Pullman portrays life after death very differently from the Christian concept of heaven : In the third book, the afterlife plays out in a bleak underworld , similar to the Greek vision of the afterlife, wherein harpies torment people until Lyra and Will descend into the land of the dead. At their intercession, the harpies agree to stop tormenting the dead souls, and instead receive the true stories of the dead in exchange for leading them again to the upper world. When the dead souls emerge, they dissolve into atoms and merge with the environment.
In this passage from Chapter XXXIII, Heathcliff confesses to Nelly his inner state. What Nelly calls Heathcliff’s “monomania on the subject of his departed idol” has now reached its final stage of development. In the passage in which Heathcliff describes his excavation of Catherine’s grave, the reader gains insight into Heathcliff’s frustration regarding the double nature of all of Catherine’s “memoranda.” While Catherine’s corpse recalls her presence, it fails to substitute fully for it, and thus recalls her absence. Heathcliff’s perception of this doubling comes through in his language. The many signs of Catherine show that “she did exist” but that “I have lost her.” In the end, because his whole being is bound up with Catherine, Heathcliff’s total set of perceptions of the world is permeated by her presence. Consequently, he finds signs of Catherine in the “entire world,” and not just in localized figures such as her daughter or a portrait of Catherine.