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Chapter 12 in Wuthering Heights: Summary

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In chapter twelve of ''Wuthering Heights'' by Emily Bronte, Catherine has a psychotic break after locking herself in her room for three days. In this lesson, we will find out more about what happens in chapter 12.

Heathcliff and Catherine are Soul Mates

At this point in the story, Lockwood, the narrator is learning about the history of Wuthering Heights from Nelly, his servant who has worked with the family for many years. Nelly explains that when Hindley and Catherine's father brought home the orphaned boy, Heathcliff, Catherine and Heathcliff grew close. Hindley resents Heathcliff so after their father dies and Hindley returns to Wuthering Heights as its master, Heathcliff is treated as a farm hand and separated from Catherine. With the help of the Linton family, Catherine learns to be a lady. Although Catherine recognizes that Heathcliff is her soul mate, she feels that she must marry Edgar Linton because he is proper. When Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights many years later, he is wealthy, attractive, and proper. Heathcliff begins to court Edgar's sister, Isabella, out of revenge. When Edgar learns his intentions, Edgar asks Heathcliff to leave Thrushcross Grange, the Linton's home. In chapter twelve, there is much tension at Thrushcross Grange. Let's find out what happens in chapter 12 of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Catherine Loses Her Sanity

Have you ever been stuck in a house full of people who are angry with each other? After Heathcliff leaves the Grange, Isabella is in tears, Edgar is upset and waiting for an apology from Catherine, and Catherine refuses to eat or come out of her room for three days. When she finally emerges for fresh water and food, Catherine complains to Nelly that she is unloved. Upset that Edgar has been wrapped up in his books while she is 'dying', Catherine asks Nelly to tell Edgar she is in danger. Nelly refuses because Catherine has just eaten and is fine.

When Catherine tears up a pillow with her teeth and asks Nelly to open the window even though it is the middle of winter, Nelly begins to worry about Catherine's sanity. Catherine makes pictures out of the feathers of the pillow and begins to fear ghosts in the room.

When Nelly starts to leave, Catherine screams, then says, 'I thought I was lying in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because I'm weak, my brain got confused, and I screamed unconsciously. Don't say anything; but stay with me. I dread sleeping: my dreams appall me.'

Catherine is surprised to learn that it has only been three days since she shut herself in her room after the argument with Edgar. Following the argument, it seemed to Catherine that the last seven years had not happened and that she was back in her home in Wuthering Heights. She remembers how she felt right after the death of her father, when Hindley was trying to keep her from Heathcliff.

Catherine opens the window, letting in the cold air and shouts out to an imaginary Heathcliff, '…I'll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never will!'

Edgar Goes to Catherine

After hearing the sounds coming from Catherine's room, Edgar walks in. When Nelly explains to him Catherine's delirious state, he admonishes Nelly for not telling him sooner. Taking Catherine in his arms, she seems not to recognize him at first. When she does acknowledge him, she chastises him and turns him away, '…I don't want you, Edgar: I'm past wanting you. Return to your books.'

Have you ever taken out your anger on the wrong person? Edgar blames Nelly for Catherine's condition, but Nelly defends herself and mentions her loyalty to him. Nelly was the one who told Edgar about Heathcliff's visits to the Grange. Catherine overhears their conversation and decides that Nelly is a traitor.

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