Wuthering Heights


Chapter 19 to Chapter 24

Chapter 19

Isabella dies, and Edgar returns with his nephew, Linton. Cathy is overjoyed to see her cousin and new playmate. Linton is a frail boy, but he too seems happy to have Cathy. That same night, however, they are visited by Joseph, who is sent by Heathcliff. Heathcliff wants the boy, since it is his own. Edgar at first refuses to give up the child, but sensing that Heathcliff is determined to have his heir, Edgar relents and promises to send the boy tomorrow.

In this chapter, it is revealed that Heathcliff still exercises a maniacal control, even after more than a decade of silence. Whether he means to corrupt the boy or use him for some ulterior motive is not immediately clear. What is clear, though, is that Heathcliff is still the same.

Chapter 20

Linton, of course, does not desire to stay at Wuthering Heights, but there the poor boy is left to be raised by Heathcliff. Heathcliff speaks ill of Isabella to the boy. It is already apparent that Linton displeases his father, and his frail constitution is almost insulting to Heathcliff’s strength, as though the mother had somehow contrived that the boy should resemble the Linton side more than the Heathcliff side. Nelly leaves Linton to his fate, and as she slides out, the boy cries, “Don’t leave me! I’ll not stay here! I’ll not stay here!” Sadly, he has no choice in the matter.

This chapter is particularly painful for its depiction of a kind of child neglect. The adults at the Grange know full well what sort of fate is in store for any young boy left at Wuthering Heights, and yet they rather hopelessly send Linton to his doom as though nothing could help it. This kind of exaggerated fate is particular to the gothic genre of the 19th century, but it does not resonate well with a modern audience, which is likely to be confounded at the utter callousness of Edgar and Nelly for giving in so easily to Heathcliff’s demands.

Chapter 21

Cathy is disappointed to find that...

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