Notes on Wuthering Heights Themes

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Wuthering Heights Topic Tracking: Nature

Chapter 1

Nature 1: Wuthering Heights, the home of the Earnshaws, was built alongside the moors. Winds whip across these barren fields, making the growth of trees impossible. The estate received its name because of how bad weather attacks the house and its surroundings. The moors are the favorite place for Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff to play, and it later becomes the playground of Cathy Linton. Like the Heights, which must be strong to stand against the wind, the children who love the moors are strong and independent. Neither Edgar or Isabella Linton express much interest in this barren landscape, and Linton Heathcliff is too ill to traverse the moors.

Chapter 5

Nature 2: At the time of Mr. Earnshaw's death, a strong wind wrapped and howled around Wuthering Heights. He was sitting inside with Catherine and the rest of the family, safe and warm inside the house. The wind roared down the chimney, and beat at the moors. A change was coming and the wind signaled it.

Chapter 8

Nature 3: One day when Hindley is out, Heathcliff hopes to spend the day with Catherine. But she has already invited Edgar Linton over, and Heathcliff is very jealous. Catherine complains that Heathcliff is no longer a very interesting companion, and he leaves in a huff at the sound of Edgar's horse. Heathcliff leaves as Edgar enters:

"Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect." Chapter 8, pg. 63

Chapter 12

Nature 4: After the fight between Heathcliff and Edgar, Catherine determines to make herself mad. She refuses to eat for several days, and she becomes delusional. Having not left her room in days, she insists on opening the window and letting in the cold air. She thinks the only thing that will help her recover and feel like herself again is to be outdoors. The wind, a walk on the moors, will bring her back to herself.

Nature 5: Edgar comes into Catherine's bedroom and helps Nelly pull her away from the window. She is not happy to see her husband, and tells him that soon she will be dead, and among the hills. She wants to be buried not in the chapel, as the Lintons are, but under the stars. The Lintons are not outdoors people the way the Earnshaws are. They are more delicate, and reserved. Catherine wants to be buried in accord with the way she lived her life.

Catherine makes a distinction between her body and her soul. She tells Edgar that he may hold her body, but that her soul belongs outside, on the moors. She has a strong connection with the moors, and she feels she belongs there more than anywhere else.

Chapter 13

Nature 6: It is early spring and the snow is almost gone. Edgar, looking at his ailing wife, remarks that if she could walk outside on the hills, she would likely get better. He cannot deny his wife's connection with nature, and how much its absence has affected her.

Chapter 15

Nature 7: Catherine is no longer dangerously ill, but she is weakened and changed. Feeling like a caged animal, she tells Nelly how much she wishes to be outside, and to be always there--to be dead. She will then be apart and free, as she cannot be now.

Chapter 16

Nature 8: When Nelly goes to tell Heathcliff that Catherine has died, she finds him leaning against a tree. His hair is wet with dew, and he has been there so long that passing animals neither notice nor fear him. He has let himself get as close, without dying, to the nature of which his Catherine is now a part.

Nature 9: The townspeople are surprised that Catherine is buried not in the chapel, the house of God, or under the stone monument of the Linton's, or with her own family. Instead she is buried in the graveyard, so close to its edge that the plants of the moors are spilling inside it.

Chapter 17

Nature 10: After Catherine's death, a snow interrupts this early month of summer. The early flowers die under the drifts, birds go silent, and young plants die. Nature becomes completely silent in her absence, as though it is in mourning.

Chapter 22

Nature 11: Cathy is depressed by her father's illness. They used to take long walks together, but now he is forced to stay indoors. Nelly offers herself as a substitute, and she and Cathy go for a walk. Nelly tries to cheer her up, pointing out one of the last flowers of summer. But Cathy will not pick it, as Nelly suggests. It looks sad, and she prefers to leave it alone. Nelly compares the lonely flower to little Cathy, who is pale and solemn.

Chapter 27

Nature 12: Edgar Linton is dying, and Cathy hates to be away from her father's bedside. Nelly thinks a visit to her cousin might cheer her, and they head over in the afternoon. Everything about the hills and sun was comforting, but:

"Catherine's face was just like the landscape--shadows and sunshine flitting over it in rapid

succession; but the shadows rested longer, and the sunshine was more transient" Chapter 27, pg. 243. Her grief was so strong that even a beautiful day could not cheer her.

Chapter 29

Nature 13: Heathcliff tells Nelly how after Catherine's death, he almost dug up her grave. It was killing him to know that only a few feet of earth separated them, and he thought that if she was cold, he could just imagine it was the wind.

Chapter 33

Nature 14: Joseph explodes when he sees that his trees have been dug up. He tells Heathcliff that he planned to die here, but with such changes, he cannot stand to be here. To have Cathy tear up his garden and to have Hareton help her, breaks his heart.

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