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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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- This chapter consists largely of a story told to Ellen by Zillah,
the current housekeeper at Wuthering Heights (and also the
"lusty dame" of the first chapter). Ellen calls Zillah a "narrow-
minded, selfish woman" for thinking that Cathy is proud and
therefore refusing to wait on her. Certainly, Zillah comes off as
hard hearted. She's indifferent to Cathy's suffering and to
Linton's death. But just as Ellen's scolding tone makes her story
more believable, so Zillah's disapproval of Cathy gives a
realistic edge to the events surrounding Linton's death. Zillah
continues to accuse Cathy of pride when the girl rejects
Hareton's attempts to make himself agreeable. The rejection is
understandable, however, given his indifference to Cathy's
lonely struggle at Linton's bedside. To some extent the quarrel
between Cathy and Hareton has been forced on them by
circumstances, although the roots of conflict were always there.

NOTE: Zillah ends her story with a summing up of Cathy's
behavior: "...the more hurt she gets, the more venomous she
grows." This seems to sum up the behavior of all the major
characters except Edgar. Isabella, Cathy, and Cathy's mother
all speak of revenge as a way of dealing with their suffering.
Against this backdrop you may not find Heathcliff quite so
evil. And yet his type of vengeance is of a different, more
sinister quality. Like Hindley, he takes out his suffering on the
innocent, even on children. As he explains in Chapter 11, the
tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don't turn against him;
they crush those beneath them."

Until now you've seen people hurting others, and being hurt in
return. The only way characters have broken out of this vicious
circle has been to break off the relationship-through flight (as
in Isabella's case) or to have it end through death. In the last
few chapters Hareton and Cathy will manage to create a new
pattern. Heathcliff may, too.

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes

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