt so sorry for Edgar!! Edgar blamed Nelly for this, saying she didn’t tell him of Catherine’s condition. Nelly tried to defend herself and in the end, left the room.

Nelly happened to notice something hanging from a bridle hook in the garden by the road. She found it was Miss Linton’s dog, hanging there about to die. Nelly untied the handkerchief the dog was hung by. While doing so, she thought she heard horses’ hooves. The doctor appeared and they discussed Catherine’s condition. The doctor asked about Miss Linton. He said he knew on good authority that she and Heathcliff had been walking about at the back of her house for more than 2 hours the night before. The doctor said:  “…and he pressed her not to go in again, but just mount his horse and away with him! My informant said she could only put him off by pledging her word of honour to be prepared on their first meeting after that:  when it was to be he didn’t hear; but you urge Mr. Linton to look sharp!” (p. 128) Nelly ran most of the way back.

The doctor went in to see Catherine. Nelly gathered that the doctor felt that death wasn’t so much a threat as was Catherine going crazy.

Then the next morning, Miss Linton was gone. She was seen riding off with Heathcliff. Edgar said she had a mind of her own but she was now his sister only in name. Not because he disowned her; but because she disowned him. And he gave orders to have her stuff sent to wherever he new abode would be.

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We will continue with Week 2’s reading tomorrow with chapters 13-16.

What do you think of Miss Linton riding off with Heathcliff? What about Edgar’s view that she disowned him by going off with Heathcliff?

Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Week 1, Chapters 6-9

In my last post, we covered chapters 1-5. Today, we will cover chapters 6-9 which are the remaining chapters of this week’s reading.

Chapter 6

Mrs. Dean continues her narrative. Hindley came back for the funeral and brought a wife with him. Mrs. Dean described the wife as being delighted with all that she saw except the preparations for the burial and all the mourners. She thought the wife acted silly in that situation. The wife took kindly to Cathy but soon her affections began to wane. And then Hindley became tyrannical. He ended up turning on Heathcliff again, deprived him of instructions from the curate, and made him labor out of doors. This was degrading to Heathcliff but he bore it fairly well at the start. This was only because Cathy taught him things and played with him outside. Hindley didn’t usually know about their romping about; but when the curate told him of their absences in church, he punished them both.
“But it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day, and the after punishment grew a mere thing to laugh at.” (p. 45)
One day, Heathcliff and Cathy weren’t home. Hindley had the doors barred and determined that they would have to stay out all night. Nelly (Mrs. Dean) kept watching for them from the window and finally Heathcliff showed up; but without Cathy. He explained what happened. He and Cathy took to spying in on the Linton family at Thrushcross Grange. But as they were running away from the house, the Linton’s bull-dog caught hold of Cathy’s ankle. The Lintons brought her into the house and Heathcliff followed. He was cursing up a storm until finally they put him out and told him to go on. He didn’t though initially. He watched in to keep an eye on Cathy. They tended to her ankle, brought her food, and she was doing just fine. So Heathcliff headed back home. Nelly warned Heathcliff that this incident would set Hindley off. In this chapter (and indeed in other parts of the novel), we see an example of the gothic element of strong emotions. We also see another appearance of a mean dog:  “‘They have let the bull-dog loose, and he holds me!’ The devil had seized her ankle, Nelly:  I heard his abominable snorting.’” (p. 48)

Wood engraving by Claire Leighton which was among other illustrations she made for a 1930s American illustrated edition of Wuthering Heights.

Chapter 7

Mrs. Dean continues her narrative. Catherine ended up spending five weeks at the Grange. While there, Mrs. Linton helped her improve her manners and bestowed upon her fine clothes and such to make her more respectful and ladylike. Catherine took to this well and returned to Wuthering Heights more refined than when she left.  When Catherine returned, Hindley told Heathcliff he could greet her like the other servants and that made Heathcliff mad. Catherine noticed how dirty Heathcliff was, for she had grown accustomed to how the Linton children were. This hurt Heathcliff. The next day the Linton’s were to come for dinner. So Nelly helped Heathcliff clean up and get prepared. However, Mrs. Linton has allowed her children to come to dinner only if Heathcliff is kept away from them. So Hindley had him sent to the attic until dinner was over. However, before he headed to the attic, the Linton boy made a comment about Heathcliff’s hair. That made Heathcliff so mad that he flung hot applesauce on the Linton boy. After dinner, Catherine went to see Heathcliff in the attic. Nelly ended up letting Heathcliff out and gave him dinner in the kitchen. Heathcliff told Nelly that he planned to get revenge on Hindley. At this point, Nelly stops her narrative and apologizes for going on and on. Lockwood encourages her to keep telling him the story and she ends up picking back up with the summer of 1778.

Chapter 8

Mrs. Dean continues her narrative. It is now 1778, which is just 23 years before Lockwood has come to the Grange. Hindley’s wife gave birth to a baby boy whom they named Hareton. Not long afterward, Hindley’s wife died. Nelly was given the task of raising the baby. Hindley took no interest in the boy and began to drink more and became a tyrant. He was especially abusive towards Heathcliff. Heathcliff, though, enjoyed seeing Hindley’s decline. Catherine began to be more of a dual person. She continued behaving politely and mannerly around the Lintons; but when she was home and around Heathcliff, she was her unruly self. Heathcliff, on the other hand, was becoming more sullen. He was now 16 years old. “…he continued to convey an impression of inward and outward repulsiveness that his present aspect retains no traces of. In the first place, he had by that time lost the benefit of his early education:  continual hard work, begun soon and concluded late, had extinguished any curiosity he once possessed in pursuit of knowledge, and any love for books or learning.” (p. 66)

Illustration by Fritz Eichenberg

Chapter 9

Nelly’s narrative continues. She was trying to get Hareton hid and in walked Hindley. He grabbed Hareton and accidentally dropped him over the banister. (Hindley was drunk.) Thankfully, Heathcliff showed up in the nick of time and caught Hareton. A sidenote:  Even the ballad Nelly sang to little Hareton was very grim and gloomy. A few of the lyrics are found on p. 75:

“It was far in the night, and the bairnies grat, The mither beneath the mools heard that,”

This is from a ballad called The Ghaist’s Warning. According to Wikipedia, “The Ghaist’s Warning is a Scottish ballad based on Robert Jamieson’s translation of the Danish ballad Svend Dyring. It was published by Sir Walter Scott in the notes to The Lady of the Lake in 1810. Scott describes the ballad as being written not in the common language of the time, but in the “old Scottish idiom” such as to produce a more literal translation. The ballad describes a group of children who are abused by their evil stepmother after the death of their biological mother; the dead mother then rises from the grave to warn against their mistreatment. The Saturday Review praised Svend Dyring, arguing that the ballad, “with its combination of intense pathos and high imaginative power, stands alone, we are inclined to think, in the ballad-literature of Europe.” (Source) Here is a rendition of the Danish ballad Svend Dyring. Back to the novel…. Nelly now fast forwards to that evening. Catherine came in the kitchen and confided in Nelly. She told her that Edgar Linton had asked her to marry him and she wanted to know what Nelly thought. In the end, she told Nelly that she had already accepted and then launched into a discourse on why she can’t marry Heathcliff and revealed her thinking regarding marrying Edgar. All the while, Heathcliff was listening in on this conversation but Catherine didn’t know it. Catherine told Nelly that it would be a degradation for her to marry Heathcliff at this point. And thus, Heathcliff should never know how she loved him. She explained the difference between her feelings for Heathcliff and Edgar. She says:  “‘…so he shall never know how I love him:  and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.’” (p. 79) Heathcliff didn’t remain to hear past Catherine saying it would be a degradation to marry him. He left. And he didn’t hear the rest of what Catherine had to say. Catherine went on to reveal what were her motives for marrying Edgar in regards to Heathcliff. “‘…but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s power.’” (p.80) Heathcliff ran away from Wuthering Heights and Catherine was beside herself. She ended up staying outside in the rain and got soaked through. She ended up developing a fever and was very sick. The Lintons took her to Thrushcross Grange to help her recuperate and Cathy got better. Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Linton got sick and died. Three years later, Catherine married Edgar. Catherine wanted Nelly to move to Thrushcross Grange but she didn’t want to. She certainly didn’t want to leave Hareton. In the end, Catherine got her way. Hindley ordered Nelly to pack up. He said that Hareton would be taken in hand by the curate. Nelly had no choice but to do as she was ordered. At that point in the narrative, Nelly looks at the time and determines not to remain any longer but to go to bed. So they both (Nelly and Lockwood) retire for the night.

Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff and Merle Oberon as Catherine in the 1939 film Wuthering Heights

Let’s take a moment and think about Catherine’s speech on p. 80. Let’s look at the last full paragraph of her speech:
‘…My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don’t talk of our separation again: it is impracticable; and—’” (p. 80)
What do you think Catherine means by this whole speech, especially her saying “I am Heathcliff!”? Let’s discuss this in the comments. And be sure to also share your thoughts and comments on this week’s entire reading of chapters 1-9!

Wuthering Heights Read-Along – Week 1, Chapters 1-5

Right off the bat, we are introduced to our two narrators of this novel:  Mr. Lockwood and Mrs. Nelly Dean. Mr. Lockwood is the beginning narrator. He has just become the tenant of a place owned by Mr. Heathcliff. On the very first page we find Lockwood describing his landlord, Heathcliff, as “a capital fellow.” But then his following descriptions of him leave the reader wondering why he would describe him so; especially with descriptions of Heathcliff as a surly owner, impatient, and speaking as if through gritted teeth.

Mr. Lockwood decides to pay a visit to Mr. Heathcliff, a visit that seems to be an intrusion on Mr. Heathcliff. Heathcliff has Joseph tend to Lockwood’s horse and even Joseph makes it seem like this is an intrusion on his day. Lockwood describes the place, called Wuthering Heights, as kind of ominous and looming with deep inlaid windows and massive stone cornered walls.

” ‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather…Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.” (p. 4)

Already we are getting a glimpse of gothic elements here: the ominous, gloomy setting.

A View of the North York Moors (Image Credit)

 

As he passes the threshold, he notices a sign which says “1500” and “Hareton Earnshaw”. But because of the perceived surliness of the owner, he decides not to comment. He continues to describe the inside as he walks in and observes – from a smooth white stone floor to guns on the chimney to dogs and puppies “haunting” the corners.

I found this an interesting statement Lockwood makes about Heathcliff:

“He’ll love and hate equally under cover, and esteem it a species of impertinence to be loved or hated again.” (p. 5)

Could this be a bit of foreshadowing? We will see as the novel progresses.

Lockwood makes a statement about Heathcliff then rambles on about an experience he had one time when he met a lady while visiting the seacoast. And he shares how he thus gained a reputation of heartlessness. Even though he felt that was undeserved, he said he could appreciate it. An interesting little tidbit here. When Lockwood talks about this goddess of a lady, he makes reference to Viola’s line in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night when he says, “I ‘never told my love’ vocally…” (p. 6) The phrase “never told my love” is the part that references Viola’s line.

He took a seat and the mama dog was snarling at him. He petted the dog and Heathcliff warned him that he best leave the dog alone. He tried to sit still but ended up making faces at the dogs. The mama dog leapt onto his knees and a ruckus ensued. He called out for help to get the dogs off of the attack; but he noticed Heathcliff and Joseph did not make any attempt to move any faster than normal. Finally, a lady of the kitchen rushed in with a frying pan, started yelling and then peace ensued.

Lockwood and Heathcliff talked and then Lockwood felt it went well enough that he would return for a visit the next day. Heathcliff did not seem to share the enthusiasm.

Chapters 2-3
Lockwood starts out Ch. 2 describing himself as a gentleman based on when he likes to dine as compared to the dining habits of the country folk he’s living amongst at Thrushcross Grange. In the first paragraph of chapter 2, we see the notation “N. B.” used. This stands for the Latin phrase “Nota bene” which means take notice or mark well. So Lockwood wants us to take note of this, as this must be of importance to him. He prefers to eat his dinner at 5pm which denotes that he’s a southern, refined gentleman. People in the country at that time dined at noon.

He decides to make a second visit to Wuthering Heights but is again greeted in a similar fashion as the day before. Mrs. Heathcliff was not very amiable either. We get a glimpse into what these people are like and find out who they are. One of the conversations divulged that Mrs. Heathcliff is not Heathcliff’s wife as Lockwood supposed; she is his daughter-in-law. Poor Lockwood bumbles about the whole conversation. We find out the other man is Hareton Earnshaw.

Unfortunately, the weather is not the best and Lockwood ends up staying the night at Wuthering Heights.

See the source image

An Illustration of Lockwood’s Dream Encountering Catherine’s Ghost by Fritz Eichenberg

While in his chambers Lockwood has two different dreams. In one, we have the famous scene of Catherine Linton’s cold icy hand grabbing him, appearing to him, and pleading to be let in. He awakes from his dream and Heathcliff is there. They talk and finally Heathcliff tells him he can take his room. As Lockwood leaves the room he hears Heathcliff beckoning Cathy to come back. He listens for a minute and then leaves. In this whole portion of chapter three, we see the gothic element of spectres/ghosts and the unknown. When Heathcliff beckons the ghost of Catherine to come back to him, the term spectre is even used:  “The spectre showed a spectre’s ordinary caprice:  it gave no sign of being…” (p. 28) We also get a glimpse of the state of Heathcliff here. As the novel progresses, and Mrs. Dean tells the story, we will see Heathcliff’s decline.

That next morning Lockwood declined joining them for breakfast and heads home. Heathcliff meets up with him as he is venturing home and helps him find his way. Heathcliff doesn’t go all the way with him. And Lockwood does finally make his way the rest of the way home to Thrushcross Grange.

“…’Do you know that you run a risk of being lost in the marshes? People familiar with these moors often miss their road on such evenings’…” (p. 12)

And interesting to note, after Heathcliff’s savagely spoken response to his daughter-in-law, Lockwood “no longer felt inclined to call Heathcliff a capital fellow.” (p.12)

Let’s take a minute and talk about moors (which is also known as moorland). As I mentioned in the introductory post, Emily Brontë was known to love the moors. And in regards to Wuthering Heights, the landscape is an active part of the novel, not just simply a background. We see here already, that Heathcliff lets Lockwood know that a person not familiar with the moors and marshes might get lost. According to Wikipedia, “Heathland and moorland are the most extensive areas of semi-natural vegetation in the British Isles. The eastern British moorlands are similar to heaths but are differentiated by having a covering of peat. On western moors the peat layer may be several metres thick. Scottish “muirs” are generally heather moors, but also have extensive covering of grass, cotton-grass, mosses, bracken and under-shrubs such as crowberry, with the wetter moorland having sphagnum moss merging into bog-land.“(Source)

Heather Moorland on the North York Moors (Image Credit)

The moors can be a very effective landscape in a gothic novel. They can be wild and be portrayed with an ominous beauty which gives it that contrast of beauty and foreboding. Here are a few quotes from this week’s reading that present the landscape as an active part of the novel:

“On that bleak hilltop the earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made me shiver through every limb.” (p. 9)

“A sorrowful sight I saw:  dark night coming down prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow.” (p. 14)

“We came to the chapel. I have passed it really in my walks, twice or thrice; it lies in a hollow, between two hills; an elevated hollow, near a swamp, whose peaty moisture is said to answer all the purposes of embalming on the few corpses deposited there.” (p.23)

“…at the first gleam of dawn, took an opportunity of escaping into the free air, now clear, and still, and cold as impalpable ice.” (p. 30)

Another gothic element we find in chapter two, is that of menacing dogs. “On opening the little door, two hairy monsters flew at my throat, bearing me down, and extinguishing the light…” (p. 17)

Chapter 4
Mrs. Dean now begins narrating and tells how Heathcliff came to live with the Earnshaws. Mr. Earnshaw had brought back a fatherless child from one of his travels. When he brought him home, the child was not well received by the rest of the family. But Mr. Earnshaw doted on him and showed him favoritism. They christened the boy with the name “Heathcliff” after a child of theirs who had died. Cathy and Heathcliff actually began to be close but Hindley despised him and treated him horribly. Heathcliff endured Hindley’s bad treatment without shedding a tear or batting an eye. Mr. Earnshaw detested Hindley’s behavior towards Heathcliff and doted on Heathcliff even more, believing everything he would say. “So, from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house…” (p. 37) After Mrs. Earnshaw died, “the young master had learned to regard his father as an oppressor rather than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his parent’s affections and his privileges; and he grew bitter with brooding over these injuries.” (p. 37)

Mrs. Dean described a time when Heathcliff got sick and she helped nurse him back to health. She also talked about a time when Heathcliff wanted Hindley’s horse and how he went about to get it. In the end, Mrs. Dean said about Heathcliff: “He complained so seldom, indeed, of such stirs as these, that I really thought him not vindictive:  I was deceived completely, as you will hear.” (p. 39)

Chapter 5
Mrs. Dean continues her narrative of past events. Mr. Earnshaw grew sick and it was suggested that he send Hindley off to college. He knew Hindley would not flourish wherever Heathcliff was; so he agreed to do so. She described Joseph and she said he was a hypocrite. He talked badly of all the children to Mr. Earnshaw and encouraged him to rule them rigidly.

Mrs. Dean also described Cathy as a very mischievous child who gave them worry from the moment she woke up in the mornings ‘til she went to bed. And Cathy was very fond of Heathcliff and did not like to be separated from him. Mr. Earnshaw did not understand the jokes of the children and it irked Cathy that her father was even more irritable and not as patient. She took pleasure in provoking him.

“…she was never so happy as when we were all scolding her at once, and she defying us with her bold, saucy look, and her ready words; turning Joseph’s religious curses into ridicule, baiting me, and doing just what her father hated most – showing how her pretended insolence, which he thought real, had more power over Heathcliff than his kindness:  how they boy would do her bidding in anything, and his only when it suited his own inclination.” (p. 42)

By the end of chapter 5, Mr. Earnshaw has died.

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And that brings us to the end of Chapter 5. From the way the novel is structured so far with our present narrators speaking of their present time and Mrs. Dean beginning to narrate past events, do you see the character development beginning in Catherine and Heathcliff?

What are your first impressions of the novel as you have read these first chapters?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments on these first 5 chapters.

Wuthering Heights Read-Along Introduction

Welcome to the Wuthering Heights read-along! This post contains our schedule, the introduction, free resource download, and links for all the posts for this read-along.

Here is our schedule:

Week 1

October 3rd – 9th
Ch. 1-9

Week 2

October 10th-16th
Ch. 10-18

Week 3

October 17th – 23rd
Ch. 19-26

Week 4

October 24th – 30th
Ch. 27-34

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Here is a free discussion guide which includes printable bookmarks:

Wuthering Heights Readalong Discussion Guide

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Introduction

Emily Brontë was born in 1818 in Thornton, England. She had a reclusive nature; and thus, not much is known about her. She had a number of siblings among whom were notable authors Charlotte and Anne. Wuthering Heights was the only novel Emily wrote and it was originally published under her pseudonym Ellis Bell. While she only wrote the one novel, she did write a lot of poetry. Emily, Charlotte, and Anne jointly published a book of verse under their pseudonyms called Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

When Wuthering Heights was first published, it was not well received. It wasn’t until later that it came to be considered an English literary masterpiece. The writing is compelling, despite its hard content.

Wuthering Heights is considered classic gothic literature. As was discussed in the post on gothic literature, some of the common characteristics of this genre are:

  • Creepy, gloomy, or ominous setting
  • Drama and strong emotions
  • Women in distress
  • The supernatural
  • Mystery/Suspense/Horror
  • Isolation, Fear of Unknown, Entrapment

As you read this novel, notice the gothic elements. Also notice the descriptions. Emily Brontë does an excellent job of painting vivid descriptions without being too wordy. In addition, it is said that Emily loved the moors and that this is seen in the novel. Also, notice how the characters evolve. One of the things I think Emily does so well in this novel is developing the characters.

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Links to All Posts for This Read-Along

Week 1, Chapters 1-5

Week 1, Chapters 6-9

Week 2, Chapters 10-12

Week 2, Chapters 13-16

A Look at The Classic Gothic Novel

What comes to your mind when you think of the classic gothic novel? Is it Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? These are both classic examples of the gothic novel. Today we’re going to look at some of the key characteristics of this genre.

History
The classic gothic novel dates back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In England during this time, the study of science, religion, and industry were hugely popular and this was the time frame that the gothic genre became popular as well. This gothic genre began in England and spread throughout the world, especially the United States. Often, the gothic novel writer used the novel to challenge ideologies of the time. In addition, writers of the gothic novel were also inspired to write about the unknown. Given this background, we can see already the focus of the times in gothic novels such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein.

The first gothic novel is credited to Horace Walpole and his novel, The Castle of Otranto. It is considered the novel that sparked the gothic genre and inspired writers such as Bram Stoker, Ann Radcliffe, and Daphne du Maurier.

One of the key features of the gothic novel is the combination of romanticism with horror. But it’s not necessarily scary – at least not to modern day audiences. While many of the gothic novels of the time were probably very thrilling, today we see many of them more as being very atmospheric…more dark, creepy, or suspenseful. Dracula would definitely lean on the side of dark and creepy; whereas Rebecca would be more suspenseful, maybe even bordering on the side of the psychological thriller. In addition to this key feature, there are also a number of other general characteristics that are typically found in this genre.


Creepy, Gloomy, or Ominous Setting
Typically you will find that a foreboding atmosphere underscores the novel. The setting can have a lot to do with this. Things that exhibit this would be things such as creepy castles, stormy weather, remote and/or rugged landscapes, looming mountains, dark forests, lightning, the moors, faraway lands, etc. These types of characteristics give a desolate feel to the novel, even sometimes a sinister atmosphere as well.

Often you will find decay such as buildings in ruin or rundown country manors; or maybe it’s a family that is dying out or a community or individual is in decline. Other features that give a spooky/creepy, ominous feel are dungeons, catacombs, and crypts.

Examples of this would be the opening scene of Great Expectations or Count Dracula with his castle and coffin in the novel Dracula.

Drama and Strong Emotions
Think heart-pounding scenes, intense responses, etc. The classic gothic novel is known for strong, intense emotions. Rage, terror, passion, sorrow, dramatic emotions, lots of “swooning”. All these things provide an unsettling mood. Interestingly enough, in gothic novels men tend to be hyper-emotional.

Women In Distress
Women are often portrayed as vulnerable and are often dominated by powerful men. This has been used by some of the gothic writers to highlight and criticize the position of women in the 1700-1800s. Some gothic writers show women still exerting power despite these circumstances. A clear example of this would be the character of  Emily in The Mysteries of Uldopho. She is definitely portrayed as vulnerable and is dominated by a villainous man. But she also exhibits great courage and fortitude as well.

The Supernatural
Often you will find the supernatural featured in gothic novels. Ghosts/spectres are part of this category of course, as are monsters, witches, vampires and the like.

Mystery/Suspense/Horror
This speaks for itself. Characteristics to highlight this include things like howling dogs, scraping nails, etc. In Rebecca, there’s mystery and suspense surrounding the former Mrs. DeWinter. In The Hound of the Baskervilles there’s the howling of the hound as well as the mystery surrounding it.

Isolation, Fear of Unknown, Entrapment
When it comes to the theme of isolation in gothic novels, the isolation can be physical or emotional. Often the protagonist will feel isolated or entrapped. In Dracula, the Count imprisons Jonathan. And here’s two examples from The Mysteries of Udolpho:

“The door of the corridor was locked as she had left it, but this door, which could be secured only on the outside, must have been bolted, during the night.”

“Emily’s heart sunk, and she seemed, as if she was going into her prison…”

The theme of the fear of the unknown we can see in scenes such as the phantom taking Christine away on the boat in The Phantom of the Opera. It can also be illustrated with surroundings such as hidden passageways or confining corridors.

These are just a few of the common characteristics of the classic gothic novel. And now, here’s a list of some of the more well-known classic gothic novels:

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker – This novel is considered one of the most widely read novels and includes all the classic characteristics of the gothic genre.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe – This novel is considered the quintessential and archetypal gothic novel and was said to be one of the gothic novels of the time that influenced Austen’s writing of Northanger Abbey (which Austen wrote as a satire on gothic novels).
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Rebecca by Dauphe du Maurier
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – While not strictly gothic, this book does combine two genres:  the detective novel with the gothic novel.

Do you have a favorite classic gothic novel? Please share with us in the comments!