Chapter 21


Narrator: Nelly. 

Nelly obtains some reports of Linton’s life at Wuthering Heights. Cathy, on her sixteenth birthday, goes onto the moors with Nelly and meets Heathcliff, who invites her to Wuthering Heights. She meets Linton. Heathcliff’s plan is that they should fall in love and marry. Over the next few weeks, Cathy writes secret notes to Linton but Nelly finds his replies and stops the passing of messages. 


Three years pass. Again, Heathcliff benefits from a chance encounter. His comments comparing Hareton and Linton, and his opinions of them, are interesting: another pairing of characters. 

Hareton is not bad natured: again, a hint is dropped about Hareton’s basically good qualities.

Bacca: tobacco.

Knocked up: exhausted.

Nab: short, steep, rocky hill.

My design is as honest as possible: honest in the sense that he is open about it! His plan is made clear to the reader.

Chit: child.

I think he’s safe from her love: for once, Heathcliff has read the situation wrongly, though it is a long time before this comes out.

Gaumless: (=gormless) foolish.

I can sympathise with all his feelings, having felt them myself.: Hareton is a double of Heathcliff, yet Heathcliff still has no pity for him. 

one is gold put to the use of paving-stones, and the other is tin polished to ape a service of silver.: Cathy’s two cousins are contrasted by Heathcliff’s metaphor, which again highlights Hareton’s innate worth.

Lath of a crater: someone as thin as a lath

New view of human nature: Cathy has been protected and has not come across people behaving badly before. In the next few chapters, she will grow up quickly, and actually becomes more likeable as she shows her strength of character and morality.

She threw me a very naughty look: being suspicious, Nelly perhaps goes beyond what a servant should do over the next few pages. It is an example of her interference and also of her desire to do the right thing. We also see Cathy’s cunning and desire to get her own way.

I didn't once think of loving him till - : Cathy has an ill-founded infatuation for someone she hardly knows, just as Isabella did, with dreadful consequences.

Investigating Chapter 21

  • What reaction do you think Brontë wants us to have when Cathy and Linton mock Hareton?
  • Make brief notes on Cathy as Brontë describes her character, ideas and feelings in this chapter.
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