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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 34

Summary

Nelly continues with her narration. Before his death, Heathcliff avoids everyone in the house, rarely eating and often going out late at night. One night, he returns home at midnight. Nelly can hear him pacing about in the room and calling for "Catherine." He eventually comes down to the kitchen and tells Nelly that he is happy. Nelly, sensing that death is near, advises Heathcliff to send for the minister, but he ignores the suggestion. He does, however, say that Hareton and Nelly should accompany his casket, and that the sexton should follow his instructions regarding his burial.

One day soon after their conversation, Nelly notices the window of his room open. Assuming that he has gone out, Nelly unlocks the door. She is horrified to find Heathcliff lying dead on the bed. As he has requested, he is buried by Catherine. Now villagers often see the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine wandering about the moors.

Nelly informs Lockwood that Cathy and Hareton will be married on New Year's day and live in the Grange. On his way back to the Grange, Lockwood visits the churchyard cemetery where Edgar, Catherine, and Heathcliff are buried. He wonders if the information he has heard about the spirits of Catherine and Heathcliff is true.


Notes

The description of Heathcliff's dying brings the story of Wuthering Heights to a natural close. Permeated by a sense of the supernatural and impending death, the entire chapter is strange and somber. In the beginning of the chapter, Nelly's reaction to the strange glitter in Heathcliff's eyes contributes to the mysterious atmosphere. Nelly notices Heathcliff's smile and ghastly paleness . . . as if he were a goblin. She suggests that he calls the minister, but he wants no part of her suggestion. Appropriately, Nelly asks herself whether Heathcliff is "a ghoul or a vampire." Heathcliff seems to sense her thoughts and says to her, "I believe you think me a fiend, something too horrible to live under a decent roof."

Other things in the chapter heighten the sense of mystery. When Nelly finds Heathcliff dead in his room, his eyes are open and his lips are parted. It is a ghostly pose that adds to the supernatural atmosphere. Joseph then comes in and comments that the devil has carried off Heathcliff's soul. At the end of the chapter, Nelly reveals that the country folk tell of seeing the spirits of Catherine and Heathcliff wandering on the moors. The book ends with a hauntingly beautiful description of Lockwood's visit to the graves of Heathcliff and Catherine.

The chapter provides a fitting conclusion to the somber novel. Heathcliff's death, the ghostly appearance of his face when Nelly finds him, and Hareton's genuine sorrow are vividly and effectively presented. In sharp contrast to the gloominess of the death scene, Nelly announces that Hareton and Cathy are to be married; appropriately they have set the wedding for New Year's Day, foreshadowing that they will have a new and happy life together at the Grange - away from Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights. It is the first good news in the entire somber tale.

There is also something positive in the fact that Heathcliff is now with Catherine, eternally united in death. Heathcliff's love, which could not be fulfilled in life, has finally been fulfilled, for he has been freed to walk forever with his true love on the moors near Wuthering Heights.

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