Chapter 29


Narrator: Nelly. 

The following evening, Heathcliff arrives at Thrushcross Grange. He will take Cathy to Wuthering Heights and let out the Grange. He tells Nelly of his ‘haunting’ by Catherine. Nelly is told not to visit Cathy at Wuthering Heights. 


The main interest in this chapter is Heathcliff’s story of breaking open Catherine’s coffin. He had tried before, after her funeral, but was prevented by feeling her presence, a presence which he has felt many times since. This ties up with Lockwood’s experience when staying in Catherine’s old room and Heathcliff’s reaction. Now he has beheld her body again and this has brought him some relief. He wants to be buried beside her, with the coffin sides removed so that they can be together. This has brought him more fulfilment than all his revenge plans, it seems. Here we have the most obviously Gothic episode since Chapter 3.

It was the same room…: another example of echoes across time; the surroundings have not changed, but so much else is different.

Where would you go?: Cathy is now trapped not by doors and locks, but by circumstances and the way in which society regards women.

He’s such a cobweb: he is so frail and weak.

my presence is as potent on his nerves as a ghost: Heathcliff applies psychological torture to his son – as he himself feels he has been subjected to by Catherine.

Linton is all I have to love in the world: Cathy will hold on to what love she can, however undeserving Linton is. Her determination to base her life on love, rather than on hatred like Heathcliff, makes her strong and able to provide hope at the end of the novel.

I know he has a bad nature…: this speech by Cathy is important in understanding the moral basis of the novel. She speaks of forgiveness and the power of love, and contrasts this with Heathcliff whose lack of love leads to misery. The knowledge of this provides a kind of revenge which Heathcliff cannot achieve. It is interesting that Heathcliff goes on to describe his less orthodox behaviour immediately after this.

Lonely, like the devil, and envious like him: Emily Brontë was familiar with the classic epic poem, Paradise Lost, by John Milton, which paints a vivid picture of the envy and isolation of Satan following his rebellion and exclusion from heaven. For all the criticism of Brontë’s theology, the phrase ‘Lonely, like the devil’ provides a clear expression of how Christians would see the embodiment of evil: lonely because the devil has rendered himself incapable of love.

loose earth was the sole barrier: the two symbolic images of earth and barriers are combined. (See Imagery and symbolism > The four elements; Windows, doors, gates and locks.)

I ought to have sweat blood then, from the anguish of my yearning - from the fervour of my supplications: Heathcliff’s desperation is again linked to that of Jesus (see Chapter 17) as he foresaw his suffering and death:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

conscience was playing the fiend inside of me: according to Christian tradition, fiends (demons) were servants of the devil sent to torment people.

His eyes were fixed on the red embers of the fire: the symbol of fire suggesting strong passion is brought out in this image.

Investigating Chapter 29

  • Cathy challenges Heathcliff with ideas about love and hatred. What effect does this outburst have on the reader?
    • What effect do you think it has on Heathcliff?
    • Is this the point at which Heathcliff gives up on his plans and on life itself?
  • Heathcliff talks of Catherine having ‘disturbed’ him for years, causing him endless torment. Would you, therefore, describe his feelings for her as ‘love’?
    • Are there other strong emotions involved?
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