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Vladimir Nabokov

Chapter 31

Lockwood calls on Wuthering Heights the next day but, finding Heathcliff out, he stays on to observe a quarrel between Cathy and Hareton. She continues to mock his lack of education, while he meanwhile has secretly been hoarding her books in an attempt to educate himself and thus please her. (Here he echoes Heathcliff’s better-natured sentiment from earlier in the novel, when he asks Nelly to make him decent.) Cathy will not allow for Hareton to have decent impulses, however, and continues to berate him. Hareton’s only recourse is to smack her. Then he throws her books into the fire, an act that hurts himself as much as it hurts her.

Heathcliff enters and is disturbed to see the passion in the room: Hareton, for example, reminds him of Catherine. Lockwood settles with Heathcliff (or at least attempts to do so), but Heathcliff (true to his contrary ways) tells Lockwood that there is no hurry and that he should leave sufficient funds behind should he not be able to cover his debts. Thus, the place remains Lockwood’s for the remainder of the lease, notwithstanding Lockwood’s desire to hand it over early.

On parting, Lockwood regrets that he did not have occasion to draw Catherine into his confidence, and that she did not see in him a worthy suitor and try to make herself a little more pleasing.

Chapter 32

This chapter begins with a new date: 1802. A year has passed, and Lockwood has found himself in the vicinity of Thrushcross Grange, and so has returned to see how events have transpired in his absence. He finds the Grange empty except for a few servants. Mrs. Dean, he is told, resides now at the Heights.

So, Lockwood sets off for Wuthering Heights. There he finds a much different scene. He hears the voices of Cathy and Hareton, the former kindly helping the latter to read, and the latter using soft and gentle tones in thanks. The difference is stunning, and Lockwood cannot guess at what has come over Wuthering Heights. Nelly, however, is on hand to inform him. She states that Heathcliff is dead and that his end was rather “queer.”

She picks up the narrative where it left off—that is, a fortnight after Lockwood’s departure last year. Heathcliff summons her to the Heights without explaining why, but only stating that he is tired of seeing Catherine and that he wants Nelly to keep her out of his way. Nelly agrees for Cathy’s sake.

Nelly is able to help the young Cathy and Hareton to become friends. Cathy drops her ill demeanor and shows patience and kindness to Hareton, who truly does want to be her friend, and is simply ignorant of good manners. Cathy shows him affection and forgiveness, and he opens up warmly to her. She promises to teach him to read and pledges not to make fun of him.

Hareton also reveals that he has often taken Cathy’s part in disputes with Heathcliff and that he has suffered much in defending her from him. Cathy is ignorant of these things, and it only serves to strengthen the friendship that has now kindled thanks to Cathy’s willingness to view Hareton with sympathetic eyes.

Nelly, in reflection, tells Lockwood that she is glad that he did not pursue Cathy when he had the chance, and that on Cathy and Hareton’s wedding day there will not be a happier woman than she in all of England.

In this chapter, the ultimate reversal is illustrated: Wuthering Heights becomes a place of loveliness, with the flowering of friendship between Cathy and Hareton and then Heathcliff’s death. Heathcliff’s death may be seen as a symbol of the death of vengeance and pride. Cathy and Hareton’s love may be seen as a representation of humility and forgiveness. Cathy and Hareton are thus a double of Catherine and Heathcliff, but with passion controlled and virtue placed above willfulness.

Chapter 33

Cathy and Hareton dig out some of Joseph’s favorite trees so that they may put them in a garden. Joseph complains to Heathcliff, who is astounded to see that Cathy and Hareton have become friends. Cathy attacks Heathcliff, and vice versa; Hareton is forced to intervene and defend Cathy, but Hareton also tells her that she should not be so insulting or vicious to Heathcliff. After all, Heathcliff is Hareton’s master, and even if he is evil, he should not be treated in such a way.

Once Cathy and Hareton have been expelled from the kitchen, Heathcliff confesses to Nelly that he is more and more haunted by Catherine. A strange change is coming over him. He is less and less interested in the corporeal world around him, and seems drawn to the spiritual world wherein Catherine resides.

This chapter brings the love of Cathy and Hareton before the eyes of Heathcliff, which is like another nudge for him to leave this world. Although he shows displeasure with them both, it may be seen not so much as an aversion to their happiness as a painful reminder of the loss of his own. He looks now for that happiness on the other side of the grave and longs to be there.

Chapter 34

Heathcliff stops attending meals with the others. He takes to walking at night, all night long. He seems excited and almost happy to Cathy when she meets him.

Heathcliff confides in Nelly that he wishes to draft his will, but that he does not know how to leave his property and would rather see it annihilated from the face of the earth. Indeed, this could be an indication of the guilt he feels for how he has acquired it all. His mind, however, is ever more focused on dying, and as he does not eat for days on end, nor appear to sleep, it is no surprise that death is near.

Heathcliff also speaks of his burial, and reminds Nelly to make sure that the sexton buries him as he has requested. He says that he does not want any minister or curate there to say prayers over his body; he believes that he will be in his heaven soon enough, when he is joined with Catherine.

One morning, Nelly finds Heathcliff’s windows open. It has rained all night, and Nelly is surprised to find the windows in such a state. She enters Heathcliff’s room. He is in bed with his eyes open. He is soaked from the rain. He is also dead. She tries to close his eyes, but they will not close. The open window may represent his soul finally escaping his body and the confines of Wuthering Heights; it may also represent that gate through which Catherine’s soul has come to visit him. At any rate, his eyes, presumably, now see what in life he could not possess.

His burial is carried out according to his wishes, even though it scandalizes the community. Soon, rumors spread that Catherine’s and Heathcliff’s ghosts may be seen walking the moors together. Nelly herself is told of a sighting by a shepherd boy whose sheep refused to proceed because of the ghosts that they, too, sensed in their presence.

Lockwood finishes relating the tale as told to him by Mrs. Dean. He leaves Wuthering Heights and passes by the grave of Heathcliff, marveling at how anyone could suspect that those two souls do not now rest in peace.

This chapter ends the novel and brings a final and lasting peace to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff has been discharged of his mortal coil, and Hareton and Cathy have inherited the house. Catherine and Heathcliff, it is speculated, now reside together in a world they could not inhabit while living.

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