Chapter 8


Narrator: Nelly. 

Hareton is born and Frances dies. Hindley’s reaction to this begins his downfall. Heathcliff and Edgar Linton are increasingly rivals for Catherine’s attention. The rising passions are shown when Edgar visits Wuthering Heights and Catherine hits both him and Nelly. Heathcliff is becoming sullen and dishevelled. 


Catherine is fifteen and Heathcliff sixteen ‘I think’. Their childhood friendship is becoming something more complicated. The presence of the sophisticated Edgar threatens to lead to conflict and trouble. 

Bonny little nursling: the descriptions of baby Hareton are all positive; eventually, his attractiveness is revealed through his relationship with Cathy.

Bairn: child.

Frances is quite right: Hindley’s downfall begins here in his inability to accept the truth. The servants leave and no-one comes calling so Wuthering Heights becomes the place we saw at the beginning of the novel.

It formed a sweet picture: we are reminded that Nelly is talking to Lockwood. Edgar was good-looking, but ‘wanted spirit’. (See Characterisation: Edgar Linton.)

Look at the almanack: An almanack was a calendar that also contained additional information such as the phases of the moon etc. That Heathcliff has been marking off the days is a good example of his spiteful and petty behaviour, and his inability to forget hurts and disappointments.

The contrast resembled what you see… his aspect: a good example of Brontë’s pairing of characters. Both men are described in terms of natural imagery, as is usual in this novel. (See Characterisation > Doubling characters; Imagery and symbolism > The four elements.)

Marred: spoiled.

He possessed the power to depart… half eaten: a typical natural image which expresses Edgar’s feelings as well as conveying a violent picture.

Fowling-piece: a shotgun.

Investigating Chapter 8

  • Nelly says of Catherine: ‘She never had power to conceal her passion.’ Is this the key to Catherine’s character?
  • What three words would you use to describe Catherine at this point?
  • The image of the cat and mouse in the penultimate paragraph is another natural image used by Brontë. Explain why this is a particularly appropriate comparison here.
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