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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 21


Cathy is unhappy when she hears that Linton has gone to his father's house. Nelly is also unhappy about the situation. She checks on the boy through the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights and learns that Mr. Heathcliff's dislike for Linton seems to have increased.

Cathy turns sixteen. On her birthday, Nelly and she go for a walk on the moors with Edgar's permission. When Cathy runs ahead of Nelly, she meets Heathcliff and Hareton. Heathcliff invites Cathy to Wuthering Heights to visit with Linton. He whispers to Nelly his motives for insisting on a visit between Cathy and his son; he hopes that they will fall in love and marry. Since Linton may not live long, Thrushcross Grange would pass from him to Heathcliff.

Despite Nelly's objections, Cathy accepts Heathcliff's proposal and visits the Heights. She spends some time with both her cousins, Hareton and Linton. Cathy and Linton mock Hareton for his ignorance. Angered by this treatment, he threatens to hit Linton and goes away. Cathy relates the details of her visit to the Heights to her father. Edgar narrates the history of Heathcliff and tells her how he came to own the Heights. He advises Cathy never to visit or think about Heathcliff and his family again. She does not argue with him. However, Nelly soon finds out that Linton and Cathy exchange notes secretly. Nelly insists that the correspondence be stopped.


The events in this chapter take place on and after Cathy's sixteenth year. The chance meeting between Heathcliff and Cathy on the moors results in her visiting the Heights; she spends time with both Hareton and Linton.

Cathy's pleasure over visiting Linton and the secret correspondence which follows indicate there is a budding affection between the two of them. This fits in well with Heathcliff's vengeful plan, for he has decided that Linton must marry Cathy in order to gain a firm hold over Edgar's estate.

Nelly's role throughout the episode is important. Although she does accompany Cathy to the Heights for her visit, she does so very much against her own will, for she thinks the young girl should stay away from Heathcliff. She consents only under pressure from the demanding man and to satisfy Cathy's whim. Cathy learns that Heathcliff is really her uncle and takes a liking to him. In fact, she finds fault with her father for having quarreled and broken off his relationship with his brother-in- law. Edgar tries to explain to the girl that the quarrel was not his fault but Heathcliff's.

Talking to Nelly during the visit, Heathcliff brags that he has brought up Hareton, Hindley's son, as a brute. He has taken care to see that the young man receives no education and has no means of cultivating decent social behavior. It is apparent that Heathcliff has brought up Hareton in this manner in order to take revenge upon Hindley, who treated him badly in his childhood.

The chapter further develops the young characters -- Cathy, Linton and Hareton. As a young lady, Cathy has a good figure and sparkles with health and high spirits. She is also self- assured, insisting on a visit to Wuthering Heights and criticizing her father for breaking off relations with Heathcliff. In contrast, her cousin Linton is depicted as a sickly young man, who possesses as graceful manner. Hareton is portrayed as a young man with bulk and strength, who is rough and awkward. Because Heathcliff has totally deprived him, he if fully lacking in social graces. It is no wonder that Linton and Cathy tease him for his behavior.

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