Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Unquiet Slumbers

stevec77

From time to time, the Foxes own up to their personal literary favourites.  Jackie’s is Oscar and Lucinda, Lisa opted – rather endearingly – for Victoria Plum.  Today, it’s Moira’s turn to go public  …

—o—

”Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her nature stood alone.”

So wrote Charlotte Brontë of her sister Emily in her 1850 Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell, thereby proving at a stroke that she knew very little about either men or children – and still less about her sister.  When looking for adjectives to describe Emily Brontë, the very last one you’d reach for would be ‘simple’.

The Biographical Notice is a breathtaking example of Charlotte trying to re-write history.  She was desperate to dispel the accusations of “coarseness” levelled at Emily and Anne, who both wrote novels which were considered totally improper for young women to have penned.   Emily was barely cold in her grave before her sister started trying to create an image of an unworldly woman, hidden from the brutal truths of life.  In her undeniably beautiful, elegiac and now-famous (or possibly infamous)  Preface to Wuthering Heights Charlotte even went so far as to suggest that Emily knew nothing of the realities of the world, sequestered as she was in her gloomy northern parsonage – scarcely aware of what she was doing or what she was creating.  She even tried to claim that her sister had only a tenuous grasp of the facts of life.

All I have to say to that is … Tosh.

It’s a fabrication from beginning to end, as a cursory examination of what we know about Emily’s life reveals.  She may have spent comparatively little time in “the outside world”, but the outside world came to her, through Blackwood’s Magazine, through the newspapers that the family read assiduously (and aloud) and through the villagers who came to the Parsonage bearing racy tales of local life.

Patrick never made any attempt to protect his children from the grim reality of that life. He discussed everything with them – even when they were very young children – encouraging them to think for themselves and form their own opinions. Emily also knew all that was happening in Haworth and Keighley. She absorbed it like a sponge, filed it away and recycled it.  She was, indeed, a very bright and well-read woman – probably the most intelligent of the four siblings who survived to adulthood.  Latterly, she ran the Parsonage and looked after her father single-handed, teaching herself German from a textbook propped up on the kitchen table … and she left us a novel which is quite unlike any other in world literature.

Much imitated, never bettered, Wuthering Heights stands alone.

It doesn’t even pretend to be realistic – although parts of it are very real -  particularly the physical descriptions of the house and moors and the details of domestic routine – but no teenagers ever spoke the way Catherine and Heathcliff do (and don’t forget how young the central protagonists are – Catherine is 15 when Heathcliff runs away into the storm (he is 16).  She’s just 19 when she dies). Emily wasn’t interested in creating sympathetic characters, either.  She didn’t care whether her readers liked her characters or not and made no attempt to explain or excuse their actions – which is what stuck so thoroughly in the craw of Victorian society.  People in novels who did bad things were supposed to come to a bad end.  Catherine certainly did, but Heathcliff?  Not really.

Wuthering Heights is frequently described as a gothic romance – usually by impressionable young women and people who have seen one of the many cinematic versions but never actually read the book;  but Heathcliff is no romantic lead, nor was he surely ever intended as one by his creator.  It’s a mistake to think of Wuthering Heights in those terms – and that’s probably where most of the people who profess to hate the novel come unstuck.  They expect one thing and get another.

Heathcliff is a one-off, a force of nature and a truly unsettling creation.  Only Catherine, who is mentally unstable herself, could possibly cling to him as a soulmate.  Even after her death, she continues to dominate both Heathcliff and the story.  She is there in the background all the time and  finally it’s Catherine – either a real or imagined ghostly presence – who drives Heathcliff to his exhausted death – as per his own extraordinary request:

And I pray one prayer — I repeat it till my tongue stiffens — Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you — haunt me, then! The murdered DO haunt their murderers, I believe.  I know that ghosts HAVE wandered on earth. Be with me always — take any form–drive me mad! only DO not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!

Consider these two equally well-known quotes – the first from Catherine, the second from Heathcliff, (following immediately on after the last quote), on the death of Catherine:

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning or frost from fire … Nelly, I AM Heathcliff …
and

I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!

That’s not love – that’s obsession.  And that – for me – is what Wuthering Heights is really about – the destructive power of obsession, destroying not only those in its grip, but also the people around them – who are sucked into the vortex.

Emily was a superb poet and it shows again and again in Wuthering Heights.  It’s been described as a poem in novel form. There’s hardly a spare word in it anywhere …  but if you pull the bones of the actual story out of the novel, it’s a totally ludicrous tale.  It falls apart.  It can’t stand by itself as a straight narrative.  What holds it together is the way it’s written -  Nelly Dean, the busybody narrator,  keeps us all grounded and Emily’s genius keeps us mesmerized.

The second half of the novel – often considered as inferior to the first half by many commentators – in fact balances out the book perfectly.   Heathcliff has total vengeance, his sole raison d’être for so many years, within his grasp – but at the last moment, he simply loses the will to follow through.  The generational story comes full circle.  We begin and end with a Catherine Earnshaw and the house in the possession of the family to whom it historically and morally belongs.

There is little evidence of  a writer not in full command of her craft.

Almost uniquely for a Victorian novel, it has no authorial voice.  She simply wrote the story, laid out the facts and left her readers to make up their own minds about virtually everything, including whether or not those famous sleepers at the end are actually sleeping quietly:

I lingered round them, under that benign sky;  watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

Don’t forget who utters those final, beautiful words:   it’s the idiot Lockwood – the comic relief – who throughout the book has been completely wrong about everything else …

—o—

The superbly atmospheric photograph of Top Withens is by  stevec77 on Flickr, reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence.

About Moira

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20 comments on “Unquiet Slumbers

  1. Sam Ruddock
    May 8, 2009

    What a beautiful review and persuasive argument. Of the Bronte’s I have only read Jane Eyre (and loved it), but I think I will have to try out Wuthering Heights very soon.

  2. Hilary
    May 8, 2009

    Thank you, Moira, for donning your kevlar vest and writing this piece on Wuthering Heights, the novel that is not a love story. It was only when I allowed myself to think this about it that I truly began to appreciate it. Now I love it in a warped sort of way for being utterly unique, and can tolerate Heathcliff as a study in psychopathology.

    This is an excellent review, written from depths of love and knowledge. Emily Bronte certainly deserves to be defended from the world that gets her wrong, and gets her novel wrong (to the extent of thinking that the second half of it is a mistake).

  3. annebrooke
    May 8, 2009

    It’s so wonderful. Wuthering Heights is one of my absolute favourites – lovely to revisit it once more. Thank you!

    Axxx

  4. rosyb
    May 8, 2009

    Moira, I agree that it can’t be seen as a conventional love story. But I don’t think it’s not about love at all. And I think all the unrequited stuff is what gets everyone going after all (cue Twilight.)

    But I always saw it as a rage against the BORINGNESS of the rest of the STUFFY AWFUL SNOBBISH society they found themselves in. Lockwood and Nellie are both so stupid, stuffy, idiotic and judgemental. Cathy is locked by being a woman. Heathcliff is out because he’s a gypsy. They are both wild characters who hate the roles proscribed for them by society and who enjoyed the freedom of nature and childhood. And as adults there is no place for them and they can’t be contained within the dull confines expected of them.

    I always think people who go on about being irritated or “not liking” Cathy and Heathcliff totally miss the point. Of all of them I would say Cathy is far the most dislikable – and yet she is the main protagonist in a way as most of the choices are hers. Heathcliff is positively sympathetic by contrast – we are given a context of abuse and neglect and rejection to explain his bitternesses and subsequent actions. It’s never really explained why Cathy is such a pouting petulant pain in the arse. But she is the bridge between the societal world and the world of nature. I always see it in terms of Linton representing society, status and respectability, Heathcliff representing nature and freedom and Cathy as the woman who has to give up one for the other. She believes she must choose status and respectability and hence goes against her own nature. Therefore she dies. Da da.

    In all of this I see it as the opposite of Austin who accepts the realities of women’s situations and views them with an ironic dispassionate eye and finds some workable compromises for her heroines. Or, at least, she finds compromises for the friends of her heroines and gives the mc a doze of good luck at the end to give them true love plus a convenient annual income. For me, this is an unbelievable as WH really. At least WH doesn’t pretend to be realistic.

    So I see it as a howl of rage against the dull roles proscribed for – particularly women – and a fierce demonstration of the love of nature and wildness and everything that is not society.

    —–

    (I would add that all the “good” characters in WH are awful and I think we are supposed to see them that way: Linton, Isabella, Lockwood, Nelly. All of them are weak and vain and self-interested and gossiping and jealous and small and petty and stuffy. You almost punch the air every time one of them receives a kick in the teeth. I think the book encourages this and it is very cruel. But I don’t believe the author had much time for these pathetic characters and in this it reminds me of some modern films where the “goodies” are presented as grotesques or so banal you can’t wait for them to be bumped off. It is fiction after all. )

  5. Trilby
    May 8, 2009

    Great review, Moira (and really interesting feedback, Rosy) – thanks!

  6. Jackie
    May 8, 2009

    Rosy, I don’t think Nellie is stupid, she has great insight into their personalities & even understands why they are acting that way, but she gets a bit too much voyueristic thrill out of all that happens. And Isabella is the soul of naivete, she romanticizes Heathcliff so blindly that she has absolutely no clue as to what she’s getting herself into with him. She could symbolize Heathcliff’s own longing for Cathy, back when it was pure & hadn’t become bitter.
    While I see what you mean about Heathcliff being ‘nature’, I’ve seen him more as the very essence of obsession:that single minded focus that can erupt into bitterness when roadblocks are thrown.
    This was an excellent post, Moira & I knew it would be good. The distillation of the story and the rebuttal to the revised reputation of Emily Bronte was expertly done & your high regard for the book shines through in a most illuminating way. Well done!

  7. Jackie
    May 8, 2009

    Forgot to say what a perfect photo that is for the post. Wow!

  8. rosyb
    May 8, 2009

    You’re right, Jackie. But she isn’t that sympathetic – Nellie – is she? Despite her “normality”. The normal characters are held at a critical remove I always think.

    I don’t see WH to be about obsession if what you mean is that there is some kind of message like “now don’t get too obsessed, people, or you too could become bitter and twisted like old Heathcliff here.”

    Over and over again Heathcliff is associated with nature. His name. References to his being like the moor, like rock. Cathy describes her attraction for Linton as quite superficial and about charm and society and money and pretty dresses and Heathcliff like nothing that is charming but that is ESSENTIAL. The rock that lies underneath. He is her. Her nature. Her character. Her essence. (And remember he is totally associated with her childhood where she runs on the moor, where she is wild and bad and disobedient and dirty and muddy. It is not all that mooning about on the moor love-stuff that the films give you. It is when they are teenagers that they start to be separated by class, by education, by Heathcliff’s neglect and outcast state, and by Cathy’s wish to be admired in polite society)

    It is romantic: but more in a grand Romantics (ego knocking about in the wilderness, standing on a precipice) sort of way. But I don’t think it’s about empty obsession at all. And I also don’t think that the relationship between them is that criticised either. After all, they never actually get it together. I don’t believe Bronte is saying hey, if Cathy just settled down with Linton and Heathcliff stopped being so obsessional – everything would be ok. She is saying (in my view) that Cathy denied her true nature through vanity and obsession with money and status. The fall-out affected everyone and noone could be happy until the wrong was readjusted. And in the next generation Cathy and Heathcliff are represented by their ancestors who DO get it together and she educates him (remember Heathcliff was a gypsy denied education and hence Cathy saw him as beneath her) and who carry the traits of all the former people in the book.

    Of course noone actually gives a shit about Cathy2 and Hareton (Heathcliff2) but there you go. I think what the author manages to say and what she imagined or planned to say maybe different. She obviously came up with a schema but it doesn’t quite come off because the two monstrous egos of Catherine and Heathcliff dominate everything to such an extent that the reader doesn’t care that much after they are gone.

    I think the total freedom, selfishness and egotism is mightily attractive to teenagers too when you ARE fighting everything. But I do wonder if, in the past, this sense might be magnetised as a woman with fewer opportunities…

    _______

    added: thinking about it, it IS about obsession too. It’s about all these things, isn’t it? I suppose I am just trying to point out that it can be so easily made into “just” a romance…when actually the relationship – in my view – stands for something more and is more interesting that just a personal love story…

  9. Jackie
    May 9, 2009

    Oh I agree Heathcliff is nature, as you say, there’s too much mention of it, right down to his name. And Nellie is annoying, she is a busybody, but I don’t think she’s stupid. A lot of times you can almost hear her tsk-ing.Cathy2 & Hareton, I sometimes feel is a bit incestuous, though I think they symbolize a fresh start, a do-over.
    To be honest, I don’t think there IS a message to the novel. As Moira said, there’s no moral or comeuppance, which is unusual for a Victorian novel. It’s actually rather Zen like, it just IS. Which I think is part of it’s appeal for those of us who like it, it defies commonality.
    Hope everyone has seen the Ralph Fiennes version. tee hee.

  10. Lisa
    May 10, 2009

    Wonderful piece and discussion, Moira. But oh, oh, oh, I didn’t like W.H. at all, I’m afraid. Mind you, I read it when I was about 11, so I’m sure a lot of the meaning and probably all of the subtleties were lost on me but damn, I thought they were the most annoying bunch of morons to have ever reared their heads in literature. I just didn’t ‘get’ what all the fuss was about and thought Heathcliff was much better as a cartoon cat. . .

    I even managed to get through a literature degree without properly revisiting Wuthering Heights – the memory of that first deep irritation was evidently still strong in me.

    BUT, having lived another seventeen years since that first reading of W.H. perhaps I’d now find more in it to enjoy.

    Heck, I’m so intrigued by this discussion and all the comments that I might just go get the dreaded book off the shelf (first blowing off the very thick layer of dust around it).

    Will report back as and when.

  11. Moira
    May 10, 2009

    Lisa … I await your reconsidered opinion with interest. :)

    I’m with Jackie on this one though … I’m not remotely convinced that Emily Bronte meant Wuthering Heights to be ‘about’ anything. Unlike dear gobby Charlotte, she didn’t write shedloads of letters and pour out her heart to bosom buddies, so we can’t be absolutely certain, but she doesn’t seem to have had any particular concerns about the plight of women in Victorian society. She appears to have been a dispassionate observer and recorder of human behaviour, with a sort of detached, anthropological interest in her fellow man. As the daughter of the local clergyman, living in genteel poverty, she stood outside society anyway … neither working class nor gentry … she was ideally positioned to watch, record and consider.

    And I didn’t say it was about empty obsession. Obsession with one person can be all-consuming and fill your entire life. Once Catherine was dead, Heathcliff’s soul reason for living was revenge – but it was still powered by his obsession with her.

    There is love in the book, but I don’t think it’s the central theme. Edgar loves Catherine. Hareton loves Cathy. Hindley loves Frances.

    Edgar isn’t a weak character at all. If you took him out of Wuthering Heights and put him in a Jane Austen novel for instance, he’d be a rather admirable man … it’s only in comparison with Heathcliff and Catherine that he seems feeble and wishy-washy.

    And poor Nelly Dean. She’s a nosey busybody but she’s basically decent and good-hearted – and the ONLY person who tried to save Heathcliff from himself. She’s the still centre of the novel – the pivot around which the whole book turns.

  12. rosyb
    May 10, 2009

    “I’m not remotely convinced that Emily Bronte meant Wuthering Heights to be ‘about’ anything. Unlike dear gobby Charlotte, she didn’t write shedloads of letters and pour out her heart to bosom buddies, so we can’t be absolutely certain, but she doesn’t seem to have had any particular concerns about the plight of women in Victorian society.”

    I’m not saying that at all. And I don’t think she is trying to do a Hardy by any means. But she was a woman herself with certain opportunities – and certain limits to those opportunities. And she comes across as very passionate about the moors and the wild places where she lived.

    I’m not convinced about the detachment either. WH is wonderfully over the top and enjoys being so. And it is known that EB had her imaginary world for a long time that she was quite obsessive about – with characters who had similarities to Cathy and Heathcliff, so I’m not sure it is a cold anthropological dissection of those in her local parish so much as a huge imaginative escape, set in the world of her local parish…It is BIG. BIGGER than real life. Again, another reason it is a great teenage book when you are howling against the dullness of everything yourself.

    A book can say things without the author having some overt do-goody moral message. The Edgar/Heathcliff society/nature symbolic dichotomy is referred to quite overtly though, I believe. Not least by Cathy herself. And the idea of being the same and of Heathcliff being her essential self is referred to time and time again. But in quite a hard way to do with rock and nothing nice. Not in a traditionally “romantic” way. I think the idea of their being “the same person” is also something that makes WH interesting. The traditional “romance” has a lot of “otherness”, whereas Cathy is easily as cruel and rough as Heathcliff when she wants to be. And she doesn’t remotely tame him – (looking at this in relation to the romantic tropes that followed).

    I think Emily Bronte was trying to write a schematic novel that made a certain sense – which is why we have the union of Cathy2/Hareton at the end. But I don’t think the novel SAYS what she is intending it too according to the meaning implied by this schema.

    And I disagree about Nelly. I think the book undermines Nelly on a number of occasions and we are asked to question her and it is not really clear how sympathetic she is at all. She is the voice of normality of course. It is the necessary convention with huge characters to have to have a normal voice to interpret the mad wild characters.

    And I also agree about Linton. But that is my point – that Linton would be at home in an Austen novel. But Bronte is like a bit howl against Austen – rejecting such sensible decorous ways of being and what would be seen as sensible and charming ways of being in Austen are stuffy, snobbish and nothingy in Bronte. Very escapist.

    Err..and going full-throttle here, I have to disagree about the author in total control and the fact there is not a spare word. There are some terribly OTT parts of WH in a good way…and a few in a bad way. And there are some dreadful bits – particularly featuring Old Joseph. And some parts feel like melodrama big time. But it is such total melodrama – goes for it so totally – and the characters so complicated and difficult to grasp – forever slipping through your fingers (why does Heathcliff torment Isabella? Why does Isabella allow herself to be tormented and allow him to hang her dog? Why does Cathy choose Linton when she doesn’t respect him? Why does she too use Isabella and throw her in Heathcliff’s way?) But at the same time doesn’t Bronte get right to the heart of power play in relationships? Particularly those with sexual overtones (or more.)

    But Moira, I am now interested to know WHY this is one of your favourite books if you don’t see any of these themes or ideas going on? :)

  13. Jackie
    May 11, 2009

    I don’t think I would call WH “over the top”, doesn’t that usually indicate a certain amount of exaggeration? It’s more that it goes to extremes, which is something different.

  14. rosyb
    May 11, 2009

    Goodness me. I mean I love WH, don’t get me wrong. But I think it is incredibly over the top. I mean just take that scene with Heathcliff endlessly trying to stab Hinchley’s hand through the window. That scene has always made me laugh out loud. It feels like a very OTT gothic type book but rooted in such extremity of weather and setting and offset by that certain dourness of the people and environment that somehow – to me – it seems more like an expression of that and less fantastical. But realism it aint. Not to me, anyhow. To really go with someone bashing their head against a tree and howling and cursing, growling over a corpse gnashing their teeth like a dog…well you kind of have to just let go and go with it.

    Anyhow I should point out that WH is one of my favourite books too which is why I’m enjoying yattering about it so much here. But I think you have to own up to these things about it and I can totally see that if you take it very literally and realistically that people can end up hating it and not understanding what’s good about it at all.

    I will shut up in a minute – but the other thing I was thinking about was the revenge and the denegration of Heathcliff. If the societal theme is not important/relevant why does Bronte go to so much trouble to introduce Heathcliff as a parentless gypsy outcast who is adopted into a home and then have him so thoroughly abused by Hindley during his teenage years, and denied all privilege and education. It is these elements that separate him and Cathy in the end. The fact that Heathcliff comes back having “made it” somehow and acquired an education and money and respectability is what then makes him powerful and dangerous and he uses it against everyone who abused him. As far as he is concerned, Cathy and Nelly I think are the only ones who didn’t abuse him and treated him like an individual.

    These themes of society and class and rejection and neglect and abuse are pretty key in WH and they are deliberately mirrored by Hareton who is also abused (by Heathcliff) and denied the simplest education so he cannot be “respectable”. I cannot believe Bronte didn’t have something in mind with all of this. All those characters sneer at and reject him: whether that be Hindley, or Linton – in his milder more patronising way. Hindley completely brutalises and humiliates him. Nelly, also, feels a certain sympathy with Heathcliff for this. Heathcliff enacts a terrible revenge – but I don’t think you can discount the absolutely awful violence and harshness existing in the setting – continual beatings and humiliations metered out by many of the characters. Heathcliff is not a baddy amongst goodies. Hindley must be the most awful character of the work and without one single redeeming feature.

    Right. Shutting up now. :)

  15. Kirsty
    May 11, 2009

    Oh how I adore Wuthering Heights! And what a great piece Moira; very persuasive. I’ve always thought of it as an obsessive love story, so perhaps I am the ‘third way’ (!). The bit that always sticks in my mind is when Heathcliff asks for the coffins to have removable sides so that as they decompose their very bodies can mingle into one. Surely the very pinnacle of obsession?

  16. Jackie
    May 12, 2009

    But Rosy, had societal differences been the reason, don’t you think Emily would’ve made Heathcliff more sympathetic? In books where that IS the intent, say “Les Miserables” or one of Dickens’s stories, the impoverished person is someone very likable. Heathcliff would seem to be the opposite of that.

  17. Moira
    May 12, 2009

    “If the societal theme is not important/relevant why does Bronte go to so much trouble to introduce Heathcliff as a parentless gypsy outcast who is adopted into a home and then have him so thoroughly abused by Hindley during his teenage years, and denied all privilege and education.”

    Well, I’d say that she just thought it would all make a rattling good story … I can almost hear her saying to herself, “Now … if I wanted to make somebody completely psychotic, how would I go about it?”

    Emily had very little time for the human race. Her poetry tells you that. She didn’t reckon much on God, either. She neither taught at nor attended Sunday School – and she didn’t attend church either – an amazing thing then for the daughter of the local clergyman. She liked her own company, the moors, and her imaginary worlds and characters .

    As you rightly point out Rosy … Emily honed her craft penning the Gondal saga which, unfortunately (and probably courtesy of bloody Charlotte), we don’t have. We can piece a lot of Gondal together and from that we know that Our Em enjoyed a nice bit of wildly improbable Gothic as much as the next person. WH was a natural progression on from Gondal.

    The book IS, of course, wildly OTT plot-wise, but construction-wise, it’s very controlled indeed. For instance, you can date all of the major plot developments, sometimes down to the actual day – now that takes some doing in a novel.

    I always think of Catherine and Heathcliff as being like wild animals. They’re more a force of nature than real people and when they meet civilization head-on, disaster is inevitable. Catherine’s description of her love for Edgar Linton as being like the foliage in the woods – time will change it as winter changes the trees – is actually a very good description of real love and how it develops. The eternal rocks beneath stuff is NOT love. It’s mutually assured destruction.

    Interestingly, there’s evidence that WH was originally much shorter than the book we know today … possibly ending with the death of Catherine, the haunting of Heathcliff and then his death. You can – in effect – lift the whole second generation story out and still leave a complete narrative behind. It’s not very jolly, but it’s complete.

    It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a publisher suggested to her that the novel as it stood was a bit lacking in redemption and hope and whatnot, and how about a sort of happy ending to try and make it saleable?

    You ask why I love WH so much, when I so resolutely refuse to see it the way others do. Well, that’s easy. I love that corner of the world – where Lancashire and West Yorkshire (the West Riding as was) meet – and EB captured the country and the inhabitants so well – just as Ted Hughes did. With the possible exception of Lorna Doone I can’t think of one single other novel that is so deeply rooted in its location, to the extent that if you transplanted it anywhere else, it wouldn’t work half so well. And I’m fascinated by Emily herself, of course … we anti-social curmudgeons must stick together tha knaws …

  18. Rahler
    October 8, 2010

    Why does everyone think that Heathcliff is the villain of the piece? It’s obvious that the true antagonist is Nelly Dean. It was her manipulative plotting, and her twisting of Heathcliff’s mind in his youth, that made him the way he is.

  19. Helen gater
    March 14, 2012

    I love withering heights so much, it has become an obsession! I consider Nellie to be the neutral, she allows the reader to sit on the fence and consider objectively each character’s personality, their purpose in terms of the plot. Absolutely each character communicates a vital message about human behavior, the forces of nature, human psychology, sociology and so much more. I have read Wuthering Heights 3 times now and am deliciously resisting reaching for it for my next read. I savor each word, I adore the colloquialisms. As for the ‘second part’ of the novel, I wonder if Emily was offering the reader the option to fantasize the outcome of Cathy and Heathcliff’s relationship in an ideal world – possibly similar to the first ending of The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I guess Lockwood represents a reader that really doesn’t get emily’s message/perspectives – or does he give the reader permission to take what s/he want’s from this wonderful work of art! Helen g

  20. Pingback: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, or: Surviving “A Perfect Misanthropist’s Heaven” | Iris on Books

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