Wuthering Heights: Chapter 20 - Summary & Analysis

Also Read


      Edgar instructs Nelly to deliver Linton to Heathcliff the next morning as he does not want Heathcliff to come to Grange to personally claim his son.

      Linton is displeased to be woken up at five in the morning and does not want to go to a father he has never heard of before. However, he has no choice and sets off on Cathy's pony accompanied by Nelly.

      Since Isabella had kept him in total ignorance about his father, Linton is inquisitive and questions Nelly about him. Nelly describes Heathcliff and tries to convince Linton that his father will love him, though she herself does not believe it.

      When they arrive at the Heights, Heathcliff is shocked at Linton's sickly appearance and mocks him cruelly, "what a lovely, charming thing! Have not they reared it on snails and sour milk, Nelly?" But nevertheless Heathcliff claims ownership of him—"he's mine" — for he plans to use Linton to acquire the property of the Grange.

      Linton is terrified of him and when Nelly leaves he cries to be taken back with her.

Critical Analysis

      Heathcliff's desire for revenge blinds him even to any bond with his son. Displeased as he is with Linton's resemblance to his mother, his plans for Linton are all for furthering his revenge against the Earnshaws and the Lintons. His words to Nelly have an ominous ring: "Yes, Nelly, my son is prospective owner of your place, and I should not wish him to die till I am certain of being his successor. Besides, he’s mine, and I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly lord of their estates my child hiring their children to till their father's lands for wages."

      It is indeed strange, that though the boy is only twelve years old, Heathcliff speaks of being his successor. His words to Nelly also indicate his plans of getting young Linton and young Catherine to marry so that Edgar's property would ultimately come to Linton. It is significant to note too, that Heathcliff refers to his own son as 'it' much the same way as Nelly had referred to Heathcliff when he was a boy.

      Heathcliff is bitter, too, about Isabella for having kept their son in darkness about the identity of his father and abuses her, "what a shame of your mother, never to waken your filial regard for me! you are my son, then, I'll tell you and your mother was a wicked slut to leave you in ignorance of the sort of father you possessed."

Previous Post Next Post