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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTER 15

- This chapter begins with a reminder of Cathy's deathlike
state, and ends in a final gasp of passion for Heathcliff.

Heathcliff steals into her bedroom while Edgar is at church
(unlike Isabella, Heathcliff always gets into places whether he's
wanted or not), and embraces her. He's in despair because he
realizes that Cathy is going to die. But this is no tender love
scene. Cathy accuses him of thriving on her death, a death he
caused. Her face shows a wild vindictiveness. When Heathcliff
first lets go of her, his fingers leave blue marks in her skin.

Though Cathy softens a bit, Heathcliff does not. He accuses her
of destroying them both when she married Edgar. When Cathy
forgives him for leaving her for three years and begs to be
forgiven, he refuses. "I forgive what you have done to me," he
says. "I love my murderer-but yours! How can I?" This refusal
may be one of the things that haunt him until his final "strange
change" at the end of the book. When they hear Edgar
returning, Cathy clutches Heathcliff with mad resolution,
declaring she'll die if he leaves. She faints, and Heathcliff puts
the apparently lifeless body into Edgar's arms.



NOTE: In a more conventional novel there would have been a
clearer death-bed resolution. Cathy would have declared a love
for Heathcliff that her marriage to another could never dim or
she would have said that she was, above all, Edgar's wife, and
that there are greater things in life than love. But she does
neither. Her unwillingness to leave Heathcliff may be her final
statement, but she never tells him that she regrets marrying
Edgar. Note, too, that the scene isn't placed in the novel as if it
were a climax. The story does not revert back to the present for
reflection. There are two chapters to go before the story of the
first generation ends. It will take the whole second half of the
book to work out any kind of resolution. Although the focus in
this scene is on the lovers, Ellen is there, too. When Catherine
first loses consciousness, the housekeeper thinks, "Far better
that she should be dead, than lingering a burden and misery-
maker to all about her." This is the cruelest comment she has
made about anyone in the book. When you consider that Cathy
is dying, you have to wonder how trustworthy any of her
judgments of Cathy are.

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