Wuthering Heights: Chapter 2 - Summary & Analysis

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Summary

      In spite of the cool reception, Lockwood pays another visit to the Heights the following afternoon. Walking the four miles through mud and heath he arrives just as it begins to snow. After much knocking at the door, a young man without a coat and shouldering a pitchfork arrives on the scene and leads him inside where a huge fire burns cheerfully. The table is laid for an evening meal.

      Lockwood tries to converse with a young lady who he assumes is Heathcliff's wife. She has an exquisite face, golden curls and beautiful eyes. But all this is marred by her scornful and disagreeable expression. She is extremely rude to Lockwood. The young man has free and haughty bearing despite an unkempt appearance of a common laborer. Heathcliff too is not enamoured at seeing Lockwood and savagely orders the girl to make tea. Since no one bothers to introduce him to anyone it is only after a series of awkward blunders that Lockwood learns that the girl is the widow of Heathcliff's son and that the sullen young man is called Hareton Earnshaw. Even after supper, he is treated with extreme incivility and rudely ignored. A quarrel breaks out between Joseph and Catherine, during which she tries to frighten him with threats of black magic.

      Lockwood realizes that night and snow have come on during his visit and he asks to be guided back to Thrushcross Grange. His request is refused, so seizing a lantern, he rushes out alone. Joseph sets the dogs on him and he is dragged down to the amusement of Hareton and Heathcliff. Zillah, the housekeeper rescues him and takes the dizzy Lockwood into the kitchen. Lockwood is left with no choice but to spend the night at the Heights.

Critical Analysis

      In this chapter we are introduced to some of the other major characters however, we are puzzled by the inmates of the Heights. There is an undercurrent of animosity between them. And once again the episode of the dogs emphasizes the streak of violence which is constantly felt at the Heights.

      A sense of mystery and suspense is introduced in this chapter with the reference to such words as 'magically', 'beneficent fairy', 'little witch', 'ghost', and by Catherine's assertion of her abilities in 'the Black Art'. The contrast between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange is also established. Wuthering Heights is full of life and warmth with its 'immense fire' and 'table laid for a plentiful evening meal. But its inhabitants are strange. Thrushcross Grange is cold, lonely and resistant to change.

      This chapter ends on a note of suspense with Lockwood having to stay back at the Heights, where he has so rudely been received and attacked twice by the dogs.

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