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Wuthering Heights Chapter 4 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

Lockwood learns the origin of Heathcliff and about the members of the Earnshaw family from his servant Nelly. Finally, Lockwood can begin to understand why Heathcliff is such a miserable person.

Wuthering Heights

In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at Chapter 4 of Wuthering Heights , by Emily Brontë. In this chapter, Lockwood, the tenant of the mysterious Heathcliff, finally learns more about Wuthering Heights and the people who call it home.

Nelly Picks Up the Narrative

Lockwood returns home from his night at Wuthering Heights and locks himself into his study, not wanting anything to do with anyone. He's still shaken from the encounter with Heathcliff and what seemed like a ghost in the night. The next day, when his housekeeper Nelly Dean brings him his food, he mentions that he is curious about the people in the Wuthering Heights manor.

Wuthering Heights was impressive but in disrepair
Wuthering Heights was impressive but in disrepair

Lockwood asked the right person for information. Eighteen years ago, before coming to work at Thrushcross Grange (where Lockwood is staying), Nelly worked at Wuthering Heights. Lockwood asks her to tell him more about the people living in Wuthering Heights. Nelly, who loves to talk about the people in the manor, picks up the narrative of the novel.

How Heathcliff Came to Wuthering Heights

Nelly tells Lockwood that Heathcliff is rich, but very stingy with his money. His wife died, and the mysterious young woman living at the house now is named Catherine Linton. Her father owned Thrushcross Grange, where Lockwood now lives. Heathcliff used to be married to Isabella Linton, Catherine's aunt. The ragged young man at Wuthering Heights is Hareton Earnshaw, and he is a cousin of Catherine. Catherine is the last of the Lintons, and Hareton is the last of the Earnshaws, according to Nelly.

A ruined house on the moors
A ruined house on the moors

Lockwood asks Nelly why Heathcliff is so rude if he is supposed to be a gentleman. Nelly tells him that Heathcliff was adopted by the Earnshaw family. Nelly was at Wuthering Heights on the day Heathcliff was first brought there. Earnshaw's two children, Catherine Earnshaw (Catherine Linton's mother) and Hindley Earnshaw, were less than excited to see their new sibling, and their mother Mrs. Earnshaw tells her husband not to allow Heathcliff, whom she calls 'gipsy brat', to come inside.

The Earnshaws' Relationship With Heathcliff

The members of the Earnshaw family torment poor Heathcliff. Only Mr. Earnshaw takes care of the young boy, but this just makes the others resent Heathcliff more. Heathcliff is subjected to a lot of teasing and abuse especially from Hindley. This eventually leads Catherine to defend Heathcliff, and he and Catherine grow very close. Every day, they go out onto the moors around Wuthering Heights and play. This just makes Hindley hate Heathcliff even more.

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