Chapter 11


Narrator: Nelly. 

Nelly visits Wuthering Heights and receives a violent welcome from Hareton, who throws a stone at her. Later, Heathcliff visits Thrushcross Grange and talks to Isabella, then tries to embrace her. Catherine tries to warn Heathcliff off Isabella. Edgar, helped by his servants, drives Heathcliff away. Catherine, after having a fit, takes to her room, and Edgar waits in his library.


Heathcliff is gaining control over several characters as he works out his revenge. Catherine is struggling to cope.

Superstition urged me…: Even Nelly can be affected by the apparently supernatural forces of the area. Her feeling is prompted by memories, showing the way in which time plays tricks in this novel.

Gait: way.

Judas: the disciple who betrayed Jesus, and therefore a name for a treacherous person.

The spirit which served her was growing intractable: she could neither lay nor control it.: Brontë gives hints to her readers of Catherine’s increasing mental instability, which Catherine herself recognises when she refers to ‘my passionate temper, verging, when kindled, on frenzy.’

Your presence is a moral poison: Edgar verbalises the way that Heathcliff, and characters associated with Wuthering Heights generally, affect others. No-one in this novel can live unaffected by others; the world of Wuthering Heights is too intense and enclosed for that.

The hottest part of the fire: the high emotions here are symbolized in the reference to the fire. The key is also a notable symbol here. (See Imagery and symbolism > The four elements; Windows, doors, gates and locks.) This is a climax of the story where tensions turn into actual violence. There is no going back and Catherine never recovers.

A sucking leveret: a baby hare. This is one of several natural images used about Edgar by Catherine and Heathcliff, all suggesting weakness.

Your cold blood… makes them dance: The difference between Catherine and Edgar is shown in the image of cold and heat. (See Imagery and symbolism > The four elements.) 

dashing her head against the arm of the sofa, and grinding her teeth: Heathcliff will echo these actions in his despair over Catherine (chapters 15 / 16).

Investigating Chapter 11

  • How does Heathcliff gain influence over each of the following characters?
    • Hareton
    • Hindley
    • Isabella
    • Catherine
    • Edgar
  • Notice how Edgar is described as ‘cold’. What is the significance of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ in this novel?
  • Nelly is more than an objective observer in this chapter. Make some notes on her role in the novel so far.
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