Chapter 34


Narrator: Nelly, then Lockwood. 

Heathcliff keeps himself apart from the others most of the time and eats little. His death is described and his funeral. There are stories of ghostly sightings of him and Catherine. Hareton and Cathy are to be married on New Year’s Day and will live at the Grange. Lockwood visits the graveyard as he leaves the area. 


Heathcliff has a changed appearance. He is wild and pale, but also has ‘a strange, joyful glitter in his eyes’, probably because he expects to be with Catherine soon. He also seems to encourage Hareton and Cathy to be together. This appears to be more than simply accepting the inevitable; surely he sees in them the relationship that he and Catherine never managed to achieve.

Yorkshire moorland, image available through Creative CommonsHeathcliff wants to spend time outside, where he is more at home close to the moors and nature. We see brief glimpses of a gentler, more attractive Heathcliff in this final chapter. However, he will not turn to orthodox religion as Nelly entreats him to do. Instead, he outlines his requirements over his burial arrangements, which are carried out later.

When Nelly finds him dead, he is by the open window, drenched by the rain. The open window symbolizes the boundary between life and death, and the way that he has turned from looking out and the rain comes in suggests a blurring of that boundary. This idea is emphasised by the sightings of Heathcliff and Catherine in the area. Only Hareton is upset by Heathcliff’s death. 

We were in April then: a time for new beginnings and new growth.

almost bright and cheerful: Cathy’s description of Heathcliff makes us realise that these terms have almost never been applied before to Heathcliff!

I am within sight of my heaven: notice that it is ‘my’ heaven- Heathcliff’s version, not the orthodox Christian one.

He was leaning against the ledge of an open lattice…: plenty of symbolism here. He is by the window that suggests a barrier to the heaven he wants, but it is open so there is little in the way now; the fire has died down, as have his emotions; the sound of the stream is a reminder of the importance of the moors to him, and could be a sign that life will go on even after his death.

That with the panelled bed: i.e: Catherine’s old room, as seen in Chapter 3.

a ghoul or a vampire? ... I had tended him in infancy: Nelly employs typical Gothic terminology yet balances this with her practical knowledge of Heathcliff – Brontë maintains the novel’s habitual balance between mystery and normality.

Where did he come from: a question that is never answered, emphasising Heathcliff’s air of mystery.

gazed at something within two yards' distance: the presence of Catherine is becoming more distinct.

Green: the local lawyer.

Titan: in Greek mythology the Titans were a race of giants.

A selfish, unchristian life: Nelly makes a final attempt to bring Heathcliff back to orthodoxy. He hardly answers this, talking instead about his funeral arrangements and again referring to ‘my heaven’.

sexton: A sexton is the person responsible for the maintenance of the church’s buildings and the surrounding graveyard. 

My directions concerning the two coffins: as outlined in Chapter 29.

refused to bury you … kirk: a suicide could not be buried in consecrated ground.

prove, practically, that the dead are not annihilated: Heathcliff is threatening to haunt Nelly if she does not do what he wants.

The lattice .. had grazed one hand: This and the mention of blood echoes Lockwood’s damage to the apparition of Catherine in Chapter 3.

'Th' divil's harried off his soul: Joseph holds the medieval view that Satan has come to attack and claim his own i.e. Heathcliff.

thanks that the lawful master and the ancient stock were restored to their rights: Joseph has witnessed the fate of the Earnshaw home come full circle, after the interloping of the ‘cuckoo’ Heathcliff.

Hareton, the most wronged, was the only one that really suffered much: Heathcliff’s death is described in some detail and, surprisingly, through sentences like this, Brontë gives the whole event a feeling of sorrow and regret. Once Heathcliff has gone, the novel finishes very quickly.

The middle one: this is Catherine’s grave.

Investigating Chapter 34

  • Trace references to heaven and hell, and to devils, fiends etc. in this chapter.
    • What final view of Heathcliff do these references give?
  • Re-read the final sentence of the novel.
    • Is this a peaceful, romantic ending, suggesting a calm future, or does the phrase ‘wondered how anyone’ suggest ambiguity, coming as it does from the mouth of the unreliable narrator Lockwood?
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