Summary and Analysis Chapter 17



Quite unexpectedly, Isabella arrives at the Grange in a state of physical disarray. She knows better than to think Edgar will allow her to stay, so she is not seeking refuge, just assistance. She tells Nelly that Hindley stayed sober to attend his sister's funeral, but lost his courage and started drinking the morning of the service. When Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights from keeping vigil at Catherine's grave, Hindley locks him out of the house and tells Isabella that he is going to kill Heathcliff. Isabella tells Heathcliff of Hindley's intentions but does not allow him entrance to the house.

Heathcliff bursts into the house through a window and ends up beating Hindley. The next morning Isabella accuses Heathcliff of being responsible for everyone's misery and tells Hindley how Heathcliff beat him. Heathcliff and Hindley begin fighting again as Isabella makes her escape. After telling her story to Nelly, she leaves for London. She ends up giving birth to a son, Linton. Edgar and she begin corresponding, though he withdraws from society. Thirteen years later, Isabella dies.

Hindley dies six months after Catherine's death, and Nelly returns to Wuthering Heights to check on both funeral arrangements and Hareton. Nelly finds out that Hindley was deep in debt and that Heathcliff held the mortgage. Heathcliff refuses to allow Hareton to go with Nelly, threatening to take possession of Linton.


In contrast to the previous chapter, all sympathy that readers gained for Heathcliff is lost when Heathcliff beats Hindley. During the beating, Hindley is the victim of his own past sins and Heathcliff's displaced anger and aggression about Catherine's death.

Soon after Catherine's death, Hindley dies too. The details are not exactly revealed, but Heathcliff claims Hindley "spent the night in drinking himself to death deliberately." Suicide is more probable than murder because Heathcliff had the chance to kill Hindley before but never did so.

Heathcliff has rough intentions with both Linton and Hareton. He refers to his own son as "it," not even affording Linton the level of respect of a person. And Heathcliff essentially steals Wuthering Heights from Hareton. Hareton is the rightful landowner, although the land is in debt. What Hareton should have inherited from his father is a mountain of debt with Heathcliff serving as the mortgagee. What happens, though, is Heathcliff assuming control of the property because he owns the mortgage.

This chapter marks the end of the first generation and the first half of Wuthering Heights. At this point in time, Heathcliff and Hareton are at Wuthering Heights, and Edgar and Cathy are at Thrushcross Grange. The second half of the novel in many ways mirrors the first, with Heathcliff longing for revenge, and willing to destroy anyone who is in his way.


despot anyone in charge who acts like a tyrant.

sceptre a rod or staff, highly ornamented, held by rulers on ceremonial occasions as a symbol of sovereignty.

stanchion an upright bar, beam, or post used as a support.

odious arousing or deserving hatred or loathing.

ruffian a brutal, violent, lawless person; hoodlum.

preter-human beyond that which is human; especially, superhuman.

recapitulation a brief repetition, as in an outline; a summary.

malevolence spitefulness; ill will.

ardent warm or intense in feeling; passionate.

flaying whipping.

inveterate settled in a habit, practice, or prejudice; habitual.

carrion dead flesh.

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