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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 16

Summary

On the night of Heathcliff's visit, Catherine gives birth to a baby girl and then dies. Edgar's sorrow is great, for he has lost his wife without gaining an heir to his property. Nelly breaks the news of the birth and death to Heathcliff. After her master retires, she admits Heathcliff in the house to bid his final farewell to Catherine.

Hindley does not attend his sister's funeral although he is invited; Isabella is not asked. The only mourners beside Edgar are the tenants and the servants. As she requested, Catherine is buried neither with the Lintons nor with the Earnshaws, but on an open slope in a corner of the churchyard.


Notes

This chapter tells of the premature birth of Catherine's daughter, who is named Catherine after her dead mother. (This baby grows into the woman that Mr. Lockwood meets at the beginning of the novel.) The chapter also describes Catherine's premature death and burial.

Edgar is grieved over both the birth and the death in his family. He has longed for his child to be a son, an heir to his property; as a result, he is disappointed to find out that Catherine has given birth to a daughter before she dies. He is also sad over the loss of his wife and shows more sensitivity to her in death than he did in life. He makes certain that she is buried as she requested, out in the open and as close to her beloved moors as possible.

Heathcliff's grief over Cathy's death is incredibly intense. He hopes that Cathy will haunt him as a ghost rather than forsake him altogether, for he feels that he cannot live without her. His speech helps the reader to understand the earlier allusions to ghosts at Wuthering Heights.

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