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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 17

Summary

One evening Isabella arrives breathless at Thrushcross Grange. She has run the whole way from Wuthering Heights, trying to get out of Heathcliff's reach. Isabella then proceeds to narrate the latest occurrences at the Heights.

On the night following Catherine's funeral, Heathcliff returns home late, and Hindley tries to shoot him. In the fight that ensues, Hindley is severely wounded and falls to the floor, where Heathcliff vents further violence on him. Later, Heathcliff bandages Hindley's wounds and tries to bring him back to consciousness. Isabella reminds Hindley that Heathcliff has brought about all their present sorrow, including the death of Catherine. On hearing Catherine's name, Heathcliff seizes a dinner knife and flings it at Isabella, cutting her below her ear. She then runs down the steep road until she reaches the Grange.

After recounting her story to Nelly, Isabella drives away in a carriage and is never to return. She settles outside of London. A few months later her son, Linton, is born. She dies when Linton is twelve. Meanwhile, Edgar reconciles himself to life without his beloved Cathy and develops a deep attachment to his daughter.

Hindley Earnshaw dies, and the village lawyer informs Nelly that he was deeply in debt. His entire property is mortgaged to Heathcliff. Hareton is, therefore, reduced to a pauper in his own house. Nelly tells Heathcliff that Hareton must go with her to the Grange, but Heathcliff refuses to send him. He threatens that if Hareton is taken away from him, he will send for his son in London. This is enough to silence Nelly, as well as Edgar.


Notes

This is a long chapter in which several developments take place and a number of sensational incidents are described. The main events are the fierce fight between Hindley and Heathcliff, Heathcliff's attack on Isabella with a dinner knife, Isabella's flight from the Heights and arrival at the Grange, her permanent departure to London, and the birth of her son, Linton. The future deaths of Hindley and Isabella are also revealed.

The chapter is very important for its character development. The grieving Edgar becomes almost hermit-like after the death of his wife. Heathcliff is equally miserable over the loss of Catherine; he spends sleepless nights and weeps profusely. He goes to her grave each evening. Returning home, he locks himself in his room.

Heathcliff wants to bring up Hareton under the same conditions in which he himself had grown up. Hindley had treated him very badly, and that abuse has permanently damaged him. Now it is his turn to torment Hindley's son. He would bring up Hareton in such a way that Hareton is also traumatized.

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