Home » AP Literature » Wuthering Heights, xx, xxi

Wuthering Heights, xx, xxi

Heathcliff has called for his son Lindon, and as Edgar is a magistrate, he knows well that the law is on the Heathcliff’s side, and bids Nell to take the peevish boy to the Heights.

Here we see directly how Heathcliff is at childrearing. The only “kindness” he gives his son is allowing a substitute to the porridge and that he refuses.

Heathcliff already refers to his son as a “puling chicken” (169) and “whey-faced whining wretch” (170) and his mother as a slut. But Lockwood’s opening query  on how Heathcliff came to be landlord of Grange and Heights is becoming clear: “I will be very kind to him you need to fear! ” [Heathcliff] said laughing. “Only nobody else must be kind to him — I’m jealous of monopolizing his affection.”


Four years later, Catherine is sixteen. She and Nell go exploring and as Catherine is looking for grouse eggs on the property of the Heights — which is poaching the property of others and is a serious crime in that day — she is “arrested” quote by Heathcliff and Hareton.

Catherine had reached her full height; her figure was both plump and slender, elastic as steel, and her whole aspect sparkling with health and spirits. Linton’s looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these defects and rendered him not unpleasing. (175)

Well we can guess where this is going.

Have you noted that Heathcliff does not lie to Catherine? On that matter, have you noted him lie?


His assessment of Hareton’s character belies much about himself as well as the lad he likes better than his own son: gold used as paving stones, tin polished to look silver (178).

So it comes out that she has visited, and Edgar tells the truth that she had been holding until Catherine was older. Catherine has difficulty comprehending that a human being can be so dark. She asks Nell if she can send a note to Linton explaining why she can’t come, and when Nell forbids it, Catherine enlists the help of the milkmaid’s boy to start a correspondence. Note the Pandora’s Box element: Nellie is the voice of reason,  Catherine is Pandora. Perhaps there is also a comparison to be made to the legend of Bluebeard.

At this point we think back to our first meeting of Catherine Jr. on Lockwood’s second visit to the Heights, her character much changed. How did she become so?

Read on!


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