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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 3

Summary

Zillah takes Lockwood to a room upstairs and informs him that her master never permits anyone to stay there willingly. In the room, he finds some old books and opens them. In one, Lockwood finds every available space covered with a childish scrawl. In the writing, he discovers references to a dead father and to the cruel treatment of Heathcliff by a mean and demanding brother, Hindley, and his wife, Frances. There is also mention of the pious hypocrite, Joseph, and the writer's affectionate relationship with Heathcliff.

Mr. Lockwood sleeps fitfully, having two nightmares. The first one is based on the title of a book of sermons he has just read and takes place mostly in a chapel. His second nightmare is more frightening. The ghost of little Catherine Linton requests him to let her in; "as it (the ghost) spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window . . . I pulled its wrist on the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, 'Let me in!'" Lockwood awakes with a scream. Heathcliff enters the room and is displeased to see Lockwood in that bed. He tells Lockwood to go down to the room below and spend the night there. As Lockwood leaves, he sees Heathcliff passionately calling out to Catherine.

In the morning, Lockwood goes to the kitchen downstairs and seats himself by the hearth, where he meets first Joseph and then Hareton. The latter takes him to the living room, where he finds Heathcliff and his daughter-in-law engaged in a heated argument. Lockwood declines joining them for breakfast and makes his way out of the house. His landlord guides him across the moor up to the gate of Thrushcross Grange, two miles away from the house.

Notes

An atmosphere of mystery and suspense pervades this whole chapter. An ominous feeling is created by the entries in the diary belonging to a woman called Catherine. Lockwood sees her name scratched on the wall in three different forms: Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, and Catherine Linton. The "Catherine Linton" is the mother of the Catherine Linton who now lives in the house. The entries in the diary seem particularly mysterious because the reader does not know the circumstances to which they refer. One wonders about the relationship between Heathcliff and his brother, Hindley.


The tense atmosphere is heightened by Lockwood's two dreams, which seems to have symbolic significance; however, their meaning is not clear to the reader at this point in the story. In the first dream, the manner in which the congregation behaves is truly awful; "every man's hand was against his neighbor." It is the same kind of hostility that prevails at Wuthering Heights itself. In the second dream, the ghost of Catherine is seen, introducing a supernatural element into the novel. The manner in which Lockwood wounds the child's hands in the dream is dreadful.

The atmosphere of mystery and terror is further deepened by the behavior of Heathcliff, especially upon his hearing Lockwood's account of his nightmares. It is apparent that Heathcliff clearly believes in and is fearful of the ghost that Lockwood describes. The reader is almost made to feel pity for him in his anguish, although the cause of his pain is unknown. The mysterious atmosphere is also heightened by the relationship between Heathcliff and his daughter-in-law. He appeals to Cathy to come in to him and is tormented by her refusal. The ugly scene between the two of them that occurs later in the chapter adds to the negative portrayal of Heathcliff, especially when he calls his daughter-in-law a worthless woman who lives on his charity and a "damnable jade." It is no wonder that the young lady is quite defiant towards Heathcliff.

The strange inhabitants at Wuthering Heights and their hatred for one another, Heathcliff's strange conduct in the bedroom, and Zillah's reference to "queer" events puzzle Lockwood and pique the reader's interest, even though everything in this chapter is not understood. The chapter as a whole is filled with suspense, and some of the events are frightening; however, the chapter ends on a note of relief when Lockwood arrives back at the Grange and is greeted happily by everyone there. They have all been concerned about him, thinking he might have perished in the snowfall.

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