Chapter 27


Narrator: Nelly. 

Cathy nurses Edgar who is getting worse. Nelly and Cathy meet Linton again, but Heathcliff turns up and tricks them into going to Wuthering Heights where he traps them. He wants Cathy and Linton to marry before he will release them. Nelly is locked in for five nights. 


Heathcliff returns to centre stage. He has complete control over Linton and uses violence against both Cathy and Nelly. Hareton does as Heathcliff tells him. Heathcliff has been forced into action by his concern that Linton will not live much longer. After a few chapters in which little happens, the story explodes into action. Many characters are linked to the landscape in this novel, and in the third paragraph of the chapter Brontë makes a very specific link with Cathy. 

With scornful compassion: an interesting pairing of words; Cathy is both loving towards Linton and annoyed by his feeble behaviour at the same time.

Ling: heather.

He shut and locked it also: another example of a strong barrier; notice that controlling the door and the key shows Heathcliff’s power.

Lees: high ground where cattle graze.

Give me that key: the key symbolises a struggle for power which leads to real violence; Heathcliff wins through his greater strength, but Cathy has shown that she will not give up.

Spleen: spiteful temper.

Papa wants us to be married: the truth is out and Heathcliff cares only for his plan.

Changeling: fairies were supposed to take away healthy human children and replace them with sickly ones.

that healthy, hearty girl, will tie herself to a little perishing monkey: throughout the novel, Brontë communicates admiration for robust health and physique and disparagement for physical and emotional weakness.

pay her back her present tyrannies with a vigorous hand: Husbands in the era of the novel’s setting were expected to ‘master’ their wives, who had no legal recourse against abuse.

Exactly as a spaniel might: Linton’s relationship to Heathcliff is summed up in another image from nature.

it's felony without benefit of clergy: Nelly invokes the law – Church of England ministers were required to ensure the legal conduct of marriage.

Cockatrice: a legendary monster, able to kill with a look.

You’re a cruel man, but you’re not a fiend: some, like Isabella, have drawn a different conclusion. Cathy appeals to Heathcliff’s better nature, but there seems to be none of this left. Her question whether he had ever loved anyone must have struck at his heart, and his reaction is extreme even for him.

Eft: a small lizard.

Chit: child.

There I remained enclosed: Nelly is kept away from what is happening so she cannot tell us; the reader is made to wait, thus building suspense.

Investigating Chapter 27

  • List words and phrases which show Heathcliff’s character in this chapter.
    • Words he uses
    • Words which describe his actions
    • Other characters’ words about him
  • Is Heathcliff worse than ever?
    • Has he lost the reader’s sympathy altogether?
    • What do you think Brontë is trying to achieve here?
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