Dreams in Wuthering Heights

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

In ''Wuthering Heights'' by Emily Bronte, Lockwood's nightmares on the night he spent at Wuthering Heights parallel the struggles faced by other characters throughout the novel. In this lesson, we will learn about Lockwood's dreams.

Stories from the Subconscious

What do your dreams teach you? Dreams are the fragmented stories created by our subconscious during sleep. Dreams are mentioned throughout Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, but the dreams that stand out the most are the pair of nightmares that Lockwood has on the night he spends at Wuthering Heights. Bronte uses Lockwood's dream to parallel Catherine and Heathcliff's traumatic story of unforgiveness and pain. Leot's learn more about Lockwood's dream.

Joseph and Lockwood Go On a Pilgrimage

On the night that Lockwood, the tenant at Thrushcross Grange, spends at Wuthering Heights, he glances over the books in his room, which was once Catherine's room. Though now deceased, Catherine grew up at Wuthering Heights. Just before falling asleep, Lockwood sees a book called, Seventy Times Seven, and the First of the Seventy-First. A Pious Discourse delivered by the Reverend Jabez Branderham, in the Chapel of Gimmerden Sough. This is not the type of book that Catherine would voluntarily read, but her punishments as a child were doled out by Joseph, the pious servant.

Lockwood dreams that Joseph is guiding him home, admonishing Lockwood for not bringing his pilgrim's staff necessary for getting into the house. The pilgrim's staff is an allusion, or historical reference, to a religious symbol carried by Christians in the Middle Ages making a journey for the purpose of receiving penance for their sins. Joseph is carrying a club.

Lockwood realizes he is not going home, but to church to hear the author of the book, Reverend Jabez Branderham, preach. Lockwood knew that either Joseph, Jabez, or himself had committed the 'first of the seventy-first' sin.

The 'first of the seventy-first' is a biblical allusion from the New Testament, Matthew 18:21-22, in which Jesus tells Peter that he should forgive his brother's transgressions against him seventy times seven times. The suggestion is that one of these three men has committed an unforgivable sin and '…were to be publicly exposed and excommunicated.'

The dream features at this point come directly from Lockwood's subconscious with a mixture of recent experiences and allusions to religious teachings. Within the dream, Lockwood is led to contemplate the concept of forgiveness, which is parallel to the story of Catherine and Heathcliff. Heathcliff (Catherine's adopted brother who was in love with her) never forgave Catherine for marrying Edgar.

The Sermon

There is a full house as Jabez preaches inspiring words, breaking down his sermon into 490 identified sins. Lockwood remembers thinking some of them strange as he never previously considered them sins. Lockwood struggles to stay awake. When Jabez reaches the 'first of the seventy-first', Lockwood jumps out of his chair and accuses Jabez as being the sinner, asking the congregation to attack him, naming 'preaching too much' as his sin.

Jabez retaliates saying, 'THOU ART THE MAN!' naming the ultimate sin as thinking that anything is unforgivable. To absolve Lockwood of his sin, the congregation attacks him with their pilgrim's staves.

Lockwood doesn't have a weapon, but starts wrestling with Joseph. Most of the blows do not land on Lockwood, but on other members of the congregation, causing the entire group to begin attacking one another. Jabez begins to rap his staff on the pulpit, which wakes Lockwood as he realizes that a tree branch is rapping against the window.

This part of the dream symbolizes how laying blame on others, as Heathcliff and Catherine have done, hurts everyone around, just as it has hurt the residents of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange for generations.

Catherine's Ghost

At this point, Lockwood is half-asleep so it is unclear whether the next part is reality or a dream. When Lockwood is unable to open the window to stop the rapping sound, he sticks his hands through the glass. When he reaches for the branch, his hands instead wrap around icy, cold fingers. It is Catherine's ghost claiming to have gotten lost and asking to be let in. Unable to pull his hands away, Lockwood begins rubbing Catherine's wrists against the broken glass until they bleed.

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