CliffsNotes on Brontë's Wuthering Heights

By Richard P. Wasowski | Go to book overview

Chapter 16

Summary

At midnight that night, Catherine’s daughter Cathy is born two months prematurely; two hours later, Catherine dies. In the morning, Nelly seeks Heathcliff to tell him the news, but he is already aware of the situation. He is angered that Catherine did not mention his name in her dying moments and is despondent over losing her. He simultaneously curses her spirit while lamenting his loss.

Edgar watches over Catherine’s body by day; Heathcliff watches over it by night. Heathcliff replaces a lock of Edgar’s hair from the trinket around Catherine’s neck with some of his own. Nelly finds the strands of Edgar’s hair and ends up intertwining both his and Heathcliff’s with hers. To everyone’s surprise, Catherine is buried in the churchyard, by a low wall, just feet from the moors.


Analysis

Edgar suffers two losses in this chapter — the death of his wife and the birth of a non-heir. Because Cathy is not a male, she legally is not Edgar’s heir, and complicated laws end up leaving Thrushcross Grange to Isabella, and then to her son. This is not to suggest that Edgar does not love Cathy; he adores her, and she is his world. He just hates the fact that his rival may end up with his property.

With the shock of Catherine’s death, Heathcliff implores her to haunt him: “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” He is clearly devastated by the death of his one true love, and although Heathcliff has done dastardly deeds throughout the text, most readers tend to sympathize with him and the loss he is feeling.

Edgar is devastated too, but by burying Catherine near her beloved moors, Edgar demonstrates both the depth of his love for his wife as well as insight into understanding her character. He wants Catherine to be happy and at peace, and this is one final gesture he can give to show his love.


Glossary

suffused overspread so as to fill with a glow.

goaded driven by a strong impulse.

interment burial.

-29-

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CliffsNotes on Brontë's Wuthering Heights
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents 1
  • Wuthering Heights at a Glance 2
  • Book Summary 4
  • About Wuthering Heights 5
  • Character List 7
  • Summary and Analysis 8
  • Chapter 1 9
  • Chapter 2 11
  • Chapter 3 13
  • Chapter 4 15
  • Chapter 5 17
  • Chapter 6 18
  • Chapter 7 20
  • Chapter 8 21
  • Chapter 9 22
  • Chapter 10 23
  • Chapter 11 24
  • Chapter 12 25
  • Chapter 13 26
  • Chapter 14 27
  • Chapter 15 28
  • Chapter 16 29
  • Chapter 17 30
  • Chapter 18 32
  • Chapter 19 34
  • Chapter 20 35
  • Chapter 21 36
  • Chapter 22 38
  • Chapter 23 39
  • Chapter 24 40
  • Chapter 25 41
  • Chapter 26 42
  • Chapter 27 43
  • Chapter 28 44
  • Chapter 29 45
  • Chapter 30 46
  • Chapter 31 47
  • Chapter 32 48
  • Chapter 33 49
  • Chapter 34 50
  • Character Analysis 51
  • Heathcliff 52
  • Catherine Earnshaw 53
  • Edgar Linton 54
  • Cathy Linton 55
  • Hareton Earnshaw 56
  • Ellen (Nelly) Dean 57
  • Character Genealogy 58
  • Emily Brontë Biography 59
  • Critical Essays 61
  • Major Themes 62
  • The Narrative Structure 63
  • Class Structure 64
  • Heathcliff’s Obsession 65
  • Study Help 66
  • Full Glossary 67
  • Essay Questions 75
  • Practice Project 76
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