Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
Over the next seven days, Edgar Linton's condition worsens. Cathy begins to fear that her father's death is near.
When Thursday arrives, Cathy meets Linton in the appointed spot, but she is worried about her father and soon wishes to return home. Linton then "throw(s) his nerveless frame along the ground" and claims that if Cathy leaves, his father will kill him. Mr. Heathcliff arrives and inquires about Edgar Linton's health. Nelly tells him that her master is dying. Heathcliff then asks Cathy to accompany Linton to the Heights. She whispers to Linton that her father has forbidden her to go to there. Linton frantically pleads with her to come. Cathy finally gives in and goes with her cousin, despite Nelly's protests.
Nelly and Cathy soon find themselves the prisoners of Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights. They learn from Linton that Heathcliff plans for Cathy and Linton to marry the next morning. Cathy begs Heathcliff to allow her to go home, for her sick father will be miserable with worry; however, all her entreaties are in vain. She and Nelly are told to go up and sleep in Zillah's room. Out of fear, they obey. In the morning Cathy is taken away, and Nelly is kept locked in the house. For almost the entire week, the maid is kept a prisoner, and Hareton comes and gives her food and water.
There is a striking and crucial development in this dramatic chapter. It presents Heathcliff's treacherous scheme to marry Cathy and Linton at any cost; and the marriage must be accomplished quickly, before Linton does. To accomplish his purpose, Heathcliff convinces Cathy to come to Wuthering Heights in order to calm Linton down from his nervous state. Although Nelly protests, the kind Cathy agrees to accompany her cousin back to his home. Once she and Nelly are at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff literally makes them prisoners.
It is evident now that the entire relationship between Cathy and Linton has been manipulated by Heathcliff. Linton's letters to Cathy were obviously dictated to him by his father; it was also Heathcliff who demanded that Linton meet with Cathy on the moors.
Because of this manipulation, Heathcliff appears more despicable in this chapter than ever before. He is a heartless, relentless, and vindictive scoundrel who does not care one thing about his dying son or his niece. The irony is that Heathcliff could have brought about the marriage between Linton and Cathy peacefully, for Edgar, as seen in an earlier chapter, had given Cathy his blessings to marry Linton if it would make her happy.
The characters of Cathy and Nelly are further developed in this chapter. Cathy shows much spirit when she tries to defy Heathcliff. Then when she realizes that her defiance is futile, Cathy appeals to her monstrous uncle for pity; however, that does not work either.
Nelly makes no secret of her contempt for the cowardly Linton and the devilish Heathcliff, but she does her utmost to defend Cathy. In this chapter, the faithful maid rises almost to the status of a minor heroine by the courageous stand that she takes.
During the chapter, young Linton proves himself to be a weakling and a coward, totally fearful of his brutal father; one must admit, however, that the boy's poor health has left him virtually defenseless against Heathcliff.