Wuthering Heights Study Guide

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights is the story of the ruin of the Earnshaw family. Wealthy and well-bred citizens of the North of England, Mr. Earnshaw returns one day with a young and ill-favored boy named Heathcliff who he says he intends to foster. His son Hindley is repulsed, but his daughter Katherine grows close with Heathcliff and their unhealthy relationship forms the core of the novel. The story is told by Nelly Dean, the Earnshaw's housekeeper.

Wuthering Heights (1847)

  • "Wuthering" being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.
    • Mr. Lockwood (Ch. I).
  • No, I’m running on too fast: I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him.
    • Mr. Lockwood on Heathcliff (Ch. I).
  • Her position before was sheltered from the light: now, I had a distinct view of her whole figure and countenance. She was slender, and apparently scarcely past girlhood: an admirable form, and the most exquisite little face that I have ever had the pleasure of beholding: small features, very fair; flaxen ringlets, or rather golden, hanging loose on her delicate neck; and eyes— had they been agreeable in expression, they would have been irresistible.
    • Mr. Lockwood on Catherine Linton (Ch. II).
  • No, reprobate! You are a castaway - be off, or I'll hurt you seriously! I'll have you all modeled in wax and clay; and the first who passes the limits I fix, shall— I'll not say what he shall be done to — but, you'll see! Go, I'm looking at you!
    • Catherine Linton to Joseph (Ch. III).
  • As it spoke I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bed-clothes: still it wailed, "Let me in!", and maintained its tenacious grip, almost maddening me with fear.
    • Mr. Lockwood (Ch. III).
  • I am now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.
    • Mr. Lockwood (Ch. III).
  • What vain weathercocks we are! I, who had determined to hold myself independent of all social intercourse, and thanked my stars that at length I had lighted on a spot where it was next to impracticable. I, weak wretch, after maintaining till dusk a struggle with low spirits and solitude, was finally compelled to strike my colours; and under pretence of gaining information concerning the necessities of my establishment, I desired Mrs. Dean.
    • Mr. Lockwood (Ch. IV).
  • Rough as a saw-edge, and hard as whinstone! The less you meddle with him the better.
    • Nelly Dean on Heathcliff (Ch. IV).
  • He was, and is yet most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.
    • Nelly Dean on Joseph (Ch. V).
  • Instead of a wild, hatless little savage jumping into the house, and rushing to squeeze us all breathless, there lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified person with brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit which she was obliged to hold up with both hands that she might sail in.
    • Nelly Dean on Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. VII).
  • Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. VII).
  • "A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad", I continued, "if you were a regular black, and a bad one will turn the bonniest into something worse than ugly."
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. VII).
  • A person who has not done one half his day's work by ten o'clock runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. VII).
  • I went to hide little Hareton, and to take the shot out of the master’s fowling-piece, which he was fond of playing with in his insane excitement, to the hazard of the lives of any who provoked, or even attracted his notice too much; and I had hit upon the plan of removing it, that he might do less mischief if he did go the length of firing the gun.
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. VIII).
  • I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. IX).
  • 'I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other. I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. IX).
  • I can not express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger. I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm 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 Heathcliff - he's always, always in my mind - not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself - but as my own being; so, don't talk of our separation again - it is impracticable. am
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. IX).
  • She seemed almost over fond of Mr. Linton; and even to his sister she showed plenty of affection. They were both very attentive to her comfort, certainly. It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. X).
  • On a mellow evening in September, I was coming from the garden with a heavy basket of apples which I had been gathering. It had got dusk, and the moon looked over the high wall of the court, causing undefined shadows to lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting portions of the building. I set my burden on the house steps by the kitchen door, and lingered to rest, and draw in a few more breaths of the soft, sweet air; my eyes were on the moon, and my back to the entrance, when I heard a voice behind me say—
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. X).
  • I heard of your marriage, Cathy, not long since; and, while waiting in the yard below, I meditated this plan— just to have one glimpse of your face — a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure; afterward settle my score with Hindley; and then prevent the law by doing execution on myself. Your welcome has put these ideas out of my mind; but beware of meeting me with another aspect next time!
    • Heathcliff (Ch. X).
  • I have such faith in Linton's love that I believe I might kill him, and he wouldn't wish to retaliate.
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. X).
  • You are worse than twenty foes, you poisonous friend!
    • Isabella Linton to Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. X).
  • The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don't turn against him, they crush those beneath them.
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XI).
  • You are welcome to torture me to death for your amusement; only allow me to amuse myself a little in the same style. And refrain from insult as much as you are able. Having levelled my palace, don't erect a hovel and complacently admire your own charity in giving me that for a home. If I imagined you really wished me to marry Isabel, I'd cut my throat!
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XI).
  • "Cathy, this lamb of yours threatens like a bull!" he said. "It is in danger of splitting its skull against my knuckles. By God, Mr. Linton, I'm mortally sorry that you are not worth knocking down!"
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XI).
  • "If I were only sure it would kill him," she interrupted, "I’d kill myself directly! These three awful nights, I’ve never closed my lids — and oh, I’ve been tormented! I’ve been haunted, Nelly! But I begin to fancy you don’t like me. How strange! I thought, though everybody hated and despised each other, they could not avoid loving me."
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. XII).
  • Oh, I'm burning! I wish I were out of doors. I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free, and laughing at injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed?
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. XII).
  • I assure you, a tiger, or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which he wakens.
    • Isabella Linton on Heathcliff (Ch. XIII).
  • Any relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living.
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. XIII).
  • Should there be danger of such an event— should he be the cause of adding a single more trouble to her existence — why, I think I shall be justified in going to extremes! I wish you had sincerity enough to tell me whether Catherine would suffer greatly from his loss. The fear that she would restrains me: and there you see the distinction between our feelings. Had he been in my place, and I in his, though I hated him with a hatred that turned my life to gall, I never would have raised a hand against him. You may look incredulous, if you please! I never would have banished him from her society, as long as she desired his. The moment her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out and drank his blood! But till then, if you don't believe me, you don't know me — till then, I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his head!
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XIV).
  • I was a fool to fancy for a moment that she valued Edgar Linton's attachment more than mine; if he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in a day. And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have; the sea could be as readily contained in that house-trough as her whole affection be monopolized by him. Tush! He is scarcely a degree dearer to her than her dog, or her horse. It is not in him to be loved like me; how can she love in him what he has not?
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XIV).
  • I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething; and I grind with greater energy in proportion to the increase of pain.
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XIV).
  • You talk of her mind being unsettled - how the devil could it be otherwise, in her frightful isolation? And that insipid, paltry creature attending her from duty and humanity! From pity and charity. He might as well plant an oak in a flower-pot, and expect it to thrive, as imagine he can restore her to vigour in the soil of his shallow cares!
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XIV).
  • I shouldn’t care what you suffered. I care nothing for your sufferings. Why shouldn’t you suffer? I do! Will you forget me — will you be happy when I am in the earth? Will you say, twenty years hence, “That’s the grave of Catherine Earnshaw. I loved her long ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past. I’ve loved many others since — my children are dearer to me than she was, and, at death, I shall not rejoice that I am going to her, I shall be sorry that I must leave them!” Will you say so, Heathcliff?
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. XV).
  • The thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all. I’m tired, tired of being enclosed here. I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there; not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart; but really with it, and in it.
    • Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. XV).
  • Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you— haunt me then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe; I know that ghosts wandered on earth. Be with me always— take any form — drive me mad! Only not leave me in this abyss where I can not find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I live without my life! I live without my soul! have do can not can not
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XVI).
  • Yesterday, you know, Mr. Earnshaw should have been at the funeral. He kept himself sober for the purpose - tolerably sober; not going to bed mad at six o'clock, and getting up drunk at twelve. Consequently he rose, in suicidal low spirits; as fit for the church as for a dance; and instead, he sat down by the fire and swallowed gin or brandy by tumblerfuls.
    • Isabella Linton (Ch. XVII).
  • I’d be glad of a retaliation that wouldn’t recoil on myself; but treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.
    • Isabella Linton (Ch. XVII).
  • Oh, if God would but give me strength to strangle him in my last agony, I’d go to hell with joy.
    • Hindley Earnshaw (Ch. XVII).
  • The boy was fully occupied with his own cogitations for the remainder of the ride, till we halted before the farmhouse garden gate. I watched to catch his impressions in his countenance. He surveyed the carved front and low-browed lattices, the straggling gooseberry bushes, and crooked firs, with solemn intentness, and then shook his head; his private feelings entirely disapproved of the exterior of his new abode. But he had sense to postpone complaining— there might be compensation within.
    • Nelly Dean (Ch. XX).
  • Don't you think Hindley would be proud of his son, if he could see him? Almost as proud as I am of mine. But there's this difference, one is gold put to the use of paving stones; and the other is tin polished to ape a service of silver. Mine has nothing valuable about it; yet I shall have the merit of making it go as far as such poor stuff can go. His had first-rate qualities, and they are lost— rendered worse than unavailing.
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XXI).
  • My cousin fancies you are an idiot. There you experience the consequence of scorning "book larning," as you would say. Have you noticed, Catherine, his frightful Yorkshire pronunciation?
    • Linton Heathcliff to Hareton Earnshaw (Ch. XXI).
  • If thou weren't more a lass than a lad, I'd fell thee this minute, I would; pitiful lath of a crater!
    • Hareton Earnshaw to Linton Heathcliff (Ch. XXI).
  • The worst tempered bit of a sickly slip that ever struggled into its teens! Happily, as Mr. Heathcliff conjectured, he'll not win twenty! I doubt whether he'll see spring indeed— and small loss to his family, whenever he drops off; and lucky it is for us that his father took him. The kinder he was treated, the more tedious and selfish he'd be! I'm glad you have no chance of having him for a husband, Miss Catherine!
    • Nelly Dean on Linton Heathcliff (Ch. XXIII).
  • One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors, with the bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead, and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That was his most perfect idea of heaven's happiness— mine was rocking in a rustling green tree, with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds flitting rapidly above; and not only larks, but throstles, and blackbirds, and linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side, and the moors seen at a distance, broken into cool dusky dells; but close by great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze; and woods and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with joy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive, and he said mine would be drunk; I said I should fall asleep in his, and he said he could not breathe in mine.
    • Catherine Linton (Ch. XXIV).
  • He's such a cobweb, a pinch would annihilate him.
    • Heathcliff on Linton Heathcliff (Ch. XXIX).
  • His brightening mind brightened his features, and added spirit and nobility to their aspect.
    • Nelly Dean on Hareton (Ch. XXXIII).
  • I get levers and mattocks to demolish the two houses, and train myself to be capable of working like Hercules, and when every thing is ready and in my power, I find the will to lift a slate off either roof has vanished! My old enemies have not beaten me— now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their representatives. I could do it, and none could hinder me; but where is the use? I don't care for striking — I can't take the trouble to raise my hand! That sounds as if I had been labouring the whole time only to exhibit a fine trait ofmagnanimity. It is far from being the case. I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XXXIII).
  • I have neither a fear, nor a presentiment, nor a hope of death. Why should I? With my hard constitution, and temperate mode of living, and unperilous occupations, I ought to, and probably shall remain above ground, till there is scarcely a black hair on my head. And yet I cannot continue in this condition! I have to remind myself to breathe— almost to remind my heart to beat! And it is like bending back a stiff spring — it is by compulsion that I do the slightest act, not prompted by one thought; and by compulsion that I notice anything alive or dead, which is not associated with one universal idea. I have a single wish, and my whole being and faculties are yearning to attain it. They have yearned towards it so long and so unwaveringly, that I’m convinced it will be reached— and soon — because it has devoured my existence. I am swallowed up in the anticipation of its fulfilment. My confessions have not relieved me — but they may account for some otherwise unaccountable phases of humour which I show. Oh, God! It's a long fight, I wish it were over!
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XXXIII).
  • I've done no injustice, and I repent of nothing. I'm too happy, and yet I'm not happy enough. My soul's bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself.
    • Heathcliff (Ch. XXXIV).
  • " They are afraid of nothing," I grumbled, watching their approach through the window. "Together they would brave Satan and all his legions."
    • Mr. Lockwood (Ch. XXXIV).
  • My walk home was lengthened by a diversion in the direction of the kirk. When beneath its walls, I perceived decay had made progress, even in seven months - many a window showed black gaps deprived of glass; and slates jutted off, here and there, beyond the right line of the roof, to be gradually worked off in coming autumn storms.

    I sought, and soon discovered, the three head-stones on the slope next the moor - the middle one, gray, and half buried in heath - Edgar Linton's only harmonized by the turf and moss, creeping up its foot - Heathcliff's still bare.

    I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

    • Mr. Lockwood (Ch. XXXIV). (Closing lines).

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