Chapter 10


Narrators: Lockwood, then Nelly. 

Lockwood is ill so there is a delay in continuing the story. ‘Half a year’ after Catherine and Edgar’s marriage, Heathcliff returns. He will live at Wuthering Heights and makes increasingly frequent visits to Thrushcross Grange. Isabella feels attracted to Heathcliff and she argues with Catherine about this. 


We never find out how Heathcliff has made money, but he certainly returns with the wealth and outward aspect of a gentleman. The reader knows that it is only a question of time before there is trouble, even without the hint of Nelly’s ‘presentiment’. Heathcliff is clearly pursuing his revenge, though he seems as likely to seize opportunities when they arise as to operate according to a fully formed plan.

Mr Heathcliff… with a call: It seems odd that Heathcliff would spend an hour sitting at Lockwood’s bedside. Is Brontë trying to give us a better side to him? It certainly seems out of character.

Sizar: a student who paid reduced fees and did certain chores to compensate.

Escape to America: the American War of Independence finished in 1783, the year of Heathcliff’s return.

I didn’t know how he gained his money: As with the appearance of Frances, Brontë is not concerned with how Heathcliff becomes wealthy; speculation is pointless. What matters is that he returns in a position of some influence.

they were really in possession of deep and growing happiness: It is important that we understand that Catherine had a real affection for her husband, though it is compromised by the fact that she encountered ‘neither opposition nor indifference’.

It had got dusk: Heathcliff returns in a beautifully Gothic scene. It is nearly dark and there are shadows and mist. Nelly hears a deep voice.

too excited to show gladness … an awful calamity: Nelly’s casual comment foretells the destruction that will befall Catherine and the contentment of her marriage.

the sight of your welcoming a runaway servant as a brother: Edgar’s comment would remind Victorian readers of Jesusparable about the return of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.

the transformation of Heathcliff: notice how Heathcliff is described here; he has certainly changed, but parts of the old Heathcliff remain. Notice also how this description includes the contrast with Edgar so that we continue to pair characters.

to work mischief under a cloak: Brontë echoes Chaucer’s famous description of treachery as ‘the smylere with the knyf under the cloke’ (The Knight’s Tale).

He always contrives to be sick at the least cross!: Catherine’s judgement on Edgar is harsh but accurate, as we see when she is dying. His weakness contrasts with Heathcliff’s strength.

Quite a Christian: Nelly thinks that Heathcliff has reformed completely and will be friends with everyone. Perhaps this is wishful thinking. In any case, it is surely an ironic comment by Brontë

The event of this evening has reconciled me to God and humanity! I had risen in angry rebellion against Providence.: Typically Catherine had blamed Providence (a euphemism for God) for Heathcliff’s departure rather than herself; she now declares that she believes in God again (though it seems a rather tenuous faith).

slap me on the cheek, I'd not only turn the other: the idea of turning the other cheek as a sign of not wanting revenge comes from Jesus’ well-known teaching in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:38–45:

38 ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. … 43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Throughout the novel, this code of behaviour, in which Nelly believes (as did many Victorians) is contrasted with Heathcliff’s code of revenge.

Tell her what Heathcliff is: Catherine’s attempt to convince Isabella about Heathcliff gives us probably the best summary of Heathcliff’s character in the novel. He is not the typical Romantic hero. The language is, appropriately, full of natural imagery.

Sough: drain, trench.

Crahnr’s quest: coroner’s inquest.

Grand ‘sizes: assizes were regular court sessions.

The Last Judgment by MichelangeloPaul .. Peter .. John .. Matthew: Joseph refers to four of the Apostles of whom he believes Hindley should take notice: Paul was an evangelist who authored letters in the New Testament about matters of Christian conduct; Peter is said to guard the gates of heaven; John’s book of Revelation describes God’s Last Judgement; Matthew’s Gospel contains parables of Jesus about how human behavior is judged (eg. Matthew 25:31-46).

mawkish, waxen face … turning the blue eyes black, every day or two: Heathcliff regards Isabella as a thing to treat with violent contempt, rather than an individual. Such casual ferocity from a ‘gentleman’ is striking. 

I felt that God…: Nelly twists Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep (see the lost sheep and the lost coin or Luke 15:4-6 ), which is about God’s joy in securing and restoring a wanderer, with Jesus’ later warning that wolves are a danger to his ‘flock’ John 10:12. Thus more weight is given to the force of the beast than the strength of the shepherd. Heathcliff is referred to by Catherine as a ‘wolfish man’ whose isolated prey will be Hindley. The rhythm and imagery of this final sentence of the chapter leaves the reader with a clear sense of impending disaster.

Investigating Chapter 10

  • Draw up two columns and list comparisons and contrasts between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Use this chapter and any previous ones that are useful.
  • Compare Catherine’s description of Heathcliff to Isabella with Nelly’s description of him when she shows him in.
    • How has Heathcliff changed and how has he stayed the same?
  • Find examples of animal imagery in this chapter and comment on each one. 
    • In particular, what is the effect of the image in the final sentence of the chapter?
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