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Wuthering Heights Chapter 21 Summary

Instructor: Joseph Altnether

Joe has taught college English courses for several years, has a Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies and a Master's degree in English literature.

Chapter twenty-one of Emily Bronte's ''Wuthering Heights'' reunites Cathy with her cousin, Linton, and sees Heathcliff attempt to encourage the development of a romantic relationship between the two.

Cathy's Birthday

When there is great distance between family members, it can make get-togethers a festive affair. Unfortunately, celebrations come to an end, and that makes parting equally sorrowful. In chapter 21 of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, a young Cathy is upset that her cousin Linton has left her and gone back home. Her father, Edgar, attempts to soothe her, as does Ellen, her nurse. Ellen inquires about Linton and learns that he is occupied with his studies and battling poor health.

From this point, Ellen moves ahead in her narrative to Cathy's sixteenth birthday. Cathy wants to go to the edge of the moors to celebrate her birthday, and uses this freedom to run ahead of Ellen much farther than she initially promised. At the end of the hilly terrain, it drops off and becomes much like a cliff face, or nab. Cathy traverses this stretch of land and ventures into territory that is owned by Heathcliff. Unbeknownst to Cathy, by visiting Heathcliff's home, she is about to pay a visit to her cousin, Linton.

Encounter with Heathcliff

All the running that Cathy does through the hills places her well within the boundary of Heathcliff's land. And who should Cathy encounter, but Heathcliff. With what appears to be a gesture of good will, Heathcliff invites both Ellen and Cathy back to his place for a bit of a rest. Cathy readily agrees, but Ellen is hesitant and indicates that they should be getting back home. Heathcliff grabs Ellen's arm and insists that they stop for awhile. Cathy hurries toward Heathcliff's home, while Ellen is forced to walk behind with Heathcliff. He explains to Ellen his plan to get Cathy and Linton together. He wants Linton to marry and sees Cathy as a good match. Ellen questions his motives.

Cathy and Linton

Cathy rejoices at seeing Linton again. She cannot believe how much he has changed. Hareton makes a brief appearance, but Cathy does not find him too bright. She ventures outside with Hareton at Heathcliff's request, while Linton chooses to remain inside. Linton appears to be languid, his movements slow and labored. Heathcliff tells him to go after them, and the two cousins share some merriment at Hareton's expense. When they return, Heathcliff reminds Cathy as she is leaving that this visit must remain secret, for Edgar would bar any future visits. Cathy cannot keep this visit a secret and informs her father the next morning. Edgar is not pleased by this news, and is not in favor of their relationship developing any further than this one visit.

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