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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 20

Summary

Early the next morning, Edgar plans to send Linton to Wuthering Heights, accompanied by Nelly. Before his departure, the boy is anxious and extremely reluctant to leave his uncle. Finally, Nelly succeeds in coaxing Linton, and they set out on their way to the house of Linton's father. Heathcliff welcomes his son with a scornful laugh. Linton does not resemble him, and to make matters worse, his looks remind Heathcliff of Isabella. Left alone with Nelly, Heathcliff tells her that his son is the prospective owner of Thrushcross Grange. Therefore, Heathcliff does not want Linton to die until it is certain that he will be Edgar's successor. Heathcliff has prepared a room especially for his son and has employed a tutor "to teach him what he pleases to learn." Nelly is content that at least Heathcliff's selfish plans of vengeance will make him treat Linton well.


Notes

Chapter 20 presents the removal of Linton from Thrushcross Grange to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff's motives become clear in his conversation with Nelly; he hopes to use his son as a means of gaining his enemy's estate. His plan is fully conceived. Heathcliff intends to bring about a marriage between young Linton and young Cathy. Edgar's property will ultimately come to young Linton because young Cathy would be Edgar's only heir. Heathcliff will also see to it that if the sickly Linton dies prematurely, the property would pass to himself, instead of remaining in Cathy's possession. This is exactly what subsequently happens.

Heathcliff's nasty and bitter reference to his dead wife is natural because he never loved her. When young Linton says that his mother never told him about his father, Heathcliff responds, "Your mother was a wicked slut to leave you in ignorance of the sort of father you possessed." Heathcliff's reference to Edgar Linton is also very disparaging. He refers to Edgar as "the cipher at the Grange." Significantly, Heathcliff refers to his own son not as "he" but as "it." His scorn for the delicate boy bodes ill.

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