Wuthering Heights Chapters 17 - 20 Summary

The day after Catherine's burial, Isabella returned to Thrushcross Grange. She ran away from Wuthering Heights and her cruel husband. Heathcliff had returned to the household after being absent for about a week. He returned because the weather had turned and it was now cold and snowing. He was also in a foul mood, ready for a fight with anyone who got in his way. Hindley wanted to have that fight and tried to elicit Isabella's help in killing her husband. She would not help him, instead she warned Heathcliff of Hindley's intentions. Instead of heeding her warnings, Heathcliff crashed through the locked doors and attacked Hindley. He beat him until he was almost dead, then upon seeing what he had done, bound Hindley's wounds.

The next morning, Isabella baited her husband with words. She told him that Catherine's death was his fault, because Catherine and Edgar were happy until he came into their lives. For her impertinence she received a knife thrown into her neck. Hindley and Heathcliff fought because of this and Isabella took the chance to make her escape. Mrs. Dean packed her some clothes and sent a maid with her, as Isabella ran away to a town near London. There, some months later, she gave birth to a son named Linton.

Six months after his sister's death, Hindley finally drank himself to death. Heathcliff had taken advantage of Hindley's financial difficulties, by being the mortgagee of the house and lands owned by Hindley. He also decided he would bring up Hareton in his own way, by making the boy a servant in his own home.

Thirteen years later, Isabella died leaving her 12 year-old son without a mother. Before she died Isabella wrote her brother asking him to come to her, so that he may be with her in her final days. She also wanted him to become guardian for her son and take him home with him, after she had past.

Edgar, who was not as cold toward his sister as he was at the beginning of her marriage, left immediately for his sister's home. He left 13 year-old Catherine in the care of Mrs. Dean. He gave her strict orders not to let his daughter out of the park, under any circumstances. The child at first was saddened by her father's absence, but soon was feeling better. Mrs. Dean decided the child could ride her pony or walk around the park alone and have imaginary adventures. This worked fine for a while, as Catherine was a very obedient child. She did have one nagging desire, which was to see the Penistone Craggs, these were stones which were tall enough to have snow on them, even in the summer.

One day Catherine told Mrs. Dean she wanted to be an Arabian merchant and go into the desert. Mrs. Dean thinking nothing of it, allowed her to go on her adventure. It wasn't until tea time that she became worried, because Catherine was nowhere to be found. She was finally located at Wuthering Heights, where she was having a fine time talking to Hareton. She, of course, had no idea who he was or his relation to her. Mrs. Dean told the child it was time to go home, because darkness would be falling soon. Catherine had other ideas and did not want to leave, she thought Hareton was the master of the house or his son. She was shocked to find out that he was neither. So, she was further shocked when he would not do her bidding as a servant would. A house maid informed her of her relationship to Hareton and she was astonished to find she had a cousin. She was especially astonished to find she had such a crude cousin. It took all of Mrs. Dean's persuasive powers to keep Catherine from telling her father of the day's events.

Edgar had sent a letter to Mrs. Dean informing her of his sister's death, also when he and his nephew, Linton, would be arriving home. Catherine was excited, to once again, see her father and by the chance to have a playmate.

Their arrival was not as Catherine had planned, because Linton was a frail boy who was very sad about the loss of his mother. A further complication arrived in the form of Joseph, Heathcliff's servant. Heathcliff had sent him to retrieve the boy and bring him to Wuthering Heights, to be raised by his father. Edgar refused to turn the boy over to Heathcliff that night, because the boy was already in bed asleep. He told Joseph to tell Heathcliff he could have the boy the next day.

Mrs. Dean awakened Linton at five in the morning to take him to Heathcliff. The boy did not want to leave his uncle's home, because he felt safe there. He also did not have any idea that he had a father, because Isabella had never spoken to Linton about his father. He was curious as to who this man was and where he was going to live. It was necessary for Mrs. Dean to lie to him, so she told him he could visit his uncle.

Once at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff insisted upon referring to the boy as his property. He also made no secret of his disappointment in how frail he was and the fact that Linton looked so much like his mother. He assured Mrs. Dean that Linton would be treated well and educated. Because Mrs. Dean had no choice, she left the boy with Heathcliff.

Isabella finally made her escape from Heathcliff and her intolerable life with him. Isabella's death gave her son a chance to be brought up by Edgar and have a good life, but this was all changed by Heathcliff's demand to have the boy live with him.

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