Tuesday, March 22, 2011

my thoughts

"I was amazed, more than ever, to behold the transformation of Heathcliff. He had grown a tall, athletic, well-formed man; beside whom my master seemed quite slender and youth-like. His upright carriage suggested the idea of his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton's; it looked intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation." (pg 118)

Personally, I have really enjoyed this novel so far. I like how the characters are atypical of that of a normal love story, and I like how Heathcliff is not what one would consider a romantic hero. While it is true that sometimes I think he is overly cruel, it is also refreshing to not be able to predict anything he is going to do. The question that I keep asking myself as I read this story is which character should I pity the most. Many would argue that Heathcliff is too cruel to deserve sympathy, but I almost think that he is the one that deserves the most due to his history. If Catherine had not broken his heart at such an early age, he may have turned out completely different. I like to imagine what Heathcliff would have been like if he had been the one to marry Catherine instead, but that is equally difficult to picture. For example, if he had never run away then he probably would not have been motivated to become educated or rich. For reasons like these, I am happy to an extent that he left Wuthering Heights for a short time. Once he became educated and wealthy, Catherine had no grounds left to criticize him for.


Setting ---> Moors
"This is certainly a beautiful country!" (pg 3)

Throughout the novel, I have found the setting to be significant through the repetitive mentioning of the moors. As the book begins, the moors are immediately described as " completely removed from the stir of society" and are viewed as isolated. To me, this resembles Heathcliff's detachment from society and gradual resignation from the world. Even the novel's title is based off the rugged setting of the storyline. "Wuthering", as the narrator explains, is a local adjective used to describe the fierce winds that blow during storms on the moors. Oftentimes, storms or cold weather are mentioned as further evidence of the novel's overall tone of unhappiness. At one point, I noticed that the moors even seemed to match Cathy's emotions during significant moments. After she realized that Heathcliff had run away, she stood outside in "the growling thunder, and the great drops that began to splash around her" didn't affect her as "she remained, calling at intervals, and then listening and then crying outright" for Heathcliff to come back. Here, I thought that the weather obviously correlated with her internal struggle and her desperation for Heathcliff to return home. Just as the moors are wild and unpredictable, so is the character of Catherine.

Figurative Language

"My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being." (page 102)

This was one of my favorite moments in the novel thus far. It is within these few sentences that Catherine explains her feelings for Edgar and Heathcliff, and it is here where the reader is able to understand what she is feeling without having to guess. I found her metaphors to be quite revealing, and understood afterward that what she felt for Heathcliff was true love whereas what she felt for Linton was merely superficial. Heathcliff is like the other half of herself, and she had been inseparable from him throughout her entire life. Honestly, I couldn't comprehend her actually being able to marry someone else when she had such strong feelings for Heathcliff. When it came down to it, Catherine's decision of who to marry was based on entirely different premises. Tempted by wealth and social status, Catherine married Linton because he was rich, handsome, young, and cheerful. Essentially, she married him for all the wrong reasons. At one point she tried to defend her position for Heathcliff's sake, saying that if she were to marry Edgar she could aid Heathcliff is rising from her brother's power. I, on the other hand, saw this as a blatant lie and a weak excuse to do what was easier rather than what was right.

Point of View

"It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself, compared with him." (pg 10)

Something that I found interesting about Wuthering Heights is the perspective in which it is narrated to the reader. It is not told by someone close to Heathcliff, but rather from the third person point of view of Lockwood, who is a tenant of Heathcliff's living on Thrushcross Grange. Lockwood's first impressions and encounters with Heathcliff are told to the audience, but from then on his history is told by another third party observer: Nelly Dean. The structure of the novel is mostly in the form of storytelling, and since it is a story within a story it could be classified as a framestory. Upon beginning the novel, the reader is unaware of how all the characters relate to one another until Nelly's narration explains all of their relationships. Also, Bronte makes it easy to keep track of time passing because she interrupts Nelly's storytelling by entering back into Lockwood's point of view. For instance, when he is dozing off Nelly says:
"But Mr. Lockwood, I forget these tales cannot divert you. I'm annoyed how I should dream of chattering on at such a rate; and your gruel cold, and you nodding for bed!"
This clever interruption keeps the reader in track of how much time is passing and how Lockwood is processing the information being revealed about Heathcliff. It is yet another component to Bronte's novel which enhances its effectiveness.


"He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure, and rather morose. Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of underbred pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort..." (page 6)

Heathcliff, a jaded and unpredictable character, is the protagonist and central focus of Wuthering Heights. Immediately, on the very first page of the book, he is described as a man with "black eyes" that "withdraw suspiciously under their brows", hinting at negative connotations within the first few paragraphs. As the novel progresses, the reader's desire to understand Heathcliff and his motivations grows stronger, but his defiance of being understood grows simultaneously. Initially a harmless orphan rescued from the streets of Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw, I was surprised at his total transformation throughout the first half of the book. He began the novel as a quiet boy who was unaccepted by all except Master Earnshaw, and not long after gained companionship with Catherine. Nelly, the manor's maid, described Heathcliff as "uncomplaining as a lamb; though hardness, not gentleness, made him give little trouble" she explained as she nursed him back to health through an awful bout of the measles. However, it is easy to pinpoint when Heathcliff's character began to change. The moment Edgar Linton entered into Catherine's life, Heathcliff began to distance himself from her. Early on, he viewed Edgar as a rival and even attempted to compete for Catherine's affections. But his true transformation occurred at the moment that Catherine admitted her love for him, saying that the only reason she would not pursue this love was that "it would degrade [her] to marry Heathcliff now". Hearing those words, I am sure that she hurt Heathcliff beyond measure. He left the barn as soon as he heard her say this and disappeared thereafter for three years. Catherine was overcome with grief by his absence, but I'm sure it did not compare to the extent of Heathcliff's grief.