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Archived Group Reads 2018 > Wuthering Heights - Week 2 -- Chapters VIII - XII

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message 1: by Cindy, Moderator (last edited Jun 17, 2018 10:45PM) (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Wow! This section reminded me of why I love this book! So many thematic topics introduced in this next segment. In Chapter VIII, Hindley's wife presents him with a son and heir, but the unfortunate lady dies while the child is still an infant. Hindley's grief drives him to drink and his bitterness and rage against fate cause him to become increasingly erratic and tyrannical. His hatred and abuse of Heathcliff continue, causing Heathcliff to lose whatever vestiges of education and civilization he had acquired under old Mr. Earnshaw's patronage.

Cathy's relationship with the Lintons endures, and Nelly attributes this to the infrequency of their encounters. Trying to maintain her friendship with the Lintons and her relationship with Heathcliff proves to be a delicate balancing act for Cathy. One represents civilization and refinement, comfort and luxury, while the other is rough and crude, but also unrestrained and passionate. How can she choose? Eventually, the choice is made for her. Edgar pops the question and even though Cathy accepts his proposal, she is not convinced it is the best choice. As she ponders the pros and cons of the situation aloud to Nelly, she is unaware that Heathcliff is listening in the shadows. Upon hearing her decision, he silently leaves and is gone for three years.

During that time, Cathy marries Edgar and they settle into wedded bliss at Thrushcross Grange. Nelly reluctantly leaves her nurseling, Hareton, to his father's unreliable care and becomes the housekeeper for the young couple. All is fine until Heathcliff suddenly reappears--a handsome, well-groomed Heathcliff. Cathy is elated to be reunited with her childhood companion, while her husband Edgar is a little less so. Cathy overrides Edgar's reservations until it is brought to his attention that Heathcliff may have intentions toward Edgar's sister, Isabella. At this news, Edgar is roused to ire and bans Heathcliff from his home. He then demands that Cathy choose between her husband or Heathcliff. Enraged, she locks herself in her room and refuses all food for three days. At the end of that time, Nelly finally gains entrance to Cathy's room and discovers that her mistress seems to really be ill. During the tumult of the doctor's visit and concern over Cathy, it escapes notice that Isabella has disappeared. A serving-girl announces that Isabella has eloped with Heathcliff the next day, and Edgar takes the news stoically, merely recommending Nelly to send Isabella's belongings to wherever she intends to live with her new husband.

Some questions I thought worth exploring:

1. There has already been discussion about Nelly's role as narrator. Has your opinion about her objectivity and reliability changed?
2. How does her attitude toward Hindley and Cathy differ? She refers to herself as a foster sister to Hindley, which would apply to Cathy as well. How does her response to their behavior differ?
3. Nelly goes from narrating the story as an observer of events to being an active participant. How does she influence the trajectory of events in this section? Do you agree with the choices she makes?
4. What is your opinion of Heathcliff at this point? On the one hand, we have the description of the abuse he suffers at Hindley's hands and his rejection by Cathy; on the other, we have the disturbing thoughts he entertains for revenge. Do you sympathize and feel that he is justified, or do you feel that such thoughts are indicative of a truly evil nature?
5. In her conversation with Nelly, Cathy lists her reasons for entertaining Edgar's suit. She also defines her relationship with Heathcliff. Given the context of the society at the time, do you think she made the right choice? If she had chosen Heathcliff, what would that have looked like?
6. Fed up with Edgar and Heathcliff's antipathy toward each other, Cathy states that if they try to force her to choose between them, "I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own," (92). How is this similar to Heathcliff's reaction to Hindley's mistreatment?

Please share any thoughts or reactions you have to the reading--we'd love to hear them!


Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Catherine and Heathcliff.

The other persons are attracted to one another, but how about poor Nelly? We never know about her innermost feelings.

At one point of time she encourages and admires the love between Heathcliff and Catherine.

Neither Nelly nor Catherine inform Heathcliff that she married Edgar as part of a plan to save her relationship with Heathcliff. He only heard that she would marry Edgar and not that she loved him. This is the reason for the disaster and Heathcliff’s abuse.

There is no description of how and why Catherine and Isabel love Heathcliff. Are they attracted to his bad boy personality?

Am I right? Perhaps I did not get all the details right, so do not hesitate to contradict me!


Nina Clare | 135 comments Cindy wrote: "
1. There has already been discussion about Nelly's role as narrator. Has your opinion about her objectivity and reliability changed?

I still like Nelly and trust her as a narrator. She seems to be the only character who responds with normalcy to the goings on at WH. She is motherly towards Hareton, she refuses to be intimidated by Mr Earnshaw, even when he's drunk and violent; I agree with her opinion that Cathy as a young woman is arrogant and not likable.

Neither Cathy or Heathcliff are likable characters at this stage, but then I remind myself how young they still are - Cathy 15 and H. 16 - teenagers, full of angst and heightened emotions, so I can still feel some sympathy at this stage for them both.



Nina Clare | 135 comments Cindy wrote:
What is your opinion of Heathcliff at this point? On the one hand, we have the description of the abuse he suffers at Hindley's hands and his rejection by Cathy; on the other, we have the disturbing thoughts he entertains for revenge. Do you sympathize and feel that he is justified, or do you feel that such thoughts are indicative of a truly evil nature?

Heathcliff has returned 3 years later, so Cathy is now 18 and he is 19, but all my sympathy for him is now gone - he seems vicious, full of violence and hatred. I think Cathy speaks accurately when she warns Isabella; "Pray don't imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! He's not a rough diamond-a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he's a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man." Heathcliff's assertion that he would beat Isabella every day or two if he should ever live with her is chilling. If he means what he says then his thoughts are indicative of an evil nature.



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Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
I feel that Nelly may be a little biased in Hindley's favor. When she observes that "the servants could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct for long," she explains her own tolerance by reminding the reader that she "had been his foster sister, and excused his behavior more readily than a stranger would," (51). This forbearance seems lacking when Nelly is talking about Cathy's bad behavior. Nelly admits that she "did not like her after her infancy was past" and she "vexed her frequently by trying to bring down her arrogance." This, despite Nelly's admission that Cathy "never took an aversion to her" and "had a wondrous constancy to old attachments," (52.

So Hindley and Cathy both behave badly--A LOT--but Nelly makes excuses for Hindley while condemning Cathy. She dislikes her even while acknowledging that Cathy has always remained loyal to her.


Nina Clare | 135 comments Cindy wrote: "I feel that Nelly may be a little biased in Hindley's favor. When she observes that "the servants could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct for long," she explains her own tolerance by remindi..."

I hadn't thought about it, but I suppose that is true - Nelly does make more allowances for Hindley than Cathy.


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Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "I hadn't thought about it, but I suppose that is true - Nelly does make more allowances for Hindley than Cathy...."

You have a good point about Nelly's normalcy. Even though she basically grew up in the Earnshaw household, having a somewhat sibling relationship with Hindley and Cathy, she seems to have escaped the demons that torture them. She appears to be relatively normal and does provide a more mainstream perspective of the action. She is also the one person who seems capable of giving the baby Hareton the loving, constant care a child needs.


message 8: by SherryRose (last edited Jun 21, 2018 06:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

SherryRose | 68 comments Hi Cindy. I thought Nelly was stretching the truth when she said she had no fear when Hindley had the knife in her mouth. He was saying he wanted to kill someone and terrified poor Hareton by holding him up at the top of the stairs and nearly killed him when the poor thing flew out of his grip. Her bias showed when she said if it were dark, Heathcliff would have smashed the little boy’s head in after catching him. She doesn’t know that. She assumed it. Whereas Hareton was yelling that he was going to kill. She dismissed that verbal threat and assumed that Heathcliff actually wanted to kill Hareton.

And off topic, right after this incident, Cathy calls Nelly into her room to get advice about her engagement to Edgar. She ever asked how the baby was or how Nelly was for that matter. This shows her complete narcissism. Nothing exists unless it pertains to herself.


message 9: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 918 comments Mod
I always felt Nelly is partial to Hindley. She sort of thought him as an ally. I do not think she liked Cathy much, although I wouldn't blame her. Cathy is moody, manipulative and self centered from the very beginning.

As for Heathcliff, he goes through all abusive treatment of Hindley because of his love for Cathy and because he wants to be near her. And when Cathy favours Edgar, the anchor which kept him on solid ground is lifted. That is when he becomes wild and revengeful. The question is can we really blame him? He never received much love and kindness. There were no one to properly guide him. Cathy and and Nelly were the only two people who at least treated him as a human.


Laurene | 163 comments First of all I love reading everyone's comments. Wish there was a like button for comments. (I think I have made that comment before).

I think Nelly has been a reliable narrator up to this point but something has changed. Nelly has been raising Hareton since his birth. But when Hindley is dangling Hareton from the staircase -- her attitude to Hindley should have changed at that moment. Nothing is really made over this incident. Heathcliff catches Hareton and saves his life. This was treated as just an incident. Oh -- Hindley was just drunk and he did not know what he was doing so let's move on.. At that point, everything should have changed. I remember reading this the first time, Heathcliff saves Hareton's life. Heathcliff has become a hero. But no one treats Heathcliff any different.

The way Heathcliff has been treated in the Evenshaw household is abominably abusive. Mr. Evenshaw brought Heathcliff into the household, and I can understand the kids reactions -- but was Heathcliff legally adopted or did adoptions exist doing this time period? I can understand Heathcliff's reactions. He has had no one to teach him any different. Cathy has been around but she is a child herself.

Happy Reading everyone!


message 11: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Sherry wrote: "I thought Nelly was stretching the truth when she said she had no fear when Hindley had the knife in her mouth. He was saying he wanted to kill someone and terrified poor Hareton by holding him up at the top of the stairs and nearly killed him when the poor thing flew out of his grip...."

Exactly! I mean, yes, Cathy sounds like a high-maintenance diva, but how can you prefer the guy who shoves a knife in your mouth and dangles a toddler from the top of the stairs? I do think those actions might be worse than a little arrogance! Nelly makes a big deal about Cathy pinching her and excuses Hindley shoving a KNIFE in her mouth! Seriously?


SherryRose | 68 comments Laurene wrote: "First of all I love reading everyone's comments. Wish there was a like button for comments. (I think I have made that comment before).

I think Nelly has been a reliable narrator up to this point b..."


I agree about attitudes towards Heathcliff and Hindley. Nelly is blindly prejudiced in favor of Hindley. Most people would feel very negatively towards an abusive drunk who admits to nearly drowning a servant, threatening Nelly with a knife, and nearly killing his own son. He’s horribly abusive to Hareton as it is. Nelly has to hide him in the cupboard. He’s cruel and ugly and bitter. Heathcliff at this stage isn’t that bad. He’s enjoying Hindley’s self destruction but so far he hasn’t done anything wrong. As you say, he saved the baby’s life which is a heroic act and it goes unnoticed. In fact, Nelly assumes Heathcliff wanted to kill him.


message 13: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Laurene wrote: "The way Heathcliff has been treated in the Evenshaw household is abominably abusive. Mr. Evenshaw brought Heathcliff into the household, and I can understand the kids reactions..."

That's what I love about this book--Hindley behaves abominably, Cathy behaves abominably, Heathcliff behaves abominably, but you can understand, to a point, WHY they are behaving this way. Each of them has had traumatic events that have led them to these actions.


SherryRose | 68 comments Cindy wrote: "Nina wrote: "I hadn't thought about it, but I suppose that is true - Nelly does make more allowances for Hindley than Cathy...."

You have a good point about Nelly's normalcy. Even though she basic..."


She isn’t blood related. They all seem a touch insane. I know Heathcliff isn’t blood related either and at this point he’s almost stable. He’s enjoying Hindley’s downward spiral but so far he’s not too bad. He’s hurting. Maybe Nelly is actually sane because she’s wired differently. Odd thing about Nelly, we don’t have any idea where she came from. Unless I missed something.


SherryRose | 68 comments Cindy wrote: "Laurene wrote: "The way Heathcliff has been treated in the Evenshaw household is abominably abusive. Mr. Evenshaw brought Heathcliff into the household, and I can understand the kids reactions..."
..."


So true! Emily Bronte had a good handle on the psychology of the characters. They don’t have to be lovable to be fascinating.


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Renee M | 2038 comments Mod
I wish I knew more about the Brontes. I’ve gathered that the brother was a very dark sort of person, yet it seems much more was made of him than his talented sisters. I have to wonder if Nelly’s attitude comes from a very familiar source.

I didn’t remember Hindley being quite so dangerous. Or hanging around in the story for quite so long. I remembered his resentment of Heathcliff and cruelty towards him, his depression after the death of his bride, but not much else. This time round, he much more interesting, if repugnant character.

I wonder if it’s Heathcliff’s passion, more than his personality, which is the draw. Plus, I think he could be roughly charming when he wanted. (As with a Isabella) It seems to me their lives were very isolated and kinda boring out where they lived.


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Renee M | 2038 comments Mod
Also, this section of the book makes me think of Hardy’s Return of the Native for some reason.


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Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Never underestimate the appeal of the bad boy—especially the hot bad boy! 😁


message 19: by Renee, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Renee M | 2038 comments Mod
Hahahaha! I’ll take your word for it. ;-)


Inkspill (runinkspill) Charlotte wrote: "To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Catherine and ... Am I right? Perhaps I did not get all the details right, so do not hesitate to contradict me!"

I thought this too about Nelly.
And was wondering what is it about Heathcliff that draws Catherine and Isabel to him.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Charlotte wrote: "To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Catherine and Heathcl..."

Yes, Nelly is an instrument for the narration, but as I said in my comment 26 on week 1:
The relationships between a maid like Nelly and the family members in which she works were very complex.
We see that when she was too small to work, she had almost the same life as the children of the family: she played with them like a friend. It is only as she grows up that she realizes that finally she is at their service.
The place of a person like Nelly both involved and detached is very delicate. You can't live so close to people and be be totally indifferent to their happiness or misfortune. On the other hand, you do not have to give your opinion or an advice, even if you know they are wrong: Nelly can be fired at anytime.

You say: "her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Catherine and Heathcliff."
I think Nelly likes Catherine and Heathcliff, but as in real life, it's not because you like or love someone that you agree with all he does or think: people can make mistakes, or what you think is a mistakes, and you still like them.

You wonder if Catherine and Isabelle are attracted to Heathcliff's bad boy personality.
I think they are. Even Heathcliff says once to Catherine, in front of Isabelle, that he's not a kind of "novel's bad boy", or something like this. He adds that he's a real devil. This means he knows exactly that Isabelle is attracted by his " charming bad boy personality".

This said, we can understand that young ladies like Isabelle, who lived their life protected of everything and everyone were attracted by such men: it's in human nature to seek the thrill; the thrill can be fear, a great love, or even risk; some jump from the top of a building, some try to drive their bicycles without hands, some love a dangerous man, some cook a wedding cake without having never cooked a simple cake before!
For Isabelle, to love Heathcliff, and most of all to be loved by him, means: to conquer the wild beast; Isabelle would prove to herself that she is stronger than she thinks, stronger than the society believes she is, society which has placed her in the role of a fragile and incapable young girl.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Nina wrote: "Neither Cathy or Heathcliff are likable characters at this stage, but then I remind myself how young they still are - Cathy 15 and H. 16 - teenagers, full of angst and heightened emotions, so I can still feel some sympathy at this stage for them both"

I absolutly agree, Nina. There's often no grey in teenagers life; everything is black or white. I also understand that Nelly keeps liking both of them. If you had to stop loving our teenagers when they are too angry or too lazy or too sharp, all parents would give up! :D


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Nina wrote: " Heathcliff's assertion that he would beat Isabella every day or two if he should ever live with her is chilling. If he means what he says then his thoughts are indicative of an evil nature."

I don't totally agree. Heatcliff is a very strong personality, too strong for all the charcters around him, except Catherine.I like to think that when he says he would beat Isabelle, it's to warn her against him. It's maybe also to tell Catherine: "I would never have hurt you, because you're different from all the other, because I love you."


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Cindy wrote: "I feel that Nelly may be a little biased in Hindley's favor."

We can understand that Nelly's tolerance towards Hindley: it is difficult to deny a "brother" because he has rushed the wrong way. And also, Nelly knew him when he was a kind kid, she knows he's not totally bad, and she maybe hopes he'll get her reason back.

And for these reasons, I think that's why she's tough on Catherine: Nelly is maybe scared that Catherine could turn into a bad person like Hindley has? And when Nelly says that Cathy "never took an aversion to her" and "had a wondrous constancy to old attachments,", this proves that Nelly recognizes the qualities of Cathy, because the girl knows how to recognize when a person like Nelly tells her what is right or wrong with her. So for me, Nelly likes Cathy.


message 25: by Gabrielle (last edited Jun 24, 2018 06:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Sherry wrote: "Hi Cindy. I thought Nelly was stretching the truth when she said she had no fear when Hindley had the knife in her mouth. He was saying he wanted to kill someone and terrified poor Hareton by holdi..."

Nelly knows that Hindley talks a lot but does not a lot: drunkers, maybe, are weak persons, that's why they drink, to escape their own life, to not face reality.
But Heathcliff is strong, so when he says he would have let the baby die by falling from the stairs, maybe Nelly is allowed to believe him. This said: their was only one baby in the house, and Heathcliff knew who he was. If he catched him and saved his life in a reflex, it's because deeply, he's not a devil.

You write: Cathy calls Nelly into her room to get advice about her engagement to Edgar. She ever asked how the baby was or how Nelly was for that matter. This shows her complete narcissism. Nothing exists unless it pertains to herself.
I was also shoked by this. But then I thought: It's useless to argue with lunatics, and Hindley, when he is drunk, is like a madman. As for the baby, he is in the care of Nelly. Cathy could not do better. I understand her: when you're in a house of madness and chaos, the first thing you have to do is to try to get out of it, is vital.

What we have to remember is that all these characters were children that no one really cared for. They grew more or less like wild plants or bad seeds; and what does a wild plant do? She pushes others to make a place for herself in the sun, to survive.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Piyangie
I agree with you about Heathcliff.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Laurene wrote: "I think Nelly has been a reliable narrator up to this point but something has changed. Nelly has been raising Hareton since his birth. But when Hindley is dangling Hareton from the staircase -- her attitude to Hindley should have changed at that moment."

Human feelings are inextricable.

What could Nelly have done? If she had said to Hindley he was wrong, she could have been fired, and who would have protected the poor newborn baby?

Could she have treated Heathcliff as a hero because he saved the baby, although he said he should have let him die?


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Cindy wrote: "Nelly makes a big deal about Cathy pinching her and excuses Hindley shoving a KNIFE in her mouth!"

I explain what I think about this in message 25.
But I would add: maybe Nelly, who was certainly shoked, was expecting Cathy to help her or to ask her about what had happened?

I wonder, about this, if the situation inside a house like Wuthering can be compared to the life in a peaceful country were everyone keeps on living wondering which dress we're going to wear for a cousin's wedding, as war is killing children in other countries...
What can Cathy do against her drunk brother, the head of the family, of the house, the one who decides everything and who has all the powers? Nothing, I guess.
So she closes her eyes and ears, and try to make herself a decent life, like we do in our peaceful countries.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Sherry wrote: "Emily Bronte had a good handle on the psychology of the characters. They don’t have to be lovable to be fascinating"
I agree.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Cindy wrote: "Never underestimate the appeal of the bad boy—especially the hot bad boy! 😁"
Renee wrote: "Hahahaha! I’ll take your word for it. ;-)"

Ah! Ladies! Here are finally revealed your true personalities! ;)


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Inkspill wrote: "I was wondering what is it about Heathcliff that draws Catherine and Isabel to him."

Ah, ah! Ask Cindy and Renee! :D


message 32: by SherryRose (last edited Jun 24, 2018 08:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

SherryRose | 68 comments Gabrielle wrote: "Charlotte wrote: "To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Cat..."

I think living in isolation made Isabella very naive. She probably read romance books and thought she could tame the bad boy. She also probably thought Heathcliff loved her. He wants to use her. There’s nothing redeemable in Heathcliff. He has no feelings for Isabella and his motives are self serving. I hate to stereotype my own sex but sometimes women think they can change men. It’s not possible to do that. Especially with a vengeful and angry man like Heathcliff. He’s not a poor little boy in need of healing. His bitterness is becoming who he is. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t consider hurting poor Isabella as a means to an end. The only way to find inner love within a hard shell is if it exists. Isabella thinks there is a soft core in Heathcliff but he probably feels contempt for her. She’s Edgars sister. We know how he feels about him!

As for Catherine, she has known Heathcliff since childhood and she and he are kindred spirits. It’s not about the bad boy I don’t think. She and he have had fun together growing up. There was a good side to him then. I actually think she loves that part of him. Sadly, the young fun loving side of Heathcliff is gone. She’s angry in her own right. She told Nelly she’s afraid of being alone. She married a man she doesn’t love and verbally demeans him. He’s weak and not very masculine.

Maybe their attraction is about bringing those days of dreaming and joyful playing back in some way. No one has ever made him or her that happy since.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Sherry
Yes, I agree, Sherry.


SherryRose | 68 comments Gabrielle wrote: "Cindy wrote: "Nelly makes a big deal about Cathy pinching her and excuses Hindley shoving a KNIFE in her mouth!"

I explain what I think about this in message 25.
But I would add: maybe Nelly, who ..."


That makes sense. How else can she protect herself in such a dysfunctional home in isolation?


Laurene | 163 comments Cindy wrote: "Laurene wrote: "The way Heathcliff has been treated in the Evenshaw household is abominably abusive. Mr. Evenshaw brought Heathcliff into the household, and I can understand the kids reactions..."
..."


Completely agree -- Hindley has suffered the lost of his wife --Cathy is married to Edgar, he has money and status -- Heathcliff loses Cathy to Edgar and he heard Cathy comments that it "would degrade her to marry him". Heathcliff disappears for three years because he overheard a part of a conversation.


Laurene | 163 comments Sherry wrote: "Cindy wrote: "Nina wrote: "I hadn't thought about it, but I suppose that is true - Nelly does make more allowances for Hindley than Cathy...."

You have a good point about Nelly's normalcy. Even th..."


The only thing, I think, we know about Nelly is that she grew up with Hindley, Cathy and Heathcliff.


Laurene | 163 comments Sherry wrote: "Cindy wrote: "Laurene wrote: "The way Heathcliff has been treated in the Evenshaw household is abominably abusive. Mr. Evenshaw brought Heathcliff into the household, and I can understand the kids ..."

Absolutely love your comment!


Laurene | 163 comments Cindy wrote: "Never underestimate the appeal of the bad boy—especially the hot bad boy! 😁"

;)


Laurene | 163 comments Inkspill wrote: "Charlotte wrote: "To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Cat..."

Inkspill wrote: "Charlotte wrote: "To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Cat..."

I think Cindy 100% correct -- the appeal for "the hot bad boy".


Laurene | 163 comments Gabrielle wrote: "Charlotte wrote: "To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she likes or dislikes Cat..."

I think Isabella sees Heathcliff as someone who will rescue her from her brother's, Edgar, control. Instead of the white knight -- Heathcliff is the black knight.


message 41: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Gabrielle wrote: "The place of a person like Nelly both involved and detached is very delicate. You can't live so close to people and be be totally indifferent to their happiness or misfortune. On the other hand, you do not have to give your opinion or an advice, even if you know they are wrong: Nelly can be fired at anytime...."

I agree. We saw this on Downton Abbey (if you watched it)! The servants are basically living their lives among their employers, sharing many of their life experiences, observing basically all of their decisions and the consequences. The servants' lives are also affected by these decisions, so they can't remain detached from them. Living in such close proximity, it's impossible to remain completely emotionally detached, as well, but like you observed, Gabrielle, the servants are not at liberty to express their emotions or opinions.

We see Nelly go from being Hindley's and Cathy's playmate and foster sibling to being their servant. I think, though, that she carries those emotions with her from one position to the other. As their servant, she does have to watch herself because she can be fired, but we have to remember that she is now telling this story from the vantage point of hindsight. She is quite frank about her partiality for Hindley and her dislike of Catherine. She is still making excuses for Hindley's behavior and condemning Cathy's--and they are both dead. Those remarks are made directly to Mr. Lockwood in the present time, as a way of explaining to him her past actions. Now that both of them have passed away, she is able to verbalize her feelings without fear of reprisal.

What we have to remember is that all these characters were children that no one really cared for. They grew more or less like wild plants or bad seeds; and what does a wild plant do? She pushes others to make a place for herself in the sun, to survive.

I love this comparison--wild plants or bad seeds!! This is exactly what they were like. They're left with no parents at a terribly young age, and their family had been dysfunctional even before Mr. Earnshaw's death. I think Cathy's single-mindedness about her own needs is definitely a survival instinct. There's certainly no one else looking out for her! Again, each of these characters has valid reasons for their bad behavior--although each also seems to take it to the extreme.


Laurene | 163 comments Gabrielle wrote: "Nina wrote: " Heathcliff's assertion that he would beat Isabella every day or two if he should ever live with her is chilling. If he means what he says then his thoughts are indicative of an evil n..."

Oh -- I thought he meant he would beat Isabella because Isabella is "her brother's heir".


Laurene | 163 comments Gabrielle wrote: "Sherry wrote: "Hi Cindy. I thought Nelly was stretching the truth when she said she had no fear when Hindley had the knife in her mouth. He was saying he wanted to kill someone and terrified poor H..."

Love this comment!


Laurene | 163 comments Gabrielle wrote: "Laurene wrote: "I think Nelly has been a reliable narrator up to this point but something has changed. Nelly has been raising Hareton since his birth. But when Hindley is dangling Hareton from the ..."

You are right -- Nelly does not have a choice -- she is now only a servant. I think Heathcliff said he should have let Hareton die was for Hindley to hear the comment.


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Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Laurene wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Nina wrote: " Heathcliff's assertion that he would beat Isabella every day or two if he should ever live with her is chilling. If he means what he says then his thoughts are indic..."

I think Heathcliff despises Isabella for multiple reasons. One, she is Edgar's sister and therefore closely related to his enemy. Two, she is a well-brought-up young lady. He loves Cathy for her wild, tempestuous nature, and this is lacking in Isabella. Heathcliff feels nothing but contempt for society manners and "acceptable" behavior. He believes that Isabella is shallow and frivolous, lacking Cathy's fire and depth.


SherryRose | 68 comments I think so too Cindy. I also agree with Laurene that Isabella was trying to escape Edgar’s control by going with Heathcliff. And the white knight was a dark knight instead. Isabella was so pitiful.


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Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Sherry wrote: "I think so too Cindy. I also agree with Laurene that Isabella was trying to escape Edgar’s control by going with Heathcliff. And the white knight was a dark knight instead. Isabella was so pitiful."

I don't know how much was about escaping Edgar because it seems like they have a loving relationship (until Heathcliff happens, that is). I think it may have had more to do with just wanting to get on to the next stage of her life. She sees Edgar and Cathy living happily, but what is Isabella's future? It's only normal for a young teenage girl in her position to think about her marriage--that is really the only future that is acceptable for a girl at that time. There is no mention in the book of other families of their social station in the neighborhood. There is no mention of plans to take Isabella to London for a proper debut into society. What other young men of marriageable age does she know? Also, this lack of outside male society does not help her become a good judge of character. Having known no other men besides her father and brother, both loving and protective, I think Isabella has a hard time comprehending the truth of Heathcliff's statements to her. She has to attribute that core of masculine chivalry to him; she doesn't know anything else. And yes, her romantic, impulsive decision has far-reaching and terrible consequences.


SherryRose | 68 comments All true. I can’t imagine living in such isolation. Isabella is an innocent in all of this. Heathcliff has been out in the world for awhile. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Poor Isabella.


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Nina Clare | 135 comments Sherry wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Charlotte wrote: "To me, Nelly seems like an instrument for the narration, but I think her sympathies move back and forth and I think it is difficult to understand whether she lik..."

Gabrielle wrote: "Sherry
Yes, I agree, Sherry."


I agree too, Sherry. And thinking about Cathy and Heathcliff as children and the bond they had during such a difficult childhood makes me feel some sympathy towards them, though they are both growing into such bitter, hard adults that my sympathy is waning. I want them to change for the good, but I'm not optomistic.


Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments Cindy wrote: I think Heathcliff despises Isabella for multiple reasons. One, she is Edgar's sister and therefore closely related to his enemy. Two, she is a well-brought-up young lady. He loves Cathy for her wild, tempestuous nature, and this is lacking in Isabella..."

Perhaps I am reading too much into the story, but I sense that every time Heathcliff faces Isabella, he thinks about Catherine and is bitter that it isn’t she who is his wife and that makes him even more evil.


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