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date: 09 August 2022

Wuthering Heights 

The Oxford Companion to English Literature
Dinah BirchDinah Birch

Emily *Brontë's only novel, published 1847. The story begins with the journal of Lockwood, temporary tenant of Thrushcross Grange, who stumbles unsuspecting into the violent world of Wuthering Heights, home of his landlord Heathcliff. The narration is taken up by the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, who had witnessed the interlocked destinies of the original owners of the Heights, the Earnshaw family, and of the Grange, the Linton family. In a series of brilliantly handled flashbacks and time shifts, Emily Brontë unfolds a tale of exceptional emotional and imaginative force. Events are set in motion by the arrival at the Heights of Heathcliff, picked up as a waif in the streets of Liverpool by the elder Earnshaw, who brings him home to rear as one of his own children. Bullied and humiliated after Earnshaw's death by his son Hindley, Heathcliff's passionate nature finds its complement in Earnshaw's daughter Catherine. Their childhood collusions develop into an increasingly intense though vexed attachment, but Heathcliff, overhearing Catherine tell Nelly that she cannot marry him because it would degrade her, and failing to stay to hear her declare her passion for him, leaves the house. He returns three years later, mysteriously enriched, to find Catherine married to the gentlemanly Edgar Linton. Heathcliff is welcomed by Hindley, now widowed with a son, Hareton, and a hardened drinker and gambler. Heathcliff's destructive force is unleashed; he marries Edgar's sister Isabella and cruelly ill-treats her, hastens Catherine's death by his passion as she is about to give birth to a daughter, Cathy, and brings Hindley and his son Hareton under his power, brutalizing Hareton in revenge for Hindley's treatment of himself as a child. Edgar Linton dies, after trying to prevent a friendship between Cathy and Heathcliff's feeble son Linton; Heathcliff has lured Cathy to his house, and forces a marriage between her and young Linton in order to secure the Linton property. Linton also dies, and an affection springs up between her, an unwilling prisoner at the Heights, and the ignorant Hareton, whom she attempts to educate. Heathcliff's lust for revenge has now worn itself out, and he longs for the death that will reunite him with Catherine; at his death, it is implied that the contrasting worlds represented by the Heights and the Grange will be united in the marriage of Cathy and Hareton.... ...

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