Friday, July 22, 2016

Emily Brontë — Wuthering Heights, July 1, 2016


Wuthering Heights, first Edition 1847

Reading of Wuthering Heights, July 1, 2016
Present: Thommo, Sunil, Shoba, Kavita, Saras, Priya, Joe (remote by Dropbox), Talitha (remote by Whatsapp)
Absent: Zakia, Ammu, KumKum (away abroad), Gopa (away to Bengaluru), Pamela (sick with redeye), Preeti
Guest: Shalini Dominic

This account of the Wuthering Heights reading is offered by Priya, our faithful recorder, on behalf of fellow members of KRG. She confesses that KRG is close to her heart, but she found it difficult to do justice when it came to furnishing an account of the lively reading by the group. The book was discussed animatedly. It was an extremely enjoyable discussion and every reader present voiced opinions vigorously, even the soft spoken and gentle Shoba.

Emily Brontë,in an oil painting by her brother, Branwell

Wuthering Heights, the classic novel by Emily Brontë, is listed at No. 13 in the top 100 books by The Guardian 

“Emily Brontë's windswept masterpiece is notable not just for its wild beauty but for its daring reinvention of the novel form itself,” declares the critic Robert McCrum in that article. But several of our readers did not accord it that acclaim upon reading it. The two members who selected the book, Talitha and Pamela, were not present to defend their choice against the criticism leveled by the readers. 

Thommo cast doubts over several aspects of the story. He wondered, for example, how Heathcliff earned his wealth and returned as a rich man three years after his mysterious disappearance. The story does not elaborate Heatcliff's acquisition of wealth, and his transformation from a rough yokel to a gentleman comes about through no process described in the novel.


Thommo, Shoba

The love showered on the 'stray' orphan Heathcliff by Mr. Earnshaw was deemed incongruous when contrasted with his rough behaviour toward his own son, Linton. 

The repetition of names of characters adds to confusion – Shobha and several others made this point. Occasionally it is not clear who is being referred to, who is speaking, and who is narrating.

The marriage of Catherine Earnshaw to Edgar Linton for advancement and refinement, motivated by class prejudice, and betraying Catherine's avowed fondness for Heathcliff was seen as strange, though not inexplicable. Another curious detail is that no church service is mentioned in the book and only the crude references to religion made by Joseph in passing bear on Christianity. He is clearly obsessed, a fundamentalist in modern terms.

Kavita read the passage where Heathcliff returns to find Catherine married to Edgar. He is desperate to have a meeting with her and hangs around their home, Thrushcross Grange, until Nelly the maid agrees to act as go-between and arranges a tȇte-a-tȇte.

Sunil read the passage where Cathy asks Nelly to keep her desire to marry Edgar Linton secret. People in the two houses married each other and had no contact with the world beyond. This isolation, according to Sunil, was a reflection of the isolation in the Brontë sisters' lives which was the reason for them to remain unmarried. 

The whole story is played out between the two houses, Wuthering Heights (WH) and Thrushcross Grange (TG), and the people residing there, having the same names over two generations. 

The distance between the two houses was discussed and also the landscape in which WH and TG were set. Did a low mountain range separate the two mansions? The presence of boggy areas, crags, and open spaces, on the moors covered in frost in winter was seen to add to the coincidences. The story “moved in circles.” 

Shoba read the description Wuthering Heights and said that the house had a looming Gothic presence, malevolent in character. 

Heathcliff’s acquisition of TG too was unclear, even as his becoming master of WH by clearing Earnshaw’s gambling debts seemed unconvincing. Nelly’s flip flop and narration too was found to be full of holes. 

The visitor Lockwood’s arrival at WH, to recuperate was seen as strange, since people generally go to the bright seaside scene for recovery, unless Lockwood had consumption, which is nowhere indicated. 

The sickly Linton was discussed and so was Joseph’s biblical language. Joseph was Heathcliff’s trusted man. Was the relationship of Heathcliff and Catherine a spiritual? This was briefly discussed and the consensus was against the hypothesis. 

Talitha sent her reading passage by Whatsapp; it was taken from Wuthering Heights - Open Guide To Literature, by Graham Holderneff. Holderneff speaks about the book’s avant-garde style of story telling where the reader’s attention is focused on the narrative; the author remains entirely in the background. Holderneff defines this as 'the objectivity of impersonal narrative and the subjectivity of the first person.' 

Talitha pronounced Lockwood an unreliable narrator, and Nelly too, she felt, cannot be counted on for a faithful retelling of the tale. Talitha pointed out the Gothic elements in the novel. She urged readers to notice Joseph’s interesting use of dialectal language, and to pay attention to the number of verbs used by him in Chapter 3. 

Saras said she ploughed through the novel dutifully and “hated it.” 

Saras, Sunil

Priya liked the language and the descriptions of the house and the landscapes. The complexity of Heathcliff’s character makes for good psychoanalysis, attempting to understand how his torture in youth at the hands Hindley shaped his lifelong desire for revenge.

Joe sent his reading as a voice file from Boston. Priya thought it was excellent. 'It almost felt like being in a theatre watching two actors,' she said. It was sweet of her to say we were missed (Joe and KumKum, that is), but the absence was felt on both sides. Joe's was a connected reading of three passages, weaving three scenes from the novel (The grave-digging scene, the final meeting between Heathcliff & Catherine, and the death of Heathcliff) into a narrative with commentary. 

Another point that was discussed was about Emily Brontë and her brother writing the novel together, which is why it led to so much confusion.  The novel was published under a pseudonym and after her death, Charlotte  Brontë published an amended second edition which is now the standard.

The end to a very lively session came when the group, barring two – Shoba and Priya – wondered why the book is regarded as a classic? Why is it read at all?

Sunil, Kavita, Priya, Saras, Shalini, Shoba, Thommo


Newcomer Shalini Dominic had read the book in school and expressed her desire to be part of KRG. She is an avid reader.

Shalini, Kavita


Readings

Saras

‘Now, who is that?’ asked Mr. Heathcliff, turning to Cathy. ‘Can you tell?’ ‘Your son?’ she said, having doubtfully surveyed, first one and then the other. 

‘Yes, yes,’ answered he: ‘but is this the only time you have beheld him? Think! Ah! you have a short memory. Linton, don’t you recall your cousin, that you used to tease us so with wishing to see?’ 
‘What, Linton!’ cried Cathy, kindling into joyful surprise at the name. ‘Is that little Linton? He’s taller than I am! Are you Linton?’ 
The youth stepped forward, and acknowledged himself: she kissed him fervently, and they gazed with wonder at the change time had wrought in the appearance of each. Catherine had reached her full height; her figure was both plump and slender, elastic as steel, and her whole aspect sparkling with health and spirits. Linton’s looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him not unpleasing. After exchanging numerous marks of fondness with him, his cousin went to Mr. Heathcliff, who lingered by the door, dividing his attention between the objects inside and those that lay without: pretending, that is, to observe the latter, and really noting the former alone. 
‘And you are my uncle, then!’ she cried, reaching up to salute him. ‘I thought I liked you, though you were cross at first. Why don’t you visit at the Grange with Linton? To live all these years such close neighbours, and never see us, is odd: what have you done so for?’ 
‘I visited it once or twice too often before you were born,’ he answered. ‘There— damn it! If you have any kisses to spare, give them to Linton: they are thrown away on me.’ 
‘Naughty Ellen!’ exclaimed Catherine, flying to attack me next with her lavish caresses. ‘Wicked Ellen! to try to hinder me from entering. But I’ll take this walk every morning in future: may I, uncle? and sometimes bring papa. Won’t you be glad to see us?’ 
‘Of course,’ replied the uncle, with a hardly suppressed grimace, resulting from his deep aversion to both the proposed visitors. ‘But stay,’ he continued, turning towards the young lady. ‘Now I think of it, I’d better tell you. Mr. Linton has a prejudice against me: we quarrelled at one time of our lives, with unchristian ferocity; and, if you mention coming here to him, he’ll put a veto on your visits altogether. Therefore, you must not mention it, unless you be careless of seeing your cousin hereafter: you may come, if you will, but you must not mention it.’ 
‘Why did you quarrel?’ asked Catherine, considerably crestfallen. 
‘He thought me too poor to wed his sister,’ answered Heathcliff, ‘and was grieved that I got her: his pride was hurt, and he’ll never forgive it.’ 
‘That’s wrong!’ said the young lady: ‘some time I’ll tell him so. But Linton and I have no share in your quarrel. I’ll not come here, then; he shall come to the Grange.’ 
‘It will be too far for me,’ murmured her cousin: ‘to walk four miles would kill me. No, come here, Miss Catherine, now and then: not every morning, but once or twice a week.’ 
The father launched towards his son a glance of bitter contempt. 
‘I am afraid, Nelly, I shall lose my labour,’ he muttered to me. ‘Miss Catherine, as the ninny calls her, will discover his value, and send him to the devil. Now, if it had been Hareton!—Do you know that, twenty times a day, I covet Hareton, with all his degradation? I’d have loved the lad had he been some one else. But I think he’s safe from her love. I’ll pit him against that paltry creature, unless it bestir itself briskly. We calculate it will scarcely last till it is eighteen. Oh, confound the vapid thing! He’s absorbed in drying his feet, and never looks at her.—Linton!’ 
‘Yes, father,’ answered the boy. 
‘Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhere about, not even a rabbit or a weasel’s nest? Take her into the garden, before you change your shoes; and into the stable to see your horse.’ 
‘Wouldn’t you rather sit here?’ asked Linton, addressing Cathy in a tone which expressed reluctance to move again. 
‘I don’t know,’ she replied, casting a longing look to the door, and evidently eager to be active. 
He kept his seat, and shrank closer to the fire. Heathcliff rose, and went into the kitchen, and from thence to the yard, calling out for Hareton. Hareton responded, and presently the two re-entered. The young man had been washing himself, as was visible by the glow on his cheeks and his wetted hair. 
‘Oh, I’ll ask you, uncle,’ cried Miss Cathy, recollecting the housekeeper’s assertion. ‘That is not my cousin, is he?’ 
‘Yes,’ he, replied, ‘your mother’s nephew. Don’t you like him!’ Catherine looked queer.
‘Is he not a handsome lad?’ he continued. 
The uncivil little thing stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence in Heathcliff’s ear. He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he was very sensitive to suspected slights, and had obviously a dim notion of his inferiority. But his master or guardian chased the frown by exclaiming— 
‘You’ll be the favourite among us, Hareton! She says you are a—What was it? Well, something very flattering. Here! you go with her round the farm. And behave like a gentleman, mind! Don’t use any bad words; and don’t stare when the young lady is not looking at you, and be ready to hide your face when she is; and, when you speak, say your words slowly, and keep your hands out of your pockets. Be off, and entertain her as nicely as you can.’ 

Priya

‘Is he a ghoul or a vampire?’ I mused. I had read of such hideous incarnate
demons. And then I set myself to reflect how I had tended him in infancy, and watched him grow to youth, and followed him almost through his whole course; and what absurd nonsense it was to yield to that sense of horror. ‘But where did he come from, the little dark thing, harboured by a good man to his bane?’ muttered Superstition, as I dozed into unconsciousness. And I began, half dreaming, to weary myself with imagining some fit parentage for him; and, repeating my waking meditations, I tracked his existence over again, with grim variations; at last, picturing his death and funeral: of which, all I can remember is, being exceedingly vexed at having the task of dictating an inscription for his monument, and consulting the sexton about it; and, as he had no surname, and we could not tell his age, we were  obliged to content ourselves with the single word, ‘Heathcliff.’ That came true: we were. If you enter the kirkyard, you’ll read, on his headstone, only that, and the date of his death. 

Dawn restored me to common sense. I rose, and went into the garden, as soon as I could see, to ascertain if there were any footmarks under his window. There were none. ‘He has stayed at home,’ I thought, ‘and he’ll be all right to-day.’ I prepared breakfast for the household, as was my usual custom, but told Hareton and Catherine to get theirs ere the master came down, for he lay late. They preferred taking it out of doors, under the trees, and I set a little table to accommodate them. 
On my re-entrance, I found Mr. Heathcliff below. He and Joseph were conversing about some farming business; he gave clear, minute directions concerning the matter discussed, but he spoke rapidly, and turned his head continually aside, and had the same excited expression, even more exaggerated. When Joseph quitted the room he took his seat in the place he generally chose, and I put a basin of coffee before him. He drew it nearer, and then rested his arms on the table, and looked at the opposite wall, as I supposed, surveying one particular portion, up and down, with glittering, restless eyes, and with such eager interest that he stopped breathing during half a minute together. 
‘Come now,’ I exclaimed, pushing some bread against his hand, ‘eat and drink that, while it is hot: it has been waiting near an hour.’ 
He didn’t notice me, and yet he smiled. I’d rather have seen him gnash his teeth than smile so. 
‘Mr. Heathcliff! master!’ I cried, ‘don’t, for God’s sake, stare as if you saw an unearthly vision.’ 
‘Don’t, for God’s sake, shout so loud,’ he replied. ‘Turn round, and tell me, are we by ourselves?’ 
‘Of course,’ was my answer; ‘of course we are.’ 
Still, I involuntarily obeyed him, as if I was not quite sure. With a sweep of his hand he cleared a vacant space in front among the breakfast things, and leant forward to gaze more at his ease. 
Now, I perceived he was not looking at the wall; for when I regarded him alone, it seemed exactly that he gazed at something within two yards’ distance. And whatever it was, it communicated, apparently, both pleasure and pain in exquisite extremes: at least the anguished, yet raptured, expression of his countenance suggested that idea. The fancied object was not fixed, either: his eyes pursued it with unwearied diligence, and, even in speaking to me, were never weaned away. I vainly reminded him of his protracted abstinence from food: if he stirred to touch anything in compliance with my entreaties, if he stretched his hand out to get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched before they reached it, and remained on the table, forgetful of their aim. 
I sat, a model of patience, trying to attract his absorbed attention from its engrossing speculation; till he grew irritable, and got up, asking why I would not allow him to have his own time in taking his meals? and saying that on the next occasion I needn’t wait: I might set the things down and go. Having uttered these words he left the house, slowly sauntered down the garden path, and disappeared through the gate. 
The hours crept anxiously by: another evening came. I did not retire to rest till late, and when I did, I could not sleep. He returned after midnight, and, instead of going to bed, shut himself into the room beneath. I listened, and tossed about, and, finally, dressed and descended. It was too irksome to lie there, harassing my brain with a hundred idle misgivings. 
I distinguished Mr. Heathcliff’s step, restlessly measuring the floor, and he frequently broke the silence by a deep inspiration, resembling a groan. He muttered detached words also; the only one I could catch was the name of Catherine, coupled with some wild term of endearment or suffering; and spoken as one would speak to a person present; low and earnest, and wrung from the depth of his soul. I had not courage to walk straight into the apartment; but I desired to divert him from his reverie, and therefore fell foul of the kitchen fire, stirred it, and began to scrape the cinders. It drew him forth sooner than I expected. He opened the door immediately, and said—‘Nelly, come here—is it morning? Come in with your light.’ 
‘It is striking four,’ I answered. ‘You want a candle to take up-stairs: you might have lit one at this fire.’ 
‘No, I don’t wish to go up-stairs,’ he said. ‘Come in, and kindle me a fire, and do anything there is to do about the room.’ 
‘I must blow the coals red first, before I can carry any,’ I replied, getting a chair and the bellows. 
He roamed to and fro, meantime, in a state approaching distraction; his heavy sighs succeeding each other so thick as to leave no space for common breathing between. 
‘When day breaks I’ll send for Green,’ he said; ‘I wish to make some legal inquiries of him while I can bestow a thought on those matters, and while I can act calmly. I have not written my will yet; and how to leave my property I cannot determine. I wish I could annihilate it from the face of the earth.’ 
‘I would not talk so, Mr. Heathcliff,’ I interposed. ‘Let your will be a while: you’ll be spared to repent of your many injustices yet! I never expected that your nerves would be disordered: they are, at present, marvellously so, however; and almost entirely through your own fault. The way you’ve passed these three last days might knock up a Titan. Do take some food, and some repose. You need only look at yourself in a glass to see how you require both. Your cheeks are hollow, and your eyes blood-shot, like a person starving with hunger and going blind with loss of sleep.’ 
‘It is not my fault that I cannot eat or rest,’ he replied. ‘I assure you it is through no settled designs. I’ll do both, as soon as I possibly can. But you might as well bid a man struggling in the water rest within arms’ length of the shore! I must reach it first, and then I’ll rest. Well, never mind Mr. Green: as to repenting of my injustices, I’ve done no injustice, and I repent of nothing. I’m too happy; and yet I’m not happy enough. My soul’s bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself.’ 
‘Happy, master?’ I cried. ‘Strange happiness! If you would hear me without being angry, I might offer some advice that would make you happier.’ 
‘What is that?’ he asked. ‘Give it.’ 
‘You are aware, Mr. Heathcliff,’ I said, ‘that from the time you were thirteen years old you have lived a selfish, unchristian life; and probably hardly had a Bible in your hands during all that period. You must have forgotten the contents of the book, and you may not have space to search it now. Could it be hurtful to send for some one— some minister of any denomination, it does not matter which—to explain it, and show you how very far you have erred from its precepts; and how unfit you will be for its heaven, unless a change takes place before you die?’ 
‘I’m rather obliged than angry, Nelly,’ he said, ‘for you remind me of the manner in which I desire to be buried. It is to be carried to the churchyard in the evening. You and Hareton may, if you please, accompany me: and mind, particularly, to notice that the sexton obeys my directions concerning the two coffins! No minister need come; nor need anything be said over me.—I tell you I have nearly attained my heaven; and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me.’ 
‘And supposing you persevered in your obstinate fast, and died by that means, and they refused to bury you in the precincts of the kirk?’ I said, shocked at his godless indifference. ‘How would you like it?’ 
‘They won’t do that,’ he replied: ‘if they did, you must have me removed secretly; and if you neglect it you shall prove, practically, that the dead are not annihilated!’ 
As soon as he heard the other members of the family stirring he retired to his den, and I breathed freer. But in the afternoon, while Joseph and Hareton were at their work, he came into the kitchen again, and, with a wild look, bid me come and sit in the house: he wanted somebody with him. I declined; telling him plainly that his strange talk and manner frightened me, and I had neither the nerve nor the will to be his companion alone. 
‘I believe you think me a fiend,’ he said, with his dismal laugh: ‘something too horrible to live under a decent roof.’ Then turning to Catherine, who was there, and who drew behind me at his approach, he added, half sneeringly,—‘Will you come, chuck? I’ll not hurt you. No! to you I’ve made myself worse than the devil. Well, there is one who won’t shrink from my company! By God! she’s relentless. Oh, damn it! It’s unutterably too much for flesh and blood to bear—even mine.’ 
He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into his chamber. Through the whole night, and far into the morning, we heard him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxious to enter; but I bid him fetch Mr. Kenneth, and he should go in and see him. When he came, and I requested admittance and tried to open the door, I found it locked; and Heathcliff bid us be damned. He was better, and would be left alone; so the doctor went away. 
The following evening was very wet: indeed, it poured down till day-dawn; and, as I took my morning walk round the house, I observed the master’s window swinging open, and the rain driving straight in. He cannot be in bed, I thought: those showers would drench him through. He must either be up or out. But I’ll make no more ado, I’ll go boldly and look.’ 
Having succeeded in obtaining entrance with another key, I ran to unclose the panels, for the chamber was vacant; quickly pushing them aside, I peeped in. Mr. Heathcliff was there—laid on his back. His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile. I could not think him dead: but his face and throat were washed with rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was perfectly still. The lattice, flapping to and fro, had grazed one hand that rested on the sill; no blood trickled from the broken skin, and when I put my fingers to it, I could doubt no more: he was dead and stark! 

Joe

To listen to a recording click here.
In this reading I will weave three scenes from the novel (The grave-digging scene, the final meeting between Heathcliff & Catherine, and the death of Heathcliff) into a narrative with commentary. 


The expectant reader of Wuthering Heights won't find romantic scenes to thrill the heart in this novel, which has made its reputation among women readers. The hero is a disagreeable rogue, whose actions are motivated by revenge for past slights, chief of which was not to have won the woman he loved. Notwithstanding his undoubted abilities of perseverance and courage, he gives in to fretful brooding on the past, and plans his revenge on the world by wresting the property of those he hated. But he derives little pleasure after compassing the end successfully. Instead he succumbs to a fatal fixation on the woman he lost long ago and desires to be united with in death, as he could not in life. In a ghoulish scene he goes mad and digs up the grave of Cathy to lie next to her in the sod. Here is Ch 29:
‘I’ll tell you what I did yesterday! I got the sexton, who was digging Linton’s grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there: when I saw her face again—it is hers yet!—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up: not Linton’s side, damn him! I wish he’d been soldered in lead. And I bribed the sexton to pull it away when I’m laid there, and slide mine out too; I’ll have it made so: and then by the time Linton gets to us he’ll not know which is which!’
‘You were very wicked, Mr. Heathcliff!’ I exclaimed; ‘were you not ashamed to disturb the dead?’
‘I disturbed nobody, Nelly,’ he replied; ‘and I gave some ease to myself. I shall be a great deal more comfortable now; and you’ll have a better chance of keeping me underground, when I get there. Disturbed her? No! she has disturbed me, night and day, through eighteen years—incessantly—remorselessly—till yesternight; and yesternight I was tranquil. I dreamt I was sleeping the last sleep by that sleeper, with my heart stopped and my cheek frozen against hers.’

The love scenes are not free of pain and sadness, characteristic of this book, and it is perhaps that which gives the tale a piquancy appealing to young women. Take the scene of their final meeting in Chapter 15:
Heathcliff, dear! you should not be sullen now. Do come to me, Heathcliff.’
In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on the arm of the chair. At that earnest appeal he turned to her, looking absolutely desperate. His eyes, wide and wet, at last flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder, and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive: in fact, to my eyes, she seemed directly insensible. He flung himself into the nearest seat, and on my approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she had fainted, he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel as if I were in the company of a creature of my own species: it appeared that he would not understand, though I spoke to him; so I stood off, and held my tongue, in great perplexity.
A movement of Catherine’s relieved me a little presently: she put up her hand to clasp his neck, and bring her cheek to his as he held her; while he, in return, covering her with frantic caresses, said wildly—
‘You teach me now how cruel you’ve been—cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears: they’ll blight you—they’ll damn you. You loved me—then what right had you to leave me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?’
‘Let me alone. Let me alone,’ sobbed Catherine. ‘If I’ve done wrong, I’m dying for it. It is enough! You left me too: but I won’t upbraid you! I forgive you. Forgive me!’
‘It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,’ he answered. ‘Kiss me again; and don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer—but yours! How can I?’
They were silent-their faces hid against each other, and washed by each other’s tears. At least, I suppose the weeping was on both sides; as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on a great occasion like this.

The end comes to Heathcliff after a long-drawn out period of obsessive absorption with visions of Catherine, a period during which he passes on food and waves off the doctor in Ch 34:
’He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into his chamber. Through the whole night, and far into the morning, we heard him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxious to enter; but I bid him fetch Mr. Kenneth, and he should go in and see him. When he came, and I requested admittance and tried to open the door, I found it locked; and Heathcliff bid us be damned. He was better, and would be left alone; so the doctor went away.

Next day the householders led by Nelly force their way into his chamber
I peeped in. Mr. Heathcliff was there—laid on his back. His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile. I could not think him dead: but his face and throat were washed with rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was perfectly still. The lattice, flapping to and fro, had grazed one hand that rested on the sill; no blood trickled from the broken skin, and when I put my fingers to it, I could doubt no more: he was dead and stark!



Shoba

Ch1 Description of Wuthering Heights

“Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door; above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins and shameless little boys, I detected the date ‘1500,’ and the name ‘Hareton Earnshaw.’  I would have made a few comments, and requested a short history of the place from the surly owner; but his attitude at the door appeared to demand my speedy entrance, or complete departure, and I had no desire to aggravate his impatience previous to inspecting the penetralium.”

“One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any introductory lobby or passage: they call it here ‘the house’ pre-eminently.  It includes kitchen and parlour, generally; but I believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguished a chatter of tongues, and a clatter of culinary utensils, deep within; and I observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on the walls.  One end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof.  The latter had never been under-drawn: its entire anatomy lay bare to an inquiring eye, except where a frame of wood laden with oatcakes and clusters of legs of beef, mutton, and ham, concealed it.  Above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols: and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters disposed along its ledge.  “The floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade.  In an arch under the dresser reposed a huge, liver-coloured bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses.

The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary as belonging to a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn countenance, and stalwart limbs set out to advantage in knee-breeches and gaiters.  Such an individual seated in his arm-chair, his mug of ale frothing on the round table before him, is to be seen in any circuit of five or six miles among these hills, if you go at the right time after dinner.  But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living.  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.  

Emily Brontë — Wuthering Heights, July 1, 2016


Wuthering Heights, first Edition 1847

Reading of Wuthering Heights, July 1, 2016
Present: Thommo, Sunil, Shoba, Kavita, Saras, Priya, Joe (remote by Dropbox), Talitha (remote by Whatsapp)
Absent: Zakia, Ammu, KumKum (away abroad), Gopa (away to Bengaluru), Pamela (sick with redeye), Preeti
Guest: Shalini Dominic

This account of the Wuthering Heights reading is offered by Priya, our faithful recorder, on behalf of fellow members of KRG. She confesses that KRG is close to her heart, but she found it difficult to do justice when it came to furnishing an account of the lively reading by the group. The book was discussed animatedly. It was an extremely enjoyable discussion and every reader present voiced opinions vigorously, even the soft spoken and gentle Shoba.

Emily Brontë,in an oil painting by her brother, Branwell

Wuthering Heights, the classic novel by Emily Brontë, is listed at No. 13 in the top 100 books by The Guardian 

“Emily Brontë's windswept masterpiece is notable not just for its wild beauty but for its daring reinvention of the novel form itself,” declares the critic Robert McCrum in that article. But several of our readers did not accord it that acclaim upon reading it. The two members who selected the book, Talitha and Pamela, were not present to defend their choice against the criticism leveled by the readers. 

Thommo cast doubts over several aspects of the story. He wondered, for example, how Heathcliff earned his wealth and returned as a rich man three years after his mysterious disappearance. The story does not elaborate Heatcliff's acquisition of wealth, and his transformation from a rough yokel to a gentleman comes about through no process described in the novel.


Thommo, Shoba

The love showered on the 'stray' orphan Heathcliff by Mr. Earnshaw was deemed incongruous when contrasted with his rough behaviour toward his own son, Linton. 

The repetition of names of characters adds to confusion – Shobha and several others made this point. Occasionally it is not clear who is being referred to, who is speaking, and who is narrating.

The marriage of Catherine Earnshaw to Edgar Linton for advancement and refinement, motivated by class prejudice, and betraying Catherine's avowed fondness for Heathcliff was seen as strange, though not inexplicable. Another curious detail is that no church service is mentioned in the book and only the crude references to religion made by Joseph in passing bear on Christianity. He is clearly obsessed, a fundamentalist in modern terms.

Kavita read the passage where Heathcliff returns to find Catherine married to Edgar. He is desperate to have a meeting with her and hangs around their home, Thrushcross Grange, until Nelly the maid agrees to act as go-between and arranges a tȇte-a-tȇte.

Sunil read the passage where Cathy asks Nelly to keep her desire to marry Edgar Linton secret. People in the two houses married each other and had no contact with the world beyond. This isolation, according to Sunil, was a reflection of the isolation in the Brontë sisters' lives which was the reason for them to remain unmarried. 

The whole story is played out between the two houses, Wuthering Heights (WH) and Thrushcross Grange (TG), and the people residing there, having the same names over two generations. 

The distance between the two houses was discussed and also the landscape in which WH and TG were set. Did a low mountain range separate the two mansions? The presence of boggy areas, crags, and open spaces, on the moors covered in frost in winter was seen to add to the coincidences. The story “moved in circles.” 

Shoba read the description Wuthering Heights and said that the house had a looming Gothic presence, malevolent in character. 

Heathcliff’s acquisition of TG too was unclear, even as his becoming master of WH by clearing Earnshaw’s gambling debts seemed unconvincing. Nelly’s flip flop and narration too was found to be full of holes. 

The visitor Lockwood’s arrival at WH, to recuperate was seen as strange, since people generally go to the bright seaside scene for recovery, unless Lockwood had consumption, which is nowhere indicated. 

The sickly Linton was discussed and so was Joseph’s biblical language. Joseph was Heathcliff’s trusted man. Was the relationship of Heathcliff and Catherine a spiritual? This was briefly discussed and the consensus was against the hypothesis. 

Talitha sent her reading passage by Whatsapp; it was taken from Wuthering Heights - Open Guide To Literature, by Graham Holderneff. Holderneff speaks about the book’s avant-garde style of story telling where the reader’s attention is focused on the narrative; the author remains entirely in the background. Holderneff defines this as 'the objectivity of impersonal narrative and the subjectivity of the first person.' 

Talitha pronounced Lockwood an unreliable narrator, and Nelly too, she felt, cannot be counted on for a faithful retelling of the tale. Talitha pointed out the Gothic elements in the novel. She urged readers to notice Joseph’s interesting use of dialectal language, and to pay attention to the number of verbs used by him in Chapter 3. 

Saras said she ploughed through the novel dutifully and “hated it.” 

Saras, Sunil

Priya liked the language and the descriptions of the house and the landscapes. The complexity of Heathcliff’s character makes for good psychoanalysis, attempting to understand how his torture in youth at the hands of Hindley shaped his lifelong desire for revenge.

Joe sent his reading as a voice file from Boston. Priya thought it was excellent. 'It almost felt like being in a theatre watching two actors,' she said. It was sweet of her to say we were missed (Joe and KumKum, that is), but the absence was felt on both sides. Joe's was a connected reading of three passages, weaving three scenes from the novel (The grave-digging scene, the final meeting between Heathcliff & Catherine, and the death of Heathcliff) into a narrative with commentary. 

Another point that was discussed was about Emily Brontë and her brother writing the novel together, which is why it led to so much confusion.  The novel was published under a pseudonym and after her death, Charlotte  Brontë published an amended second edition which is now the standard.

The end to a very lively session came when the group, barring two – Shoba and Priya – wondered why the book is regarded as a classic? Why is it read at all?

Sunil, Kavita, Priya, Saras, Shalini, Shoba, Thommo


Newcomer Shalini Dominic had read the book in school and expressed her desire to be part of KRG. She is an avid reader.

Shalini, Kavita


Readings

Saras

‘Now, who is that?’ asked Mr. Heathcliff, turning to Cathy. ‘Can you tell?’ ‘Your son?’ she said, having doubtfully surveyed, first one and then the other. 
‘Yes, yes,’ answered he: ‘but is this the only time you have beheld him? Think! Ah! you have a short memory. Linton, don’t you recall your cousin, that you used to tease us so with wishing to see?’ 
‘What, Linton!’ cried Cathy, kindling into joyful surprise at the name. ‘Is that little Linton? He’s taller than I am! Are you Linton?’ 
The youth stepped forward, and acknowledged himself: she kissed him fervently, and they gazed with wonder at the change time had wrought in the appearance of each. Catherine had reached her full height; her figure was both plump and slender, elastic as steel, and her whole aspect sparkling with health and spirits. Linton’s looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him not unpleasing. After exchanging numerous marks of fondness with him, his cousin went to Mr. Heathcliff, who lingered by the door, dividing his attention between the objects inside and those that lay without: pretending, that is, to observe the latter, and really noting the former alone. 
‘And you are my uncle, then!’ she cried, reaching up to salute him. ‘I thought I liked you, though you were cross at first. Why don’t you visit at the Grange with Linton? To live all these years such close neighbours, and never see us, is odd: what have you done so for?’ 
‘I visited it once or twice too often before you were born,’ he answered. ‘There— damn it! If you have any kisses to spare, give them to Linton: they are thrown away on me.’ 
‘Naughty Ellen!’ exclaimed Catherine, flying to attack me next with her lavish caresses. ‘Wicked Ellen! to try to hinder me from entering. But I’ll take this walk every morning in future: may I, uncle? and sometimes bring papa. Won’t you be glad to see us?’ 
‘Of course,’ replied the uncle, with a hardly suppressed grimace, resulting from his deep aversion to both the proposed visitors. ‘But stay,’ he continued, turning towards the young lady. ‘Now I think of it, I’d better tell you. Mr. Linton has a prejudice against me: we quarrelled at one time of our lives, with unchristian ferocity; and, if you mention coming here to him, he’ll put a veto on your visits altogether. Therefore, you must not mention it, unless you be careless of seeing your cousin hereafter: you may come, if you will, but you must not mention it.’ 
‘Why did you quarrel?’ asked Catherine, considerably crestfallen. 
‘He thought me too poor to wed his sister,’ answered Heathcliff, ‘and was grieved that I got her: his pride was hurt, and he’ll never forgive it.’ 
‘That’s wrong!’ said the young lady: ‘some time I’ll tell him so. But Linton and I have no share in your quarrel. I’ll not come here, then; he shall come to the Grange.’ 
‘It will be too far for me,’ murmured her cousin: ‘to walk four miles would kill me. No, come here, Miss Catherine, now and then: not every morning, but once or twice a week.’ 
The father launched towards his son a glance of bitter contempt. 
‘I am afraid, Nelly, I shall lose my labour,’ he muttered to me. ‘Miss Catherine, as the ninny calls her, will discover his value, and send him to the devil. Now, if it had been Hareton!—Do you know that, twenty times a day, I covet Hareton, with all his degradation? I’d have loved the lad had he been some one else. But I think he’s safe from her love. I’ll pit him against that paltry creature, unless it bestir itself briskly. We calculate it will scarcely last till it is eighteen. Oh, confound the vapid thing! He’s absorbed in drying his feet, and never looks at her.—Linton!’ 
‘Yes, father,’ answered the boy. 
‘Have you nothing to show your cousin anywhere about, not even a rabbit or a weasel’s nest? Take her into the garden, before you change your shoes; and into the stable to see your horse.’ 
‘Wouldn’t you rather sit here?’ asked Linton, addressing Cathy in a tone which expressed reluctance to move again. 
‘I don’t know,’ she replied, casting a longing look to the door, and evidently eager to be active. 
He kept his seat, and shrank closer to the fire. Heathcliff rose, and went into the kitchen, and from thence to the yard, calling out for Hareton. Hareton responded, and presently the two re-entered. The young man had been washing himself, as was visible by the glow on his cheeks and his wetted hair. 
‘Oh, I’ll ask you, uncle,’ cried Miss Cathy, recollecting the housekeeper’s assertion. ‘That is not my cousin, is he?’ 
‘Yes,’ he, replied, ‘your mother’s nephew. Don’t you like him!’ Catherine looked queer.
‘Is he not a handsome lad?’ he continued. 
The uncivil little thing stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence in Heathcliff’s ear. He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he was very sensitive to suspected slights, and had obviously a dim notion of his inferiority. But his master or guardian chased the frown by exclaiming— 
‘You’ll be the favourite among us, Hareton! She says you are a—What was it? Well, something very flattering. Here! you go with her round the farm. And behave like a gentleman, mind! Don’t use any bad words; and don’t stare when the young lady is not looking at you, and be ready to hide your face when she is; and, when you speak, say your words slowly, and keep your hands out of your pockets. Be off, and entertain her as nicely as you can.’ 

Priya

‘Is he a ghoul or a vampire?’ I mused. I had read of such hideous incarnate
demons. And then I set myself to reflect how I had tended him in infancy, and watched him grow to youth, and followed him almost through his whole course; and what absurd nonsense it was to yield to that sense of horror. ‘But where did he come from, the little dark thing, harboured by a good man to his bane?’ muttered Superstition, as I dozed into unconsciousness. And I began, half dreaming, to weary myself with imagining some fit parentage for him; and, repeating my waking meditations, I tracked his existence over again, with grim variations; at last, picturing his death and funeral: of which, all I can remember is, being exceedingly vexed at having the task of dictating an inscription for his monument, and consulting the sexton about it; and, as he had no surname, and we could not tell his age, we were  obliged to content ourselves with the single word, ‘Heathcliff.’ That came true: we were. If you enter the kirkyard, you’ll read, on his headstone, only that, and the date of his death. 
Dawn restored me to common sense. I rose, and went into the garden, as soon as I could see, to ascertain if there were any footmarks under his window. There were none. ‘He has stayed at home,’ I thought, ‘and he’ll be all right to-day.’ I prepared breakfast for the household, as was my usual custom, but told Hareton and Catherine to get theirs ere the master came down, for he lay late. They preferred taking it out of doors, under the trees, and I set a little table to accommodate them. 
On my re-entrance, I found Mr. Heathcliff below. He and Joseph were conversing about some farming business; he gave clear, minute directions concerning the matter discussed, but he spoke rapidly, and turned his head continually aside, and had the same excited expression, even more exaggerated. When Joseph quitted the room he took his seat in the place he generally chose, and I put a basin of coffee before him. He drew it nearer, and then rested his arms on the table, and looked at the opposite wall, as I supposed, surveying one particular portion, up and down, with glittering, restless eyes, and with such eager interest that he stopped breathing during half a minute together. 
‘Come now,’ I exclaimed, pushing some bread against his hand, ‘eat and drink that, while it is hot: it has been waiting near an hour.’ 
He didn’t notice me, and yet he smiled. I’d rather have seen him gnash his teeth than smile so. 
‘Mr. Heathcliff! master!’ I cried, ‘don’t, for God’s sake, stare as if you saw an unearthly vision.’ 
‘Don’t, for God’s sake, shout so loud,’ he replied. ‘Turn round, and tell me, are we by ourselves?’ 
‘Of course,’ was my answer; ‘of course we are.’ 
Still, I involuntarily obeyed him, as if I was not quite sure. With a sweep of his hand he cleared a vacant space in front among the breakfast things, and leant forward to gaze more at his ease. 
Now, I perceived he was not looking at the wall; for when I regarded him alone, it seemed exactly that he gazed at something within two yards’ distance. And whatever it was, it communicated, apparently, both pleasure and pain in exquisite extremes: at least the anguished, yet raptured, expression of his countenance suggested that idea. The fancied object was not fixed, either: his eyes pursued it with unwearied diligence, and, even in speaking to me, were never weaned away. I vainly reminded him of his protracted abstinence from food: if he stirred to touch anything in compliance with my entreaties, if he stretched his hand out to get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched before they reached it, and remained on the table, forgetful of their aim. 
I sat, a model of patience, trying to attract his absorbed attention from its engrossing speculation; till he grew irritable, and got up, asking why I would not allow him to have his own time in taking his meals? and saying that on the next occasion I needn’t wait: I might set the things down and go. Having uttered these words he left the house, slowly sauntered down the garden path, and disappeared through the gate. 
The hours crept anxiously by: another evening came. I did not retire to rest till late, and when I did, I could not sleep. He returned after midnight, and, instead of going to bed, shut himself into the room beneath. I listened, and tossed about, and, finally, dressed and descended. It was too irksome to lie there, harassing my brain with a hundred idle misgivings. 
I distinguished Mr. Heathcliff’s step, restlessly measuring the floor, and he frequently broke the silence by a deep inspiration, resembling a groan. He muttered detached words also; the only one I could catch was the name of Catherine, coupled with some wild term of endearment or suffering; and spoken as one would speak to a person present; low and earnest, and wrung from the depth of his soul. I had not courage to walk straight into the apartment; but I desired to divert him from his reverie, and therefore fell foul of the kitchen fire, stirred it, and began to scrape the cinders. It drew him forth sooner than I expected. He opened the door immediately, and said—‘Nelly, come here—is it morning? Come in with your light.’ 
‘It is striking four,’ I answered. ‘You want a candle to take up-stairs: you might have lit one at this fire.’ 
‘No, I don’t wish to go up-stairs,’ he said. ‘Come in, and kindle me a fire, and do anything there is to do about the room.’ 
‘I must blow the coals red first, before I can carry any,’ I replied, getting a chair and the bellows. 
He roamed to and fro, meantime, in a state approaching distraction; his heavy sighs succeeding each other so thick as to leave no space for common breathing between. 
‘When day breaks I’ll send for Green,’ he said; ‘I wish to make some legal inquiries of him while I can bestow a thought on those matters, and while I can act calmly. I have not written my will yet; and how to leave my property I cannot determine. I wish I could annihilate it from the face of the earth.’ 
‘I would not talk so, Mr. Heathcliff,’ I interposed. ‘Let your will be a while: you’ll be spared to repent of your many injustices yet! I never expected that your nerves would be disordered: they are, at present, marvellously so, however; and almost entirely through your own fault. The way you’ve passed these three last days might knock up a Titan. Do take some food, and some repose. You need only look at yourself in a glass to see how you require both. Your cheeks are hollow, and your eyes blood-shot, like a person starving with hunger and going blind with loss of sleep.’ 
‘It is not my fault that I cannot eat or rest,’ he replied. ‘I assure you it is through no settled designs. I’ll do both, as soon as I possibly can. But you might as well bid a man struggling in the water rest within arms’ length of the shore! I must reach it first, and then I’ll rest. Well, never mind Mr. Green: as to repenting of my injustices, I’ve done no injustice, and I repent of nothing. I’m too happy; and yet I’m not happy enough. My soul’s bliss kills my body, but does not satisfy itself.’ 
‘Happy, master?’ I cried. ‘Strange happiness! If you would hear me without being angry, I might offer some advice that would make you happier.’ 
‘What is that?’ he asked. ‘Give it.’ 
‘You are aware, Mr. Heathcliff,’ I said, ‘that from the time you were thirteen years old you have lived a selfish, unchristian life; and probably hardly had a Bible in your hands during all that period. You must have forgotten the contents of the book, and you may not have space to search it now. Could it be hurtful to send for some one— some minister of any denomination, it does not matter which—to explain it, and show you how very far you have erred from its precepts; and how unfit you will be for its heaven, unless a change takes place before you die?’ 
‘I’m rather obliged than angry, Nelly,’ he said, ‘for you remind me of the manner in which I desire to be buried. It is to be carried to the churchyard in the evening. You and Hareton may, if you please, accompany me: and mind, particularly, to notice that the sexton obeys my directions concerning the two coffins! No minister need come; nor need anything be said over me.—I tell you I have nearly attained my heaven; and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me.’ 
‘And supposing you persevered in your obstinate fast, and died by that means, and they refused to bury you in the precincts of the kirk?’ I said, shocked at his godless indifference. ‘How would you like it?’ 
‘They won’t do that,’ he replied: ‘if they did, you must have me removed secretly; and if you neglect it you shall prove, practically, that the dead are not annihilated!’ 
As soon as he heard the other members of the family stirring he retired to his den, and I breathed freer. But in the afternoon, while Joseph and Hareton were at their work, he came into the kitchen again, and, with a wild look, bid me come and sit in the house: he wanted somebody with him. I declined; telling him plainly that his strange talk and manner frightened me, and I had neither the nerve nor the will to be his companion alone. 
‘I believe you think me a fiend,’ he said, with his dismal laugh: ‘something too horrible to live under a decent roof.’ Then turning to Catherine, who was there, and who drew behind me at his approach, he added, half sneeringly,—‘Will you come, chuck? I’ll not hurt you. No! to you I’ve made myself worse than the devil. Well, there is one who won’t shrink from my company! By God! she’s relentless. Oh, damn it! It’s unutterably too much for flesh and blood to bear—even mine.’ 
He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into his chamber. Through the whole night, and far into the morning, we heard him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxious to enter; but I bid him fetch Mr. Kenneth, and he should go in and see him. When he came, and I requested admittance and tried to open the door, I found it locked; and Heathcliff bid us be damned. He was better, and would be left alone; so the doctor went away. 
The following evening was very wet: indeed, it poured down till day-dawn; and, as I took my morning walk round the house, I observed the master’s window swinging open, and the rain driving straight in. He cannot be in bed, I thought: those showers would drench him through. He must either be up or out. But I’ll make no more ado, I’ll go boldly and look.’ 
Having succeeded in obtaining entrance with another key, I ran to unclose the panels, for the chamber was vacant; quickly pushing them aside, I peeped in. Mr. Heathcliff was there—laid on his back. His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile. I could not think him dead: but his face and throat were washed with rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was perfectly still. The lattice, flapping to and fro, had grazed one hand that rested on the sill; no blood trickled from the broken skin, and when I put my fingers to it, I could doubt no more: he was dead and stark! 

Joe

To listen to a recording click here.
In this reading I will weave three scenes from the novel (The grave-digging scene, the final meeting between Heathcliff & Catherine, and the death of Heathcliff) into a narrative with commentary. 

The expectant reader of Wuthering Heights won't find romantic scenes to thrill the heart in this novel, which has made its reputation among women readers. The hero is a disagreeable rogue, whose actions are motivated by revenge for past slights, chief of which was not to have won the woman he loved. Notwithstanding his undoubted abilities of perseverance and courage, he gives in to fretful brooding on the past, and plans his revenge on the world by winning the property of those he hated. But he derives little pleasure after compassing the end successfully. Instead he succumbs to a fatal fixation on the woman he lost long ago and desires to be united with in death, as he could not in life. In a ghoulish scene he goes mad and digs up the grave of Cathy to lie next to her in the sod. Here is Ch 29:
‘I’ll tell you what I did yesterday! I got the sexton, who was digging Linton’s grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there: when I saw her face again—it is hers yet!—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up: not Linton’s side, damn him! I wish he’d been soldered in lead. And I bribed the sexton to pull it away when I’m laid there, and slide mine out too; I’ll have it made so: and then by the time Linton gets to us he’ll not know which is which!’
‘You were very wicked, Mr. Heathcliff!’ I exclaimed; ‘were you not ashamed to disturb the dead?’
‘I disturbed nobody, Nelly,’ he replied; ‘and I gave some ease to myself. I shall be a great deal more comfortable now; and you’ll have a better chance of keeping me underground, when I get there. Disturbed her? No! she has disturbed me, night and day, through eighteen years—incessantly—remorselessly—till yesternight; and yesternight I was tranquil. I dreamt I was sleeping the last sleep by that sleeper, with my heart stopped and my cheek frozen against hers.’

The love scenes are not free of pain and sadness, characteristic of this book, and it is perhaps that which gives the tale a piquancy appealing to young women. Take the scene of their final meeting in Chapter 15:
Heathcliff, dear! you should not be sullen now. Do come to me, Heathcliff.’
In her eagerness she rose and supported herself on the arm of the chair. At that earnest appeal he turned to her, looking absolutely desperate. His eyes, wide and wet, at last flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder, and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive: in fact, to my eyes, she seemed directly insensible. He flung himself into the nearest seat, and on my approaching hurriedly to ascertain if she had fainted, he gnashed at me, and foamed like a mad dog, and gathered her to him with greedy jealousy. I did not feel as if I were in the company of a creature of my own species: it appeared that he would not understand, though I spoke to him; so I stood off, and held my tongue, in great perplexity.
A movement of Catherine’s relieved me a little presently: she put up her hand to clasp his neck, and bring her cheek to his as he held her; while he, in return, covering her with frantic caresses, said wildly—
‘You teach me now how cruel you’ve been—cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears: they’ll blight you—they’ll damn you. You loved me—then what right had you to leave me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?’
‘Let me alone. Let me alone,’ sobbed Catherine. ‘If I’ve done wrong, I’m dying for it. It is enough! You left me too: but I won’t upbraid you! I forgive you. Forgive me!’
‘It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,’ he answered. ‘Kiss me again; and don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer—but yours! How can I?’
They were silent-their faces hid against each other, and washed by each other’s tears. At least, I suppose the weeping was on both sides; as it seemed Heathcliff could weep on a great occasion like this.

The end comes to Heathcliff after a long-drawn out period of obsessive absorption with visions of Catherine, a period during which he passes on food and waves off the doctor in Ch 34:
’He solicited the society of no one more. At dusk he went into his chamber. Through the whole night, and far into the morning, we heard him groaning and murmuring to himself. Hareton was anxious to enter; but I bid him fetch Mr. Kenneth, and he should go in and see him. When he came, and I requested admittance and tried to open the door, I found it locked; and Heathcliff bid us be damned. He was better, and would be left alone; so the doctor went away.

Next day the householders led by Nelly force their way into his chamber
I peeped in. Mr. Heathcliff was there—laid on his back. His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile. I could not think him dead: but his face and throat were washed with rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was perfectly still. The lattice, flapping to and fro, had grazed one hand that rested on the sill; no blood trickled from the broken skin, and when I put my fingers to it, I could doubt no more: he was dead and stark!