Wuthering Heights: Chapter 3 - Summary & Analysis

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      Zillah leads Lockwood to a bedroom upstairs which is not normally used. She urges caution as Heathcliff allows no one to sleep in it. He settled down for the night in a bed situated beside a window and within a paneled cupboard. While placing the candle on the window ledge, he notices the names of Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff and Catherine Linton scratched on the pane. He looks through the books lying on the window ledge and finds a diary written in a childish hand — the diary of Catherine Earnshaw written 25 years previously. He falls into an uneasy sleep.

      His sleep is haunted by a series of nightmares. He sees himself having a trying experience with Joseph, a preacher named James Branderham, and the number seventy times seven. He finally sees himself unable to open the window to reach the branch of a tree outside. He breaks the pane and finds his fingers gripped by the icy fingers of Catherine, whose childish face, peeps through the window. Terrified and unable to free his hand, he drags the ghostly child's wrist across the broken pane until the blood runs and soaks the bed-cloths. He snatches his hand inside, but the ghost does not disappear and driven to a frenzy by her moaning and begging to come in, he screams aloud.

      This brings Heathcliff on the scene in a state of great agitation, muttering at last. He is upset to find his guest in the oak closet. Lockwood has had enough of the strange experience in the haunted chamber. He describes his nightmare to Heathcliff, dresses as quickly as possible and leaves.

      As he looks back at Heathcliff the scene is almost as fearful as his nightmare. Heathcliff is in a passion of tears and wrenching open the window he cries out to the ghostly child "Cathy - do come. Oh, do - Once more!"

      Next morning Lockwood returns to the Grange safely escorted by Heathcliff after having spent the rest of the night in the back kitchen. The members of the household have been as hostile to him and to one another as they had been the previous evening.

Critical Analysis

      This is an important chapter as the events described here are seminal to the whole book. Lockwood's nightmare raises a dead Catherine Earnshaw whom we have not yet met in flesh. It is not clear however whether these incidents are real or imaginary—part of the nightmare. Catherine Earnshaw's diary presents a completely different perspective of Heathcliff. The diary sympathetically presents the boy Heathcliff, beaten, bullied and ill-treated. The method of multiple narration is here introduced. Within Lockwood's narrative, Emily Bronte has introduced the narration from Catherine's diary.

      The window in Catherine's bedroom at Wuthering Heights is also significant as much of the action of the book takes place there.

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