Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights is a long and passionate tale about the treacheries of love and heartbreak, mixed with deviousness and insanity - Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte introduction. The whole novel in general is very exciting and thrilling. It is filled with unexpected turns and a beautiful sense of literature. This particular passage refers to Chapter 12. In this chapter, Catherine begins to act mad, thinking she is dying, being afraid of her reflection in mirrors, and speaking aloud to a nonexistent Heathcliff as she did when they were children.
This causes Nelly to bring Edgar up to her room to see Catherine’s condition. This prose is when Edgar comes up to Catherine’s room, and inquires Catherine about Heathcliff, which stirs up an outburst from Catherine. In result, Edgar Linton becomes angry at Ellen (Nelly) for not telling him the situation with Catherine. When Catherine starts to screech at Nelly, Edgar becomes more worried and sends Nelly to fetch the doctor. As Nelly is leaving the house, she spots Isabella’s dog hanging by a handkerchief on the gate, almost dead.
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Suddenly Nelly catches a horse galloping away into the distance. At the time, she doesn’t think much of it, but later in the story she discovers it was Heathcliff and Isabella, running away to elope. This is where the prose passage ends. However, the chapter hasn’t ended yet, and Nelly frantically tells Edgar her sightings. Edgar is livid, but stays calm and collected as he disregards the incident and his sibling in the process, whom he had warned about Heathcliff. Edgar refuses to act upon their marriage, and acts cold and unfeeling.
There are many twists and such throughout the book that we discover and realize about people; paragraphs and sentences that give us hints and certain hidden characterizations. However there are three principle findings and generalizations that we can make in this particular passage, all being very significant to the plot of Wuthering Heights. The first generalization we can make based on this prose is first of all that Catherine displays her true dislike for Edgar through her insanity. She tells him that he annoys her constantly and all her feelings for him have vanished.
This is through her quote, “You are one of those things that are ever found when wanted, and when you are wanted, never! (Line 1-2)” By this, we see that Catherine is full of annoyance for Edgar, and she is beginning to reveal her true dislike. “I don’t want you, Edgar: I’m past wanting you (line 12-13)” clearly defines that she was faking her love for Edgar for quite a while now, and that she is still in love with Heathcliff for certain. A second discovery we can make in this passage is about Mr. Linton. As one can see, Cathy clearly doesn’t love him. Even though this truth is thrust up right under his nose, he denies it.
This information has been portrayed by Catherine, Nelly and Heathcliff, but even so, the stubborn Edgar refuses to believe the fact. He tries to blame it on others, such as Nelly. This we can see at Line 18, “‘I desire no further advice from you,’ answered Mr. Linton. ‘You knew your mistress’s nature, and you encouraged me to harass her'”. Through this line, we can observe that Edgar has hurt pride and is trying to avoid humiliation by blaming others for his misfortune. We can also see his ego through his disregard for his sister for running off with his foe.
Lastly, through this passage we notice the beginning of Catherine’s lunacy period. Catherine’s mental illness has begun, and Nelly is forced to run for a doctor. We realize her spark of insanity first of all because Nelly clearly states that “She has been talking nonsense all evening (line 15)”. Then, after a series of conversations between Nelly and Edgar about the information Nelly knows about Heathcliff, Catherine goes mad and tries to pounce on Nelly, saying “Nelly is my hidden enemy. You witch! So you do seek elf-bolts to hurt us! Let me go, and I’ll make her rue! I’ll make her howl a recantation! line 32-34)”.
Catherine’s psychotic fury has taken over her brain, and implies that Nelly is the traitor, although evidently she is not. This passage depicts characterization quite strongly, right from the beginning to the end, particularly from Catherine. In line’s 1-7, because Edgar interrupted a cloud of Catherine’s deep and manic thought by walking in, Catherine tone when she shrieks at Edgar reflects all the anger she felt during her internal conflict a second before. Her outburst portrays a bitter, emotional and cruel side of Catherine that Edgar thought was left behind at Wuthering Heights.
Catherine’s words speak of how she doesn’t belong at Thrushcross Grange, and she wishes she was back at Wuthering Heights. Catherine begins by saying how Edgar always intrudes when he’s not wanted; then she claims that she foresees much conflict between them. Nonetheless, she says, it can’t stop her from her true home, Wuthering Heights; where she belongs. Through lines 1-7, we grasp the image of a carefree, homely place, where Catherine can die peacefully with Heathcliff. This homesickness is the truth behind of all Catherine’s visions and wishes.
Like the tone of lines 1-7, lines 10-14 also display anger towards Edgar. This time, however, Catherine speaks in a harsher way. Previously, Catherine’s tone was accusatory; in this paragraph, Catherine’s speaks to Edgar in a way that a mother would speak to her child: Strictly, authoritatively, and sharply. This speech depicts Catherine’s control over Edgar, and how she has the power in their relationship. Another one of Catherine’s speeches in this passage is at lines 32-34. In this paragraph, Catherine is still portraying anger, though not to Edgar. She has switched her target to Nelly.
The harshness and rage still exists, but it is stronger here. The terminology she uses, and the words she emphasizes make her speech powerful. Firstly, her calling Nelly a traitor is rather mean and severe. Traitor is quite an intense word, especially for someone who has been nothing but faithful. Calling Nelly a “hidden enemy” also seems rash, since the word “enemy” is quite wicked. One of the worst names that Catherine calls Nelly is a “witch”. A Witch is especially harsh, because back in that day witches were considered terribly evil, and burned at the stake because of their malice.
When Catherine exclaims “I’ll make her rue”, she means that she’ll make Nelly sorry for her evilness; she’ll pay for her mischievousness. Through this chapter, we can see Catherine’s disturbed mind and imagination. You can see she has a great deal of emotional layers and has a psychological problem. The way she speaks to Edgar shows that she doesn’t care what he thinks or feels. She seems quite selfish overall, and has a sense of disregard for everyone except herself. Her arrogance and passion takes over the emotion of this passage.
The way she disrespects Edgar shows her unfeeling, spoilt and bratty nature, with her anger, passion and fury coming and leaving as she pleases. Although one may have certain hatred towards Catherine’s selfishness, I feel certain sympathy towards her because of her suffering. Not only that, but also I feel pity for where Catherine’s disposition has lead her onto the wrong path, and her pathetic, dismal ways. This does not erase my disgust for Catherine as well, because her mind is a result of her path. Although Edgar is similar to Catherine in many ways, they have very different lives and minds.
The following paragraphs will focus on his three speeches in the passage. The first of his lines (8-9) are spoken with a tone of desperation and astonishment. You can see that Edgar is shocked to hear that Catherine doesn’t care about him. He seems very hurt and nai??ve. The fact that he is interrupted at line 9 (“Do you love that wretched Heath—-“) shows that Edgar is a pushover and a cowardly, because he is afraid of the truth and is bewildered by Catherine’s words. As I had mentioned before, when Edgar’s pride has been hurt, he usually reacts by being cold and unfeeling. In lines 18-20, Edgar shows just this.
His tone from before, an attempt of desperation and naivety, changes to being a cold, powerful, in control master. This is because when Catherine dismissed him and scolded him, he felt humiliated at having Nelly see this; which provoked his hardness and stand as Nelly’s master, feeling that he wanted Nelly’s impression of him to become stronger. Edgar’s speech before and Edgar’s speech now changes extremes. His first speech showed meekness and hopelessness; his speech now portrays him as cold, harsh and haughty. Line 27, once again shows Edgar as heartless. This is because he degrades Nelly and exerts his power over her.
He is basically implying and reminding her through this short sentence, that he is the master and she is the servant. In comparison to lines 18-20, line 27, Edgar is using more force, and is stricter, and obviously recovering from his humiliation at lines 8-10. Through this whole passage, Edgar’s personality as a weak and patsy character are displayed. The way he lets Catherine walk all over him shows that he doesn’t have a mind of his own and is blinded by love. However, it also shows his care for Catherine. The hoity-toity way he speaks to Nelly, though, makes him seem spoilt and snobbish.
These are only a few of the aspects of Edgar’s personality. The way I feel for Edgar, though, has more sympathy than Catherine. I feel sorry for Edgar because despite how Catherine treats him, he still loyally sticks by her and loves her. It is unfortunate for Edgar that Catherine bosses him around and he doesn’t stand up for himself. However, I am also annoyed at Edgar for not standing up for himself. Nelly’s Characterization is harder to portray than that of Catherine or Edgar. This is because Nelly is the actual narrator of this tale, and it is difficult to understand her emotions and judge her from an objective point of view.
Line 15-18 is when Nelly first speaks in the passage. Her tone is apologetic; she is apologizing to Edgar for Catherine’s behavior and words. She hastily excuses Catherine’s conduct because she doesn’t want Edgar to know Catherine’s thoughts and visions. Nelly knows that things are getting intense between Catherine and Edgar, and she doesn’t want Edgar to be distressed; this is why she hurriedly interrupts before Edgar can reply and start Catherine off raving once more. This line shows Nelly standing up for herself, not tolerating the accusing voice of Edgar when she knows that it wasn’t her fault.
This brings Nelly up to the same status as Edgar, as she doesn’t care for Edgar’s blame. At this point she diminishes the servant-master relationship to a human-human one. Nelly’s thought “I began to defend myself, thinking it too bad to be blamed for another wicked’s waywardness” shows immediate annoyance and objection to being put down (very much unlike Edgar). This portrays her courage and boisterousness; she acts out on what she thinks. The way Bronte has show this is writing down Nelly’s thought before her voice; and writing it as disbelief. Nelly continues her loudness through lines 22-26.
Her tone displays annoyance and no remorse. She speaks as if she was doing Mr. Linton a favor by not telling him the truth about the way Catherine was acting, and makes herself sound like the helpful, innocent one, and Mr. Lockwood the mean, doubting, untrusting man. “But I didn’t know you wished to foster her fierce temper! ” quoted by Nelly shows that all she is doing is beneficial to Mr. Linton, and that she wanted to protect him from Catherine’s temperament. At lines 25-26, Nelly speaks as if she is saying “Well, maybe I should not help you anymore if you’re not grateful about it, you can find out information without my assistance”.
This is quite a strong way of putting things. It’s quite interesting because Nelly seems very clever, using reverse psychology. In lines 28-30, Nelly continues using her reverse psychology on Edgar. “You’d rather hear nothing about it, I suppose, then, Mr. Linton? ” shows that Nelly is trying to make Mr. Linton curious about what she knows. She then later indirectly tells him, saying “Heathcliff has your permission to come a-courting to Miss, and to drop in at every opportunity your absence offers, on purpose to poison the mistress against you? At this point, Nelly has the upper hand, as she knows gossip that Edgar does not. She is being very intelligent in using this style of talking to prove to Edgar her justice. The word ‘poison’ in her sentence shows that she disapproves of Heathcliff and his deviousness. In this passage, Nelly is conveyed as someone who speaks as fairly and neutrally as possible. She shows devotion and faithfulness to her masters/mistresses, but still has a mind of her own. She is not put down by Edgar’s authoritative tone, and shows herself to be independent.
At this point I see Nelly as an intelligent woman with shrewdness and good common sense. She is actually becoming my most favorite character in the story, and I feel proud when Nelly stands up for herself. At the end at the last paragraph, the sound of hooves against the sidewalk leaves the reader in suspense. Even though Nelly disregards it as not something important, the occurrence is like a test to the reader to see if he/she had been paying attention to the little details. The strange incident of Isabella’s dog almost hung off the gate also makes us suspicious; what exactly is going on?
I believe that Emily Bronti?? intended to foreshadow what was about to happen later. All the way through this passage, there is a great deal of hidden meaning in each sentence that is spoken/ narrated. Many things are spoken with a twist and have deep significance. With just a short passage of 49 lines, one can determine and notice so many things about the characters and the stories. Even if I hadn’t read the book, I still would have been able to guess many things about it. The narration itself is filled to the brim with personality, which makes it very interesting to read, and the style and context is genius.