Wuthering Heights: Chapter 15 - Summary & Analysis

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      Nelly gives Heathcliff's letter to Cathy four days after her visit on a Sunday when all the others are at Church. Catherine seems not to comprehend the letter. Meanwhile, Heathcliff who has been hanging around the Grange waiting for some reply, is unable to bear the suspense any longer and bursts into Cathy's room clasping her in his arms. On seeing her wasted state, he is distraught and tears and words of agony are wrung from him. He realizes there is no chance of her recovery and both accuse each other of torture. Both are tormented and broken-hearted. Heathcliff reminds her that she is responsible for her misery because she has married Edgar in spite of being in love with him (Heathcliff).

      Edgar is seen returning from the Church and Heathcliff tries to leave but Catherine clings to him crying, "It is the last time. I shall die" Edgar is furious at finding them together but Cathy collapses and it is sometime before she can be revived. However, she recognizes nobody and continues to sigh and moan. Heathcliff leaves telling Nelly that he would keep a watch from the garden.

Critical Analysis

      The calmness of Catherine's sick state is violently broken in upon by Heathcliff's envy. This chapter marks the climax of the passionate relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. The two declare their love for each other with a vehement and passionate intensity of feeling. Heathcliff's love for Cathy is so great that he is ready to risk entering the house. Cathy herself is beyond all sane thought and sure now of her impending death is anguished that her love for Heathcliff has been frustrated and thwarted by the attitudes of both Heathcliff and husband.

      The show of passion which ensues is of animal intensity: Heathcliff grinds his teeth and, foams like a mad dog. One cannot but feel sympathy for these two souls so irrevocably bound to each other yet in this, their last encounter, they rend each other's souls.

      The spiritual destruction they wreak upon each other is apparent in Heathcliff's declaration that "in very, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us" had Catherine not done it herself. This echoes as well as negates St. Paul's assertion of the redemptive power of the love of God: neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God."

      It is at this point that Heathcliff is convinced that Catherine will haunt him; the 'twenty years hence' of her prophecy is however, recalled by Lockwood in his nightmare.

      The reader no doubt sympathizes with the profound love of Cathy and Heathcliff but at the same time one feels sympathy for Edgar—the loving and devoted husband wronged by both Cathy and Heathcliff.

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