Wuthering Heights: Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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      Hindley continues his life of drunken dissipation and terrorizes the young Hareton. He treats Hareton, either with immoderate fondness or with a madman's cruelty. One afternoon, he catches Nelly, hiding Hareton from him and threatens her with the carving knife. He boxes Hareton's ears and carries the screaming child upstairs and holds him over the banister. At that moment Heathcliff enters downstairs and by a reflex action catches Hareton as he fell and sets him on his feet. Nelly, very angry, snatches the child and goes into the kitchen, lulling him to sleep.

      Catherine comes into the kitchen to talk to Nelly. Neither of them realizes that Heathcliff is sitting quietly in a dark corner of the kitchen. Catherine makes the confession to Nelly that she is going to marry Edgar Linton.

Critical Analysis

      In this eventful chapter we learn of many thing: Hindley has become a heavy drunkard; Edgar has proposed marriage to Catherine and she has accepted the proposal. We learn also that Catherine herself realizes that there is deeper affinity between her and Heathcliff than between her and Edgar. Heaven for her is being Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights. Yet she prefers Edgar Linton because she thinks it socially degrading to marry Heathcliff. Heathcliff, unfortunately, only hears this and does not near her passionate cry, "Nelly, I am Heathcliff. He's always, always, in my mind." Heathcliff thus feeling rejected simply departs from Wuthering Heights and is not heard of again for a long time.

      Another important development in the plot is the death of Mr. and Mrs. Linton of Thrushcross Grange. The property at Thrushcross now passes to Edgar Linton. Three years later, he marries Catherine and believes himself to be the happiest man alive.

      The parallel between nature and human forces continues. There is strong wind and storm when Cathy confides in Nelly leading to Heathcliff leaving home. The tumult in nature is symbolic of the disturbance in human affairs.

      Significant are Cathy's remarks which reveal the difference between her placid love for Edgar and her passionate all consuming feelings for Heathcliff. She says, "My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I am well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff. He's always, always in my mind".

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