Wuthering Heights: Chapter 10 - Summary & Analysis

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      Nelly Dean continues the story after a break of four weeks as Lockwood had been ill.

      After Catherine's marriage, things are smooth for about six months. Cathy's behavior towards Nelly improves; she is very affectionate toward Edgar and dotes on Isabella, Edgas's sister. Edgar almost worships her and does everything to please Catherine all the time.

      Then one September evening Heathcliff appears as suddenly and mysteriously as he had disappeared. Nelly is surprised and wonders if he is really Heathcliff. Heathcliff tells Nelly that he wishes to meet Catherine and Nelly wonders what Cathy's reaction would be on seeing Heathcliff.

      Cathy is of course, jubilant and wild with joy on seeing Heathcliff and flinging her arms around Edgar she says: 'Oh, Edgar, Edgar! Heathcliff's come back!' Edgar however, cannot share her happiness and enthusiasm and is angry at her obvious delight. He tells Cathy that she can meet Heathcliff only in the kitchen and not in the family sitting room.
Heathcliff is a totally transformed man now. He is athletic, intelligent, dignified yet stern. Cathy and Heathcliff are totally absorbed in one another and they exchange news. Heathcliff tells Cathy that he has come to see her as he had heard of her marriage. He had wanted to see her just once, settle his score with Hindley and then do away with himself, but her warm welcome makes him change his mind.

      Cathy makes up with Edgar and there is some peace as Heathcliff proceeds cautiously.

      However, a new trouble soon arises. Isabella Linton becomes greatly attached to Heathcliff and reveals her love to Cathy who warns her against him: "He’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. He'd crush you like a sparrow's egg if he found you a troublesome charge. He'd be quite capable of marrying your fortune". Nelly too warns Isabella that Heathcliff is a gambler and his riches may have been ill-gotten. But Isabella will hear nothing against Heathcliff.

      The next time Heathcliff comes to the Grange, Cathy embarrasses Isabella by telling Heathcliff of her infatuation. Heathcliff has no love for Isabella but he notes the fact that she is Edgar's heir to the property of Thrushcross Grange.

Critical Analysis

      Two startling developments occur in this chapter. One is the sudden reappearance of Heathcliff after about three years of absence; the second is Isabella's infatuation for Heathcliff. Both these events are to have far-reaching repercussions in the chapters to come. It also reveals the characters of all concerned.

      The arrival of Heathcliff causes a rift in the married life of Catherine and Linton. Edgar is unhappy over his wife's enthusiasm in welcoming Heathcliff and would not like to treat him on equal terms. Cathy obviously annoyed at Edgar's attitude, sarcastically instructs Nelly: "Get two tables here, Ellen: one for your master and Miss Isabella, being gentry; the other for Heathcliff and myself, being of the lower orders." The quarrel is however resolved as Cathy feels that Heathcliff's return is compensation enough for all her past suffering.

      Thus it is evident now, that Cathy has not been happy in Heathcliff's absence. His return is what prompts her to make peace even with her husband. She describes Heathcliff return to Nelly as "The event of this evening has reconciled me to God and humanity".

      Strangely however, while scolding Isabella, she denounces Heathcliff as an unreclaimed creature, without refinement and without cultivation. On the other hand, it is Isabella who defends Heathcliff as an "honorable soul and a true one". It shows the difference in Cathy's and Isabella's love for Heathcliff. Isabella loves Heathcliff on the mistaken assumption that he is a gentleman. Cathy however loves him with passionate intensity, knowing fully well the pitiless and cruel man that he is. She loves him, inspite of his cruel character.

      Edgar's reaction to Cathy's reception of Heathcliff is but natural. Kind, trustful and honorable he is no match for the fiery Cathy and has a deep-rooted fear of annoying her. Nelly's account paints Heathcliff in dark colours.

      However, significantly placed between the account of Heathcliff's disappearance and that of his return, is Lockwood's brief interpolation. It shows Heathcliff in yet another perspective. He has shown kindness to Lockwood both by sending him a brace of grouse, and by visiting Lockwood when he is sick.

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