Wuthering Heights Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson will take a look at the drama-packed Chapter 9 of Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights'. This chapter has it all--a dramatic rescue, a marriage proposal, broken hearts, illness, deaths, and a wedding. Let's take a look!

Drunken Rage

Chapter 9 of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights has enough drama in it to make it suitable for a slot on day-time TV. The chapter opens with Hindley in a drunken rage again. We see Nelly trying to hide his son, Hareton, in a cupboard to protect him from his father's drunken ravings. Unfortunately, Hindley discovers Nelly's subterfuge and threatens to make her ''swallow the carving knife'' because of it. Nelly is quite used to this ill treatment, however, and finally succeeds in dissuading him from his murderous endeavors.

Child Abuse

Once Hindley stops trying to murder Nelly, he turns his mad attention on his frightened son. We learn that ill treatment of the boy is typical, so it makes perfect sense that Hareton is wary of his father. We are horrified to read next that Hindley (still holding the carving knife he tried to make Nelly swallow) suggests that the boy would look better with his ears cut off. After this gruesome suggestion, Hindley is offended that the boy will not give him a kiss and so he declares, ''As sure as I'm living, I'll break the brat's neck.'' We are just as alarmed as Nelly is when, after saying this, Hindley picks up the young boy and carries him up the stairs.

Heathcliff Accidentally Saves the Day

Hareton, still terrified of his drunken father, struggles against his grasp as they ascend the stairs. Once they are some distance up, the boy succeeds in freeing himself and plummets over the banister toward the floor below. Heathcliff is walking underneath at that very moment and instinctively catches the boy as he falls, delivering him safely. Most would be delighted to have been of such service, but Heathcliff has been harboring a dark grudge against Hindley and in this moment he feels he has ''made himself the instrument of thwarting his own revenge.'' Heathcliff would rather have let the boy die to satisfy his own vengeance! What a house full of awful people!

Woes in Love

After Hareton is saved, Hindley goes off to drink some more, and Heathcliff sits down to brood by the fire. Not knowing Heathcliff is nearby, Catherine approaches Nelly in a spirit of personal confidence in saying, ''Oh, dear! ... I'm very unhappy!'' Nelly, remembering too plainly Catherine's recent mistreatment of her in earlier chapters, is not terribly sympathetic at first. But Catherine presses on, telling Nelly that Edgar Linton, the wealthy neighbor, has proposed to her and she has accepted. Catherine enumerates all the great qualities about Edgar Linton (including his good looks and wealth), all the while ignorant of the fact that Heathcliff can hear her.

A Broken Heart

''It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff,'' Catherine tells Nelly, because Hindley has degraded him to the point of a servant. Hindley's revenge has been a success!

At this point, Heathcliff leaves the room, so he is not there to hear her go on to say, ''he shall never know how I love him...whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lighting, or frost from a fire.'' Had he heard that maybe he wouldn't have run away.

Catherine is devastated later to learn that Heathcliff heard some, but not all, of what she said. She searches frantically for him and waits up all night for his return, but he never comes. He has gone for good, it seems.

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