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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 2

Summary

This chapter describes Mr. Lockwood's second visit to Wuthering Heights on the next day. It is a misty and cold afternoon as he makes his way through four miles of mud to the house of his landlord. When he knocks at the door, he hears the howling of dogs. Joseph shoves his head through a window in the barn and tells Lockwood that only the "missis" is at home and that she will not answer his summons.

A young man with a pitchfork leads Lockwood in through the back door. Lockwood wonders who he is. Once inside, he sees a motionless and nearly silent young woman sitting in the room; she apparently is the "missis." Lockwood is immediately attracted to her. Heathcliff soon comes in and grimly informs Lockwood that he should not have come, for he is likely to lose his way as he returns home in the snowstorm. Lockwood, who has wrongly assumed that the young woman is Heathcliff's wife, is informed that the girl was married to Heathcliff's son, who is now dead. The young man who showed him to into the house is Hareton Earnshaw. Relations between these family members seem surprisingly strained, almost hostile.

After a short visit, Lockwood requests help in returning home, but he is refused. As the storm still continues, Lockwood appeals to the young woman for assistance. She informs him that she is forbidden to leave the property. As a result, it appears he must stay over at Wuthering Heights. From the kitchen entrance, Heathcliff tells him that there is no room for guests. If he stay, he must stay with Hareton or Joseph. Exasperated and angry, Lockwood utters an expression of disgust and rushes out to the yard. However, the dogs attack Lockwood, and his nose begins to bleed. He is forced to spend the night at the Heights.

Notes

This chapter is remarkable for the light it throws on the Heathcliff household and its members. Lockwood is puzzled at the animosity these people display towards one other.

Nelly Dean, the housekeeper at Thrushcross Grange and the principal narrator of the novel, is introduced; however, her name is not given at this point.


Two new characters are presented. One of them is Mrs. Heathcliff, the widow of the son of Heathcliff. She is a slender young woman with golden hair fixed in ringlets. She has an excellent figure and a lovely face although Lockwood notices an unnatural scorn and a desperation in her eyes. She discourages all his attempts at conversation and gruffly refuses his request for help in getting back to the Grange. There seems to be a childishness and vindictiveness in her. These traits are particularly revealed in her behavior with Joseph. She threatens him with witchcraft until the servant trembles with "sincere horror." On the whole, she is inconsiderate, rude and unfriendly, but no explanation is yet give for this behavior.

Another new character is a young man called Hareton Earnshaw. He is poorly dressed, and his speech is crass. Since no explanation is given as to his relation to Heathcliff, Lockwood cannot decide if Hareton is a servant or not. He notices that the young man's thick, brown curls are "rough and uncultivated," and his hands are like those of a laborer. His manner, however, is confident to the point of arrogance. Lockwood also observes that the young man does not behave like a servant while attending to the lady of the house. Although Lockwood notices that it is his name that is engraved at the entrance of Wuthering Heights, Hareton's relationship to the family is still a mystery.

More is also learned about the main character in this chapter. The reader learns that Heathcliff is a man of about forty. The chapter also reinforces his unsociable behavior. When Heathcliff finds him in the house, Lockwood receives a cold reception and is told he should not have come because of the snowstorm. Heathcliff also forbids Hareton from guiding Lockwood back to the Grange. Most importantly, the chapter reveals that Heathcliff seems to have a real hatred towards his daughter-in-law and forbids her to leave Wuthering Heights for any reason. This information forces Lockwood to change his good opinion about his landlord. To reinforce his negative thoughts, Lockwood is shocked when Heathcliff and Hareton laugh instead of rescuing him when he is attacked by the dogs. Lockwood decides that Heathcliff has a genuinely bad nature.

The servant Joseph is also presented in the chapter. His dialect adds local color to the novel, and many of the words he uses need translation: t'fowwld (the fold or farmyard), t'laith (the barn), nobbut (no one but), flaysome dins (frightful noises), neight (night), and nowt (a worthless person). His animosity toward Lockwood and his treatment of the young "missis" are very strange indeed. When Mrs. Heathcliff threatens to use witchcraft on him, he is easily terrified. The only rational and kind person in the house seems to be Zillah. She rushes to save Lockwood when he is attacked by the dogs.

Overall, the chapter is a bleak one that presents a very negative picture of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights, especially Heathcliff. The cold, snowy weather heightens the overall bleakness and seems to conspire against Lockwood.

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