Wuthering Heights Chapter 16 Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Chapter 16 of ''Wuthering Heights'' explores Linton's and Heathcliff's reaction to a tragic event. If you are feeling a bit lost, take a look at this lesson, in which we break down the important events of Chapter 16.

Real Life and Death

It is often said that everyone deals with death differently. Losing a loved one can change people for the better and sometimes for worse. In Chapter 16, Catherine dies, and just like in real life, everyone handles it differently.

A Rough Start

The narrator, Mrs. Dean, tells us that at twelve o'clock in the evening, Catherine gave birth to a daughter and then died shortly thereafter. The daughter's name is also Catherine. Everyone was so upset by the death and all the drama between Heathcliff and Catherine that the baby did not receive any attention during its first few hours of life. The narrator tells us that even though the baby cried, 'Nobody cared a morsel, during those first hours of existence.'

Heathcliff's Reaction

Mrs. Dean goes out the garden to tell Heathcliff that Catherine is dead. She knows that she has to tell him, but is also nervous to confront him. She reasons that if he was paying attention to the house at all, he will already know that something isn't right. People have been coming and going far more than usual. When she finds him, he does indeed already know that his wife is dead. He tells her 'don't snivel before me. Damn you all! she wants none of your tears!'

Despite his aggression, Heathcliff still wants to know how she died. He attempts to conceal his emotions even though his entire body is shaking, all the way to his finger tips. Mrs. Dean tells him that she died as 'quietly as a lamb' and simply stretched and then fell asleep and never woke up. Heathcliff asks if she mentioned him before she died, but Mrs. Dean tells him that she was not aware enough to comment on anything. Heathcliff loses it at this point and says ''May she wake in torment!'' Next, he begs her to haunt him saying ''Be with me always-take any form-drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!'' Sounds like Heathcliff is in the bargaining phase of accepting the death of Catherine.

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