Heathcliff Among The Snow: The circumstances around his death and how it relates to Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper”

When I was reading the passage, some of the imagery Emily used to describe Heathcliff reminded me of the text of William Blake’s poem “The Chimney Sweeper”. One moment that specifically stood out to me was when Bronte described a conversation between Nelly and Heathcliff in Chapter 33 during his impending illness. Nelly asked Heathcliff if he was afraid to death, to which he responded, “With my hard constitution and temperate mode of living, and unperilous occupations, I ought to, and probably shall, remain above ground till there is scarcely a black hair on my head” (Paragraph 53). Here, Bronte is using Heathcliff’s black hair as an indication of youth. When Heathcliff does not have black hair on his head, he will be an old man. However, contrary to Heathcliff’s claims that he will die an old man with gray hair, he dies of starvation at mid life. The Chimney Sweeper mirrors this with the quote, “A little black thing among the snow: Crying weep, weep, in notes of woe!” In the days before Heathcliff’s death, he is distraught over the relationship between Hareton and Cathy. He dies in his bedroom, following his pleas to be with Catherine. Nature, specifically wind, enters the room when his window is open.  

Furthermore, the line “Because I am happy & dance & sing / they think they have done me no injury” can be connected to Heathcliff’s happiness toward being reconnected with Catherine. When he dies, Nelly even notes that he “seemed to smile” (Paragraph 64). When Heathcliff dies, he dies without redemption, and barely anyone is at his funeral because they all see him as the one at fault. This can be seen in the poem’s quote, “They think they have done me no injury” (Paragraph 10). Heathcliff, once a child servant, dies at a young age similarly to the main character in the poem, and no one seems to give him their attention.

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