The intense horror of my nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in—let me in!’…As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, ‘Let me in!’
Mr. Lockwood describes a supernatural event he experienced while spending a night at Wuthering Heights. Catherine haunts him, much like she haunts Heathcliff. Mr. Lockwood’s sensing of the mystery and despair of Wuthering Heights represents the reader in this early scene of the story. His tale uses supernatural elements to convey the psychological suffering that Heathcliff experiences through his loss of Catherine. Through these details, Mr. Lockwood and the reader immediately recognize the centrality of the Catherine and Heathcliff story.
‘I muttered, “I wish they may shovel in the earth over us both!” and I wrenched at it more desperately still. There was another sigh, close at my ear. I appeared to feel the warm breath of it displacing the sleet-laden wind. I knew no living thing in flesh and blood was by; but, as certainly as you perceive the approach to some substantial body in the dark, though it cannot be discerned, so certainly I felt that Cathy was there: not under me, but on the earth.’
Heathcliff recounts a ghostly encounter with Catherine’s spirit. The day following Edgar Linton’s death, Heathcliff convinced the sexton to remove Catherine’s coffin lid and then experienced a heightened perception of Catherine’s presence and physical evidence of her visitation with the cold wind turning warm. His account evidences his strong belief in ghosts, confirmed in his mind by feeling Catherine’s breath and sensing her presence. This supernatural element reflects the gothic element of the story and reveals the psychological “haunting” of Heathcliff.
But the country folks, if you ask them, would swear on the Bible that he
walks: there are those who speak to having met him near the church, and on the moor, and even within this house. Idle tales, you’ll say, and so say I . . . Yet, still, I don’t like being out in the dark now; and I don’t like being left by myself in this grim house: I cannot help it; I shall be glad when they leave it, and shift to the Grange.
Nelly describes to Mr. Lockwood how area people strongly believe that Heathcliff haunts the moors and Wuthering Heights. She also explains how even she has experienced supernatural elements regarding Heathcliff and no longer likes being alone. These supernatural elements and beliefs represent a theme in the novel and speak to Heathcliff’s character and the haunting qualities of his life and love for Catherine.