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Wuthering Heights Chapter 3: Summary and Analysis

Chapter III Wuthering Heights: Summary and Analysis


The third chapter is very important in terms of understanding Heathcliff’s character and behavior. Readers get a first impression of what Catherine might have been like. This turns out to be a scarier meeting than the first Lockwood had with Heathcliff. He has a nightmarish experience because he is forced to stay overnight at the Heights. In his dream in a small uninhabited room, he hears of the Seventy Times Seven and the first sin from Jabez who accuses Lockwood of having committed the Seventy First. Catherine’s ghost haunts him and he gets slight glimpse of Heathcliff’s past from her diary. All the things he had read in the diary start coming to his mind in the form of a nightmare making him yell. Poor Catherine on the window asking for entry terrifies him badly and he wakes Heathcliff up. He is startled to see the poor creature crying alone for Catherine. Lockwood was surprised to feel the emotions under his ill tempered and nearly insane behavior. In the morning he leaves accompanied by Heathcliff and with mixed feelings, still unable to understand the jumble completely. 

While Zillah led Lockwood to his room upstairs, she asked him to hide the candle and not make any sound for the room she was going to put him in was an odd room and her master did not like anyone there. Lockwood asked the reason and she said she had been there only a few years and seeing the state of affairs there was no way she would get curious.  Lockwood closed the room soon after he got in and started looking for the bed. Apart from a chair and a clothes press, there was a large oak case, the room had hardly any furniture. The old fashioned couch was meant for one person and also worked as a closet. The ledge of the window served as a table. Upon the ledge were a few books with Catherine’s name written on them – sometimes with the title Earnshaw, sometimes Heathcliff and then Linton. While he pondered on the names, it seems he fell asleep and the name started flashing in his mind in white letters. His nostrils were felt by a strange smell which woke him up.  The candle was burning the cover of one of the books and after blowing the candle down, he put the book in his lap and started reading it page by page. It was a testament and from its look, Lockwood observed that it was well used. She had used the black spaces on its pages to write things some of which were broken sentences and some of which were like a regular diary.

A caricature of Joseph on one of the pages deepened Lockwood’s interest in Catherine.  He started reading the account of a rainy day when Catherine’s father had just died and her and Heathcliff’s troubles had just begun. She and Heathcliff and a ploughboy were ordered to read their prayer books while Hindley and his wife sat before the fire reading their Bibles. The service had lasted three hours after which came grouching Hindley’s wife and promising she would tear anyone who made a noise. She asked her husband to pull Heathcliff’s hair and he followed. Joseph who was free after his master’s death also became a participant in teasing and torturing the two. When Catherine protested he called his master who pulled the two into the back kitchen furiously. She got to writing for twenty minutes while Heathcliff was anxious to sneak out under the dairywoman’s cloak. They would be better outside than here in the damp kitchen.

After that the subject changed. Now, she wrote of the ill treatment of Heathcliff at the hands of Hindley after her father’s death. Hindley had made her cry and her head was aching. He called Heathcliff a vagabond and promised to turn him out if they broke his orders of not eating or playing with him. He swore to reduce Heathcliff to his right place and cursed his father for having treated Heathcliff too liberally. Soon Lockwood started to feel drowsy and his eyes wandered from the handwritten account to print “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.’ He was wondering what it contained when he dozed off. He started dreaming even before he was in deep sleep and in his dream he had taken off to the Grange with Joseph as his guide. He had not brought his pilgrim’s staff and Joseph constantly reproached him for it, telling him he could not gain entry into the house without it. While Lockwood thought what could stop him from entering his own house, it came to his mind that they were going elsewhere. They were going to hear the famous Jabez Branderham preach, from the text – ‘Seventy Times Seven; and either of the two had committed the first of the seventy first and were to be exposed. Soon they had reached the chapel which he happened to cross on his journey to Heights. There was no clergyman because of the low payment. However, Jabez had a full congregation there and was preaching Four Hundred and Ninety parts with each discussing a separate sin.  These were sins Lockwood had never heard of before and he grew weary. He would stand up and again sit down and bored he asked Joseph to tell him when it was all over.

At last came the Seventy First and something inspired him  to get up and accuse Jabez of having committed the sin. He asked the crowd to pull him down and crush Jabez upon which the preacher cried back that it was he who had committed the sin and called his fellow bretheren to execute upon him the righteous punishment. Everyone pounced upon Lockwood with his staff while he tried to grab Joseph’s who being the nearest attacked him most ferociously. This woke Lockwood who remembered he was lying in the oak closet.  It was nothing but the branch of a fir tree that rattled on the pane. He again dozed off and started dreaming. Even in his dream, he could hear the rattling of the branch and was not amused so decided to silence it. He got up and walked to the window and through it put his hand out to hold the branch that was making all the noise.  However, instead of a branch his hands landed on a ice cold hand. While he tried to draw his hand back out of fear, the icy hands clung on to his. A melancholy voice asked him to let it in. He asked who it was and the voice replied Catherine Linton. Lockwood could not think why Catherine Linton because he had read Catherine Earnshaw many more times. Lockwood grew so afraid that he mercilessly rubbed the wrist on window pane from which blood trickled and drenched the bedsheet. Her grasp on Lockwood’s hands tightened and she was unwilling to let him go asking for entry again and again.

Lockwood acted cleverly and asked her to let his hand go so he could let him in and soon after she released it he closed the pane and piled the books against the window.  Her prayer continued and she again asked for entry saying she had been without home and friends (a waif) for twenty years. Lockwood was crying in his dream that he will not let her enter and his own yelling made him wake up when Heathcliff appeared with a candle. He asked in a feeble voice if anyone was there and was startled by the creaking of the oak bed. The candle fell from his hands and Lockwood revealed his presence. A curse tried to issue from his lips but then Heathcliff controlled himself.   He asked who had showed him into this room. He would turn them out of the house right away. Lockwood had lost his patience. He said it was Zillah who had put him in this room filled with goblins and ghosts. Heathcliff asked him to finish the night in the room but not make the horrid noise as if someone was trying to cut his throat.  Then Lockwood mentioned Jabez Brandderham and Catherine Linton and how the little fiend told him she had been walking the earth for twenty years. He called her a wicked soul who was punished fairly for her gross transgressions. However, soon he was reminded of Heathcliff’s association with Catherine as he had collected from the diary, but he felt humiliated to accept his mistake.

Heathcliff beat his head in rage. The talk had affected him and it was evident because he was swaying between rage and helplessness. Lockwood felt pity for him and explained his behaviour. He told him about the dream and how his imagination might have gone out of control after having read Catherine’s name several times. He was thinking it was six, while it was only three. Heathcliff told him they went to bed at nine and woke up by four. Sleep had left him after hearing Lockwood’s cry and he offered Lockwood his own room. However, Lockwood declined saying he was going to wander in the yard till the morning and then be off. He was not going to seek company in the society but will remain content with his own. Heathcliff asked him to wander in the passage and not in the yard since the dogs were out in the open. Lockwood obeyed and left the room but stood still outside which made him witness such superstitious behavior that hardly rhymed with Heathcliff’s normal attitude. He opened the window and sobbed asking Catherine to come in for once. The wind blew out Lockwood’s candle. He was anxious at having caused such grief without understanding the reason behind Heathcliff’s sudden change of mood.  Anxious, he reached the back kitchen where he was welcomed by a cat. He lay there on one of the two benches encircling the hearth. Joseph came there to light his pipe and started smoking. Lockwood did not feel like disturbing him. After he was gone, entered Hareton who was starting his day mumbling curses. It made Lockwood think, he too could leave and so he waved to Hareton who pointed towards an inner door. It opened into the house where Zillah was making a fire and Mrs Heathcliff seemed busy with a book. He also saw Heathcliff who had just finished scolding Zillah and now hurdled curse on Mrs Heathcliff asking her to be damned or he was going to make her pay for being such a burden. The young lady shot back an appropriate reply.  Heathcliff raised his hand and she leapt to a distance to avoid further confrontation. She remained muted throughout the remaining of Lockwood’s stay who decided to leave without breakfast. As the first light of dawn shone, he leapt out to leave. Heathcliff offered to accompany him which was good for Lockwood, since he might have tripped somewhere on the snow covered road.

The pits were levelled with snow, making it difficult to identify them and the whole place looked a white ocean. However, on one side of the road at the interval of every six yards there were stones erected to mark the road. Heathcliff warned him frequently on their way to take left or right to avoid falling into one of the pits. Except that they had little conversation and Heathcliff left him at the Thrushcross Park from where he could take it alone. The clock chimes twelve a she entered meaning they had taken an hour per mile. As he entered, the housemaid came followed by others. All were worried about what happened to him last night and if he had perished. Asking them to be quite, he went upstairs to study and was enjoying cheerful fire and coffee that is servant had made.