Why not have a more gothic ending?

For this Blog Post, I wanted to focus on two parts on the final 2 pages of Wuthering Heights. I was confused about the ending and how it felt a bit underwhelming considering all the trauma and conflict that occurred throughout the novel. On page 336, Bronte gives us a final ghostly image of Heathcliff and presumably Catherine, walking through the moors as Heathcliff looks on. “I was going to the Grange one evening – a dark evening threatening thunder… I encountered a little boy with a sheep and two lambs before him, he was crying terribly, and I supposed the lambs were skittish, and would not be guided” (Bronte 336). Here we get an undetailed description of Heathcliff and a woman in a phantom-like state, which is underwhelming compared to the gothic ghost scene at the window with Lockwood, especially considering this is the closing scene of the book. I expected to have more images of Heathcliff as a ghost as it seemed to me that the final chapters were building to this. One reason for this underwhelming gothic ending might be because of the concluding lines of the story, when Lockwood questions “How anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth” (Bronte 337). Perhaps the reasoning for the limited representation of Heathcliff as a ghost is to uphold this “quiet earth” ending. I suspect that this is Bronte’s way of giving Heathcliff and Catherine a “quiet slumber”, where they can wander the moors together only to be seen by the occasional shepherd. Maybe this quiet ending to the novel is to give Heathcliff a happy ending where he can finally be with Catherine as ghosts in the afterlife. If we had a more exciting and action-packed ending where Heathcliff terrorizes the moors as a ghost, the final quote from Lockwood would feel much more out of place.

2 thoughts on “Why not have a more gothic ending?”

  1. Perhaps Lockwood’s musings here in your quotation are another attempt to box up and rid himself of the unpleasant story that he listened to. In the beginning of the novel, he was convinced that he had seen a ghost, and that was the impetus behind hearing the story. Yet now that he visits the grave, knowing a story of profound, uncharacteristically Victorian violence and treachery, he wants to leave the story buried with the dead people in the graves. I think he is also trying to convince himself in this quote that it is impossible for him to have seen the ghost as an attempt to move on from the terrible tale and return to normalcy.

  2. This brings up really cool ideas! In one sense, many of the story’s characters seem to get their “wants.” Catherine Linton and Hareton escape Heathcliff’s various issues. Lockwood, who cannot handle the overwhelming darkness gets his happiness in departing and somewhat repressing the broader ghostly implications. Even the other deceased characters like Edgar and Hindley would probably be happy to see their children prospering And Heathcliff and Catherine, who earlier expressed desire to eventually escape Heaven, get to wander forever (Bronte 56). But, though everyone somewhat gets their desire, whether this is deserved is still up for debate.

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