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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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- Two hours after Catherine becomes a mother, she dies.

In the last chapter Cathy said that she would find no peace in
death, and yet she longs for the next "glorious" world and will
pity those living on earth. Which is true? Ellen says that she
likes to watch at a chamber of death because she sees a repose
no earth or hell can break, but she's still sufficiently uncertain
to interrupt her story and ask Lockwood, "Do you believe such
people are happy in the other world, sir?"

Perhaps a character's opinion on whether Cathy has found
peace tells you more about that character than about Cathy's
fate. You see little of Edgar's grief. Although Ellen speaks only
of his "exhausted anguish," it becomes clear later that Edgar
believes Cathy is happy in heaven.

Heathcliff, on the other hand, is inconsolable. When Ellen says
Cathy's life ended in a gentle dream, Heathcliff cries, "May she
wake in torment!" and calls on her ghost to haunt him, as her
murderer. He dashes his head against a tree trunk throughout
the night, leaving blood on the bark. Despite the cruelty of his
words, it's his anguish, not Edgar's, that you remember. His
torment goes a long way toward blotting out his sins from your

NOTE: Except for when they imagine a paradise for Mr.
Earnshaw, Heathcliff and Cathy find no comfort in formal
religion. As for the other characters, Joseph's religious fervor is
grotesque. Hindley uses religion for punishment rather than
enlightenment, and Ellen's piety is too conventional to move
you in any profound way.

Edgar follows the forms of religion, going to church every
Sunday and getting strength from God. Yet it is Heathcliff and
Cathy who speak in religious terms. When Heathcliff gets his
first glimpse of Thrushcross Grange, for instance, he compares
it to heaven. And Cathy considers herself in hell when she is
separated from Heathcliff. The examples are endless, and
explain why some readers call the love between Cathy and
Heathcliff the strongest spiritual force in the novel. Despite
her sympathy for Edgar, Ellen lets Heathcliff in to view Cathy's
body. He opens her locket to substitute his own lock of hair for
Edgar's, trying to usurp the place next to her heart. But Ellen
fittingly entwines the two tresses and encloses them together.

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes

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