Wuthering Heights By Emily Brontë Summary and Analysis Chapter 2

Summary

Lockwood returns to Wuthering Heights, and as he arrives, snow begins to fall. He knocks in vain, for, as Joseph explains, no one is willing or able to let him in. Eventually, a young man appears and beckons Lockwood to follow him. Once inside, Lockwood sees who he assumes is Heathcliff's wife and attempts to engage her in conversation. He does not succeed. Lockwood waits for Heathcliff's return, all the while making inaccurate assumptions and suppositions. The snowfall develops into a snowstorm, and Lockwood asks for assistance finding his way back to the Grange. Unable to get any help, he grabs a lantern that he says he will return in the morning. Joseph thinks he is stealing the lantern and commands the dogs to attack him. Lockwood ends up suffering a terrible nosebleed and is forced to spend the night at Wuthering Heights.

Analysis

Chapter 2 primary serves as an introduction to characters — Zillah, known formerly as only the "lusty dame" is now identified; Nelly Dean is mentioned but not named; Hareton Earnshaw (whose name matches the inscription over the door) is named but his presence is not explained; and the "missis" is introduced as Heathcliff's widowed daughter-in-law, though her first name is not mentioned either. In what is almost an aside, Joseph mentions the mother of Mrs. Heathcliff, claiming she went straight to the devil. Providing mostly exposition, the information is neither straightforward nor entirely explained, again creating a bit of mystery. Clearly these characters, who do not get along, let alone like one another, are somehow tied together.

Introducing these characters to the reader is Lockwood, who again serves as narrator of these events, although Nelly, the unnamed housekeeper, serves as the primary narrator for the majority of the novel. Immediately, Lockwood's reliability is again called into question. First of all, his decision to return to Wuthering Heights is itself questionable — he is not invited, the weather is poor, and he is not sure of the way. Yet, after he arrives, he is annoyed that the inhabitants are being inhospitable. He has unrealistic expectations, which he presumes will be met. When Hareton leads him inside, Lockwood waits for the "missis" to ask him to be seated, which of course she does not do. Hareton orders him to be seated, and in an attempt to make polite conversation, Lockwood misidentifies a heap of rabbit pelts as pets and misidentifies the woman as Heathcliff's wife. After being corrected by Heathcliff, Lockwood then mistakes Hareton as Heathcliff's son. Lockwood's inability to read people and situations make his narration suspect.

In addition to the development of Lockwood's character, important bits of information about other characters are revealed. Joseph, although fanatically religious, is also superstitious. Hareton is fiercely proud about his heritage. Mrs. Heathcliff is a paradoxical beauty who does not like being at Wuthering Heights but is not permitted to leave. And Heathcliff has lost both a wife and a son. At this point in time, these characters are intriguing but not sympathetic.

Glossary

N.B. [Latin nota bene] mark well; used to call attention to an item.

assiduity careful attention.

moors open rolling land that cannot be used for farming due to poor drainage.

sagacity keen or wise perception.

austere somber.

taciturn silent.

amiable good natured and pleasant.

diabolical very wicked or cruel.

box his ears slap him on the head.

Black Art witchcraft.

guffaw loud laughter.

copestone here, a finishing touch.

miscreants those having vicious behavior.

King Lear the title character in Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear; here, mentioned by Lockwood to show his education, distancing himself from the lower class.

copious very plentiful.

benevolent showing goodwill.

moroseness sullen mood.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Under what male names did Charlotte, Emily, and Ann Brontë publish a collection of poetry?




Quiz