Wuthering Heights: Chapter 27 - Summary & Analysis

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      Edgar's health deteriorates rapidly and Catherine is in no mood to leave her father and visit Linton the following Thursday.

      She however, goes for a short while during the afternoon. Linton is waiting for them, but he is no better than on his previous visit. He appears to be in abject terror and looks towards Catherine, half-supplicating and half-ashamed. His cowardice prompts Catherine to scorn him. Linton himself is wretched and calls himself worthless and cowardly. While they are thus, talking together Heathcliff arrives and invites them into the house. Nelly and Catherine refuse and Linton almost collapses with fear. He whispers to Catherine that he dares not enter the house without her, so she accompanies him.

      Once they are inside the house, Heathcliff turns the key in the lock and they are prisoners. Cathy however, is unafraid and tries to take the key from Heathcliff who refuses to give it. She then bites his hand and Heathcliff violently slaps her head a number of times. Nelly rushes to protect Catherine but Heathcliff knocks her out too, with a heavy blow.

      Amidst all the violence, Linton peevishly demands his tea. He explains then, to Catherine that Heathcliff intends to keep them there that night and force Catherine to marry Linton in the morning. Cathy is now concerned about her father who will miss her. When Heathcliff returns to the room after a few minutes absence, she appeals to him to let her go. She promises to marry Linton and sees no reason why Heathcliff should use force when she and her father were both willing to agree to the match. However, Heathcliff is adamant and even delighted to think of Edgar's suffering and anxiety.

      Since, the housekeeper—Zillah is away, they are locked in her room for the night. Catherine is allowed to be taken out the next day but Nelly is kept prisoner for another four or five days. Hareton brings food for her once a day, but refuses to speak to her.

Critical Analysis

      Several dramatic events occur in the chapter. It is now clear that Linton has all along been writing letters and acting on Heathcliff's instructions. Heathcliff has fiendishly pursued his plans of revenge and finally has Cathy and Nelly at his mercy as prisoners in Wuthering Heights. He appears more abhorrent than ever and is unnecessarily violent towards Cathy and Nelly. Pitiless, heartless and relentless, his vindictiveness seems insatiable.

      Linton appears in totally unfavorable light. Cowardly and terrified of his father he does a grave wrong in cheating Cathy and Nelly to come over to the Heights. Only Catherine and Nelly appear in good light in this chapter. Cathy shows the same spirited character that was her mother's and is not the one to be cowed down by Heathcliff's brutality. Nelly also admirably stands up to Heathcliff to defend her mistress.

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