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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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- You read just four chapters ago that Heathcliff had
complete control of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross
Grange. Now he doesn't have control even over himself. He
can't eat or sleep. The reasons for both this final illness,-
this "strange change"- and for his death are ambiguous.
Depending on how you feel about Heathcliff, you can
emphasize either of two interpretations: he has finally been
consumed by his own infernal passion, or he has been
united spiritually with Catherine. Either way the love
between young Hareton and Cathy intensifies his sense of
loss and is inextricably linked with his change. You can
support the idea of an infernal passion: his is a strange joy,
accompanied by shivering, and bloodshot eyes; he focuses
on things that aren't there, things that bring him both
rapture and anguish. His appearance is so strange that one
night Ellen is convinced he's a goblin, a ghoul, or a
vampire. How do we know where he came from? she asks.
Even when her common sense is restored in the morning,
she is frightened of him, and won't sit with him. He seems
to commune with Cathy's ghost, with wild endearment and
with suffering. When speaking of making a will, he wishes
he could destroy all his property so no one would get it.

He says he has done no injustice to anybody. He rejects
making peace with God, and instead insists on the mingling
of the coffins. He dies with a sneer on his face. Or you can
support the idea of spiritual union with Catherine:
Heathcliff says he has been on the threshold of hell, and
now is in sight of heaven (which he has always equated
with Cathy). Hareton and young Cathy, who should
understand his love better than Ellen, particularly since
they have just found their own, emphasize Heathcliff's
happiness in their descriptions of him. Heathcliff doesn't
bother the young lovers now. In fact, he encourages
Hareton, whom he sees as a younger version of himself. He
begins to view Hareton as a person instead of an instrument
of revenge. After he brings up the subject of the will and
the lawyer, he dismisses it. Questions of inheritance, which
once obsessed him, mean nothing to him now. He has been
trying unsuccessfully to see Cathy's ghost for years.
Perhaps he sees it now because, in relinquishing his
revenge, he has also forgiven her. Finding peace in Cathy's
love seems to offer him greater spiritual satisfaction than
any conventional religion. His face is exultant in death.
Perhaps the sneer is only Ellen's fancy. Do the ghosts of
Heathcliff and Catherine still live and walk about? Perhaps,
if you think theirs was an infernal passion. But the final
sentence of the book is one of peace. Musing beside their
graves, Lockwood wonders how "anyone could ever
imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes

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