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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTER 17

- On the morning after Cathy's funeral, Isabella bursts into
Thrushcross Grange laughing, and her hysterical good humor
persists, despite the fact that her light silk dress is streaming
with snow and water; despite a deep, bloody cut under one ear;
and despite her sincere sadness over Cathy's death. What has
happened to her?

Certainly the first part of her story is no cause for joy. As she
describes it to Ellen the night before, just after the funeral,
Hindley tried without success to kill Heathcliff. Hindley locked
the door in preparation, but Heathcliff managed to break in
through the window and grab Hindley's pistol. In the struggle
over the weapon, Hindley was wounded. Isabella's description
of Heathcliff kicking and trampling Hindley, and knocking his
head against the flagstones, is the most violent passage in the
book. And this occurs at the point when you've regained your
sympathies for Heathcliff.



NOTE: Just before he got out his pistol, Isabella told Hindley
that treachery and violence are double-edged-"they wound
those who resort to them, worse than their enemies." Certainly
you have plenty of evidence of this so far. Characters who
suffer try to find relief by passing the suffering on to others.
Hindley behaves this way when his wife dies. Cathy is so hurt
by the quarrel between Edgar and Heathcliff that she resolves
to die in order to break both their hearts.

Isabella thrives on a dream of revenge, too, telling Ellen, "I'd
rather [Heathcliff] suffer less, if I might cause his sufferings
and he might know that I was the cause." Perhaps she cannot
forgive him because she can never make him suffer as much as
she has suffered.

She does her best, though, the morning after the funeral. She
tells Heathcliff that Cathy would still be alive if it weren't for
him; that Hindley's eyes-which Heathcliff tried to gouge out-
are Catherine's; and that had Catherine become Mrs.
Heathcliff, she would soon have become as disgusted with him
as Isabella herself is.

Heathcliff throws a knife at her, which cuts her beneath her ear.
While he's raving, she escapes. It's in this condition that she
bursts into Thrushcross Grange. The rest of the chapter closes
the first half of the novel. Isabella flees to the south. Hindley
dies in a drunken fit. Joseph says that before he left to fetch the
doctor, Hindley was alone with Heathcliff, and far from death,
which leaves you with an uneasy feeling. The characters have
arranged themselves again according to their personalities at
one of the two houses: Edgar, the baby Cathy, and Ellen are at
Thrushcross Grange; Heathcliff, Hareton, and Joseph are at
Wuthering Heights.


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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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