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Archived Group Reads 2018 > Wuthering Heights - Week 4 -- Chapters XIX - XXVI

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Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
The good news is that no one died this week! The bad news is that we seem to have a couple of characters who are hanging in there by a thread! This week we meet Linton, son of Isabella and Heathcliff's short and ill-fated union. Linton seems to be a sick and weakly child, but he is welcomed to Thrushcross Grange by Edgar and Cathy Linton, who plan to cherish him back to health. Sadly, Heathcliff has no intention of allowing this to happen, and Joseph shows up that same day to take possession of the boy. Edgar is forced to relinquish his nephew, having no legal standing to keep him. It's a sad passage as we watch Nelly being forced to lie to Linton to get him to go to WH, and then his cruel reception by his father. From the very first sentence, we see what Linton has in store for him. Heathcliff refers to Linton as "his property," asking Nelly if she has "brought it." He asks Linton, "Thou art thy mother's child, entirely! Where is my share in thee, puling chicken?" This does not auger well for the delicate child. However, Heathcliff goes on to assure Nelly that abusing the boy does not suit his plans: he intends to rear Linton as a gentleman, and that "he shall be tended as carefully as your master tends his own." (161). He has created a comfortable environment for him, ordered the servants to respect and obey him (this includes Hareton), and has engaged a tutor to make sure he has a good education. His plan is for his son to be the master of both houses, and for the Lintons and Earnshaws to be dependent on his goodwill. Nelly reluctantly leaves Linton there.

Time passes, and Cathy is now 16. She grows up a happy, loving, and good-natured young girl. A chance encounter reacquaints her with her cousin, Linton, and they are delighted to be together again. This section is fascinating to me. Heathcliff not only reveals his nefarious goals, but we can also see history repeating itself. Heathcliff, suffering under Hindley's abuse all of those years, has obtained his revenge on him by turning Hindley's son, Hareton, into a carbon copy of Heathcliff. Hareton is an illiterate, ignorant servant on the estate that should have been his, by rights. He is despised by more refined people like Cathy and Linton, and fit only to interact with servants, while Heathcliff's son is the lord of the manor. Heathcliff explains the joy he takes in seeing Hareton in this position, although his satisfaction in his son's triumph is marred by his dislike of him. As this is going on, we see Cathy and Linton joining forces to humiliate Hareton's ignorance and brutishness (deja vu, anyone?).

Cathy refuses to stay away from her cousin, although her father forbids it. Her tender nature (and probably her loneliness and lack of friends) causes her to value even Linton's fretful, peevish society. She is caught, several times, and each time is forbidden to continue, but she apparently possesses some of her mother's stubbornness, for she persists. Finally, Edgar, in poor health himself, relents somewhat and allows the cousins to meet occasionally--only on Linton land and under the chaperonage of Nelly.

Through Cathy's revelations of her meetings with Linton, we deduce that he is not a particularly likable young man; even Nelly finds herself sympathizing with Heathcliff's dislike of him. He seems to completely lack Isabella's sparkle and spirit, and be annoyingly self-centered and whiny. When the cousins meet under Edgar's rules, they have not seen each other for six months, and it is glaringly apparent to Nelly that Linton's health is quickly failing. He also seems to be in terror of Heathcliff, who is apparently driving him beyond his strength in an effort to complete his grand scheme of revenge. In order for him to achieve his complete revenge, he needs for Linton and Cathy to marry.

My questions for this week: What do you think about Heathcliff's complete obsession with revenge on these two families? How chilling is Heathcliff's assessment of the results of his treatment of Hareton in Chapter XXI? What do you think of young Linton? Is your heart not completely wrung for poor Hareton? And are you not really liking Edgar Linton by the end of this section? And do you not think that, in his own quiet way, he loved Catherine every bit as much as Heathcliff? And did anyone miss Nelly trying to Match.com Cathy and Mr. Lockwood??

Please share your thoughts and questions from the reading section with us!


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Cindy wrote: "we watch Nelly being forced to lie to Linton to get him to go to WH"

It was common, before, to lie to children or not to talk to them about certain things. Adults thought they could not understand. Adults didn't know how to speak to children in a simple language, within their reach.
Children can endure many more things than adults think and can handle themselves. One will have the proof of this with the son of Hindley later in the book.

So Nelly does what any adult would have done: she lies to Linton. This is the worst thing to do to this child in this particuliar situation. This child arrives in WH like an alien from another planet would have landed on earth, and no one gives him the slightest clue about what awaits him, who the people he is going to live with are, how to behave in order to survive in this hostile environment. I mean, this sickly and weackly Linton arriving at WH, it would be like me, thrown all naked in the jungle! Don't come back to pick me up the next, I would be dead! :D

If Nelly and Edgar wanted to give a little chance to Linton to survive, they should have tell him:
"Ok, your father is a wild man, he's sick with love and anger, no one can change him, but you'll have to live with him, no one can change this fact too. This is going to be your life from now on. You'll have to fight to survive, you're stronger than what you think, find a way to deal with what your life is going to be the next years, and when you'll be an adult, you'll be able to choose what you want to do with your life, because having survive to your teenage years will have helped you, you'll have make you stronger."
Unfortunatly for the boy, some children have to fight early, but at least Linton would have been warned he had to, instead of maybe imagining someone would come to rescue him.


Nina Clare | 135 comments Heathcliff's obsessive revenge is extreme to the point of sociopathy.
I was relieved that he had determined to look after Linton and not treat him brutally. But even in this he is motivated by his schemes of revenge, and despite his physical provision for Linton, he does not meet his emotional or social needs, nor provides any medical treatment for him as his health worsens. Thus he abuses him indirectly.

I wonder that Heathcliff doesn't feel any interest in young Cathy for her mother's sake, especially as she has her mother's name and eyes. If anyone could have softened him, I would have thought she might, but clearly he is beyond all reach.

I don't much like Linton, though I pity him. I don't understand Cathy's intense interest in him, though, as Cindy says, her loneliness causes her to value even Linton's society. Why oh why did not Cathy's father ensure that his daughter had some social life in the neighbourhood beyond, or send her away to school or take her travelling!! he had the money to do so. I think he has neglected her in this respect.

I did notice Nelly's little attempt to matchmake Cathy and Mr Lockwood!


Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments Heathcliff is thoroughly described as a beast - it is so exaggerated and masochistic that I begin to think that it was maybe more what readers of that time liked - something sensational - rather than what readers nowadays enjoy.

He will not benefit from the revenge, he is just suffering more and more being the beast that he is.


message 5: by Clarissa (last edited Jul 09, 2018 08:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Charlotte wrote: "Heathcliff is thoroughly described as a beast - it is so exaggerated and masochistic that I begin to think that it was maybe more what readers of that time liked - something sensational - rather than what readers nowadays enjoy. ..."

It is possible to read the exaggeration as part of the narrative device to make it clear how the people telling the story are judging and demonising him. Heathcliff is so problematic in their society, he is a landowner so should be respected, but he is literally of unknown origins. He was initially adopted by a well to do family and then rejected by the heir and turned into a field hand. I'm not sure if I've seen it discussed yet (sorry if I missed it) but there is also a few hints in the narrative here and there that he might be darker skinned.
In this reading, Bronte is subtly drawing attention to how outsiders are treated and seen more as animals than people. And Heathcliff perhaps responds by being a hellhound to everyone except for Cathy who is the one person who always saw him as a full human being.

Another way of looking at the sensationalism is how Emily Bronte is playing with the Gothic tropes that were once popular. For example, normally an innocent young girl is kidnapped and taken to an isolated place by an experienced man who wants to trick her into his bed and she usually needs to be rescued by another man. In this section, the innocent is a male, Linton who is claimed by his father and lied to by Nelly. But then he turns out to be not so innocent, he is so mean that his captor doesn't even want him anymore. And the one who comes to his rescue is a female, Catherine, but it turns out she is in turn being lured by her kind nature into Linton's bed. It is layer upon layer.

On your point about reading tastes, here's a link I've found to contemporary reviews:
https://www.wuthering-heights.co.uk/w...

I think there was outrage that a woman could create such a book because there is such passionate and violent characters in it, and literature critics have generally felt that the novel has been more appreciated over time as societal's view towards gender equality has progressed.


Brittany (Lady Red) (ladyred19) | 152 comments I agree he’s definitely either Romany or perhaps mixed race. It’s interesting that the father doesn’t seem to care about this, he seems in a sense to view Heathcliff as an extension of himself, as Cathy does, although in a different way.


message 7: by Charlotte (last edited Jul 09, 2018 07:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments I am a bit too sensitive for this part of the story. Heathcliff is so scary and reminds me of all the evil people I hear about in the news.

Do you enjoy all the horror? (/or Brontë’s description of the horror?)

Maybe the new movie coming out later this year is actually a horror-movie, as they say it is... :)


Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Charlotte wrote: "Do you enjoy all the horror? (/or Brontë’s description ..."

To be honest, I am generally really wimpy about anything gruesome or horrific, though I am getting better....I watched 'Alien' this year for the first time, yay brave me!
But I like the courage of a Victorian woman being so true to her vision and writing so brutally and I think it works within this rough world which is removed from normal society. Their every day lives seem to be about work and survival and just getting on with things, compared to the balls and societal maneuverings you see in other Victorian novels.
It reminds me of King Lear on the moor, human nature laid out at its barest without any ornamentation.


Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Brittany wrote: "I agree he’s definitely either Romany or perhaps mixed race. It’s interesting that the father doesn’t seem to care about this, he seems in a sense to view Heathcliff as an extension of himself, as ..."

The fact that he's found in Liverpool links with this as it was the port the slave ships went through (if I am, cross fingers, getting my history right!) If we read him as mixed race, it makes the way Mr Earnshaw and Cathy accept him even more amazing, and would be another way that the bond with Cathy is so exceptionally powerful for him. But does it mean Isabella's attraction to him is some sort of orientalism, idolising the other and thinking of him as a 'noble savage'?
And it also gives another layer to Hindley's jealousy that he's been raised with Heathcliff as a kind of brother.


message 10: by Nina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nina Clare | 135 comments Clari wrote: "Another way of looking at the sensationalism is how Emily Bronte is playing with the Gothic tropes that were once popular."

Bronte's use of Gothic tropes is interesting. I found some definitions of Gothic devices, and they certainly fit WH perfectly:

"The Gothic world is fascinated by violent differences in power, and its stories are full of constraint, entrapment and forced actions. Scenes of extreme threat and isolation – either physical or psychological – are always happening or about to happen. A young woman in danger, such as the orphan Emily St Aubert in Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) or Lucy Westenra in Dracula, is often at the centre of Gothic fiction. Against such vulnerable women are set the great criminals or transgressors, such as the villainous Montoni in The Mysteries of Udolpho or Count Dracula. Cursed, obscene or satanic, they seem able to break norms, laws and taboos at will.
"https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victo...#



Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Nina wrote: "The Gothic world is fascinated by violent differences in power, and its stories are full of constraint, entrapment and forced actions. Scenes of extreme threat and isolation – either physical or psychological – are always happening or about to happen..."

That's a great definition, and it is really interesting to think about how the power relations between the characters work, who is being entrapped and who is acting out of free will?


message 12: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 423 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "I wonder that Heathcliff doesn't feel any interest in young Cathy for her mother's sake, especially as she has her mother's name and eyes. If anyone could have softened him, I would have thought she might, but clearly he is beyond all reach...."

I wondered the same thing! My guess is that
1. she must favor Edgar more than her mother, or
2. even though she is Catherine's daughter, she is a physical reminder that Catherine rejected him and chose someone else, or maybe,
3. He might also, like some men did, blame the child for the death of the mother. Her birth represents Catherine's death.

Those are just some of my theories! ;)


message 13: by Renee, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Renee M | 1995 comments Mod
Clari wrote: "Charlotte wrote: "Do you enjoy all the horror? (/or Brontë’s description ..."

To be honest, I am generally really wimpy about anything gruesome or horrific, though I am getting better....I watched..."


I love this comment!


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