Wuthering Heights

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Edgar Linton Character Analysis

Brother of Isabella, husband of Catherine, father of Cathy. Sweet, loving, and kind, Edgar is the picture of a country gentleman; he is very handsome and dotes upon both wife and daughter. He initially appears fragile, but, in fact, he is quite strong in a quiet, introspective way. He's not pure goodness, however: he despises Heathcliff and can be unforgiving.

Edgar Linton Quotes in Wuthering Heights

The Wuthering Heights quotes below are all either spoken by Edgar Linton or refer to Edgar Linton. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gothic Literature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Wuthering Heights published in 2009.
Chapter 3 Quotes
The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled up in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the paint. This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in all kinds of characters, large and small—Catherine Earnshaw, here and there varied to Catherine Heathcliff, and then again to Catherine Linton.
Related Characters: Mr. Lockwood (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: Wuthering Heights
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Having attempted to leave Wuthering Heights after an unsettling dinner, Lockwood is attacked by the dogs and suffers a nosebleed, forcing him to stay the night in a bedroom that Heathcliff does not normally let anyone use. Describing the room, Lockwood notes that it is damp and fairly empty, and on the window ledge he notices multiple versions of Catherine's name scratched onto the paint. The name signals that, as Lockwood will soon find out, the room is haunted by the ghost of Catherine. 

The fact that there are three different versions of Catherine's name––with the different surnames Earnshaw, Heathcliff, and Linton––highlights the legacy of Catherine's passionate and fickle emotions. At the same time, the names also emphasize the fractured nature of women's identities in the 19th century. When a woman married, she gained not only a new spouse and lifestyle but also essentially became a different person, with a new name and identity. The decision of who to marry was thus of pivotal importance for women, and Catherine's conflict over who to choose was thus inevitably tied to an identity crisis about who she was. Lockwood's description of her handwriting––"all kinds of letters, large and small"––further conveys this sense of inner conflict and turmoil. 

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Chapter 8 Quotes
Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect.
Related Characters: Ellen "Nelly" Dean (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine has been cruel to Heathcliff, calling him "foolish," and when Edgar arrives, Heathcliff leaves in a storm of anger. Nelly, narrating the story to Lockwood, frames the difference between the two men in terms of nature, a typical descriptive strategy in the novel. Heathcliff is compared to "a bleak, hilly, coal country"––not unlike the actual landscape of the Yorkshire moors. This underlines the close association between Heathcliff and the Yorkshire wilderness.

Edgar, meanwhile, is compared to a "beautiful fertile valley." Though "fertile" could be a reference to the Lintons' wealth, this description is also notably feminizing. This passage confirms the fact that Catherine is growing more and more attracted to the idea of a future with Edgar, and again, the notion of fertility is important, as it prefigures both a life of prosperity and the birth of Catherine and Edgar's beautiful daughter, Cathy.

Chapter 9 Quotes
I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and [Edgar's] is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine confides her conflicted thoughts about Edgar and Heathcliff to Nelly, unaware that Heathcliff is listening. After Catherine admits that it would "degrade" her to marry Heathcliff, Heathcliff leaves, and thus does not hear her confess that she loves him and that their souls are the same. This passage is pivotally important in the novel, because if Heathcliff had chosen to leave even a moment later he and Catherine might have ended up marrying after all. Such timing adds to the tragic drama of the plot. It also provokes the question of why Nelly chose not to intervene and explain to Catherine that Heathcliff had been listening. 

Catherine's words illuminate the mystical, uncanny nature of hers and Heathcliff's relationship. The statement that she loves him "because he's more myself than I am" has an eerie resonance considering they are technically brother and sister. It also illustrates the ways in which Catherine and Heathcliff's characters blur the boundaries of masculine and feminine, self and other.

Once again, nature is invoked to describe the fundamental differences between people. The suggestion that Catherine and Heathcliff's souls are made of "lightning" and "fire" indicates the fierce and destructive power of their love.

Nelly, I see now, you think me a selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother's power?
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Ellen "Nelly" Dean, Hindley Earnshaw, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine continues to reveal her thoughts to Nelly, explaining that she feels that she must marry Edgar in order to rescue Heathcliff from Hindley. This speech challenges the impression that Catherine has taken a liking to Edgar because she is fickle or drawn to his elegant lifestyle; at least according to her, she marries him because she hopes that it will enable her to help stop Hindley's vengeful treatment of Heathcliff. Such a choice illustrates the highly limited agency of women at the time. Without attaching herself to Edgar, Catherine is powerless to help Heathcliff. Indeed, the main part of what keeps Catherine and Heathcliff apart is the economic class system that restricts the freedom of certain people while giving others unlimited authority.

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath—a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Ellen "Nelly" Dean, Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Related Symbols: The Weather
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, one of the most famous of the novel, Catherine compares her relationships with Edgar and Heathcliff to different aspects of nature, concluding that her love for Heathcliff is permanent, and even declaring that she herself is Heathcliff. By comparing her feelings for Edgar to foliage, Catherine does not disparage these feelings, and the metaphor suggests that her relationship with Edgar will be more pleasant and prosperous than a marriage to Heathcliff could possibly be. 

At the same time, Catherine's description of her love for Heathcliff as resembling "the eternal rocks beneath" hints that their union is essential and fated. This sense of inevitability implies that––despite all that keeps them apart––they are destined to be together, and Catherine's mention of the rocks beneath prefigures the ending of the novel when she and Heathcliff are buried in the same place, finally together and at peace. 

The phrase "I am Heathcliff" is remarkable, and can be interpreted in a number of ways. On one level it might be considered the ultimate romantic statement, representing the absolute union of two people. On the other hand, it is also somewhat sinister and uncanny, especially situated in a novel that includes ghosts, doubles, and incestuous love. Such a declaration would have been especially alarming to Victorian readers, who would find it extremely strange for a woman to be saying that she is the man she loves. 

Chapter 11 Quotes
Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend—if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity!
Related Characters: Catherine Earnshaw Linton (speaker), Heathcliff, Edgar Linton
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Edgar has broken up a fight between Catherine and Heathcliff by forcing Heathcliff to leave Thrushcross Grange, and in response Catherine throws a tantrum to Nelly, threatening to make herself ill if she is prevented from seeing Heathcliff. During this speech Catherine in many ways resembles a child, refusing to compromise or concede that her demands might be unreasonable and selfish. Also like a child, Catherine has very little authority or control over her life because she is a woman, and as a result she sees harming herself as the only way to influence the situation.

As it turns out, this strategy is highly effective, and Catherine does end up gaining power over the others through this tactic of manipulation. Her childishness and stubbornness in this section of the novel are reminiscent of the ghost's tiny hand, which will not let go of Lockwood until it gets what it wants. 

Chapter 20 Quotes
My son is prospective owner of your place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his successor. Besides he's mine, and I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly lord of their estates: my child hiring their children to till their father's land for wages. That is the sole consideration which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate him for the memories he revives!
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Edgar Linton, Linton Heathcliff
Related Symbols: Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

Nelly has tried to reassure Linton that he shouldn't be afraid of his father, but Heathcliff turns out to behave incredibly cruelly towards his son, treating him in the same hateful way as he treated Edgar and Isabella. Linton resembles Edgar in his looks and demeanor, and doesn't seem to bear any similarity to Heathcliff at all. This makes it even more disturbing that Heathcliff is so insistent on the hereditary connection between him and Linton, emphasizing this relationship with the words "my son," "mine," "my descendent," and "my son." Clearly, Heathcliff wishes to enact his revenge through Linton; indeed, Heathcliff himself admits that this is the only reason why he tolerates Linton's presence. 

This passage thus confirms the importance of vengeance in the novel, and specifically reveals how Heathcliff wishes to overcome the humiliation he experienced through his class position by seeing Linton become the owner of Thrushcross Grange. The fact that he describes Linton as belonging to him suggests that he sees Linton himself as property, akin to the properties of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. 

Chapter 29 Quotes
I got the sexton, who was digging Linton's grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there, when I saw her face again—it is hers yet—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change, if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up—not Linton's side, damn him! I wish he'd been soldered in lead—and I bribed the sexton to pull it away, when I'm laid there, and slide mine out too. I'll have it made so, and then, by the time Linton gets to us, he'll not know which is which!"
Related Characters: Heathcliff (speaker), Catherine Earnshaw Linton, Edgar Linton
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:

Edgar Linton has died, and Heathcliff tells Nelly that he bribed the sexton burying Edgar's body to open Catherine's coffin and promise to eventually bury Heathcliff beside her. This is one of the most morbid moments in the novel, where Heathcliff's desire to be with Catherine's dead body has somewhat necrophilic overtones. Heathcliff's longing for Catherine literally becomes a longing for death. This passage also confirms the importance of death as the moment when Catherine and Heathcliff's union will finally be unchallenged, and Heathcliff's hope is that their remains will literally become one, indistinguishable from each other.

This passage also shows again how Heathcliff's passion extends both towards love for Catherine and vengefulness towards those whom he feels have wronged him. Thus his tampering with Catherine's grave is not just a morbid desire for union with his lost beloved, but also a spiteful gesture towards the recently-deceased Edgar.

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Edgar Linton Character Timeline in Wuthering Heights

The timeline below shows where the character Edgar Linton appears in Wuthering Heights. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
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...Cathy, and is the daughter of Catherine Earnshaw and the previous tenant of Thrushcross Grange, Edgar Linton. Additionally, she says that Hareton is the last of the Earnshaws, a very old... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...alone. He tells Nelly that he and Catherine had been at Thrushcross Grange, spying on Edgar and Isabella Linton. Heathcliff was impressed by their house, but he thought the Linton children... (full context)
Chapter 7
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..."like the other servants." Catherine kisses Heathcliff hello, but teases that he's dirty compared to Edgar. Heathcliff walks out, growling that he'll be as dirty as he likes. (full context)
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Edgar and Isabella come to Wuthering Heights for Christmas. Heathcliff allows Nelly to make him presentable,... (full context)
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Catherine, though, thinks that both Edgar and Hindley mistreated Heathcliff, and after dinner she slips away from the others to visit... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...and instead plans to spend the day with Catherine. But Catherine admits that she's invited Edgar and Isabella to come visit. Heathcliff comments on how much time Catherine has been spending... (full context)
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Catherine then tells Nelly to leave the room, since she wants to be alone with Edgar. Nelly refuses—Hindley had told her to chaperone Catherine. Furious, Catherine slaps and pinches Nelly, and... (full context)
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Nelly leaves Catherine and Edgar alone. When she does later enter to warn them that Hindley has come home, drunk... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...to Nelly in the kitchen. As Heathcliff listens, she tells Nelly that she has accepted Edgar's proposal of marriage, yet isn't sure she should have. Catherine describes a dream in which... (full context)
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...and ashamed, Heathcliff leaves, and therefore doesn't hear Catherine say that, though she must marry Edgar, she loves Heathcliff more than anything and that nothing could interfere in their relationship, not... (full context)
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Three years later, Heathcliff has still not returned, and Edgar and Catherine get married. Nelly leaves Hareton with Hindley and Joseph at Wuthering Heights and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Then one evening Heathcliff appears at the Grange. Catherine is almost frantic with excitement. Edgar is less pleased. He suggests they receive Heathcliff in the kitchen, but Catherine insists that... (full context)
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As Edgar, Heathcliff, and Catherine talk, Heathcliff says that he returned hoping only to catch a glimpse... (full context)
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...her that she couldn't sleep from excitement. She says that she had praised Heathcliff to Edgar, but that Edgar had claimed to feel sick and even cried. Nelly advises Catherine to... (full context)
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...rushes from the room. Heathcliff expresses disdain for Isabella, but notes that Isabella must be Edgar's heir. Nelly thinks Heathcliff is plotting something. (full context)
Chapter 11
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...Catherine confronts Heathcliff in the kitchen about his feelings for Isabella. She offers to convince Edgar to allow the marriage if Heathcliff truly loves Isabella. But Heathcliff answers that Catherine wronged... (full context)
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Informed of the confrontation by Nelly, Edgar rushes in and orders Heathcliff to leave. Heathcliff refuses. Edgar moves to get the servants... (full context)
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Once Heathcliff is gone, Edgar furiously demands that Catherine choose between him and Heathcliff. Catherine refuses to talk to him,... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...Nelly to give her food. Catherine believes that she is dying, and is distraught that Edgar has buried himself in his books instead of coming to her. (full context)
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Edgar arrives and is appalled by Catherine's weak and frenzied condition. Nelly goes to get a... (full context)
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That same night, Isabella runs off with Heathcliff. Edgar, furious, refuses to attempt to get Isabella to come back. Instead he says that Isabella... (full context)
Chapter 13
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For two months, Edgar nurses Catherine, and though she improves somewhat, she never fully recovers her health. During that... (full context)
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Six weeks after she ran away with and married Heathcliff, Isabella writes to Edgar, begging for forgiveness. Edgar doesn't answer the letter. (full context)
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...her experience has been awful. Heathcliff has told her that since he can't get to Edgar to punish him for Catherine's illness, he'll take it out on Isabella instead. Hindley, Hareton,... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Nelly goes to visit Wuthering Heights. Edgar, however, refuses Nelly's request to send with her a token of forgiveness to Isabella. (full context)
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...condition and then asks Nelly to help him see her, adding that were he in Edgar's place he would never stop Catherine from seeing someone she wanted to see. (full context)
Chapter 15
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When Edgar goes to church four days later, Nelly delivers Heathcliff's letter to Catherine, who is so... (full context)
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Just then Edgar arrives home from church. Heathcliff gets up to leave, but Catherine begs him to stay... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Edgar keeps watch over Catherine's body, day and night, while Heathcliff stays out in the garden... (full context)
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After Heathcliff leaves, Nelly discovers that Heathcliff has replaced a lock of Edgar's hair that Catherine kept in her locket with his own hair. Nelly finds Edgar's lock... (full context)
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The nearby villagers are surprised when Edgar doesn't bury Catherine in the Linton tomb, but instead by a wall in the corner... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...days after the funeral, Isabella comes to Thrushcross Grange at a time when she knows Edgar will be asleep in his room. Disheveled and laughing hysterically, Isabella tells Nelly, who is... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Cathy grows into a beautiful, smart, inquisitive, and willful thirteen-year-old. Edgar doesn't allow her to leave Thrushcross Grange unattended however, so she is entirely unaware of... (full context)
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Soon after, though, Edgar learns that Isabella is dying and rushes off to London to bring Linton back to... (full context)
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...cousin, who is the son of a gentleman, from London. Unhappy that the news of Edgar's trip to get Linton has been made public, Nelly hushes Cathy by saying that a... (full context)
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...and Cathy leave. On the trip back to the Grange, Cathy agrees not to tell Edgar about her trip to Wuthering Heights, since the news might anger Edgar so much that... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Edgar and Linton arrive at the Grange. Linton resembles Edgar, but is weak and whiny. Cathy... (full context)
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Edgar tells Nelly that he believes that if Linton is allowed to stay at Thrushcross Grange,... (full context)
Chapter 21
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The next day, Cathy confronts Edgar about why he has kept her relatives at Wuthering Heights a secret from her. Edgar... (full context)
Chapter 22
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That winter, Edgar falls ill and Nelly becomes Cathy's main companion. One day, as the two walk in... (full context)
Chapter 24
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As soon as Cathy finishes her story, Nelly goes to Edgar and tells him everything. Edgar forbids Cathy from ever again visiting Linton at Wuthering Heights,... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...also does not visit the Grange because he's too weak to make the trip. Eventually Edgar decides that his daughter's happiness is most important and he says that if she wishes... (full context)
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As he falls further into illness, Edgar agrees to let Cathy visit Linton, though he asks that she meet him not at... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Edgar's health continues to fail over the following week. Though she doesn't want to leave her... (full context)
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As they talk, Heathcliff arrives. He asks Nelly that Edgar's health, and also tells her privately that he worries that Linton will die before Edgar... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...and Cathy are married. Then he exults that he owns all of Cathy's inheritance, since Edgar is close to death. (full context)
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Nelly rushes from Wuthering Heights back to Thrushcross Grange. She tells the dying Edgar that Cathy is safe and will soon be back at the Grange. She then sends... (full context)
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...actually Cathy who has escaped Wuthering Heights with the help of Linton. Cathy goes to Edgar and spends a few moments with him before he dies. Edgar dies content, believing that... (full context)
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...the house, and dismisses all of the servants but Nelly. He also tries to have Edgar buried in the chapel, but Nelly intervenes, knowing that Edgar's states that he wanted to... (full context)
Chapter 29
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After Edgar's funeral, Heathcliff comes to the Grange to bring Cathy back to Wuthering Heights. He says... (full context)
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...stay with Cathy. Heathcliff doesn't answer, instead telling Nelly that while the sexton was digging Edgar's grave, Heathcliff bribed the man to dig up Catherine's grave and remove the wall of... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...leaves Wuthering Heights and walks through the moors to the churchyard where Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar are buried. He writes that though the local villagers say that they have seen Heathcliff's... (full context)