Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wuthering Wednesday: Chapters 27-34

This concludes the Book Club of Two's November reread of Wuthering Heights. Head over to TheLibrarian's blog today to see her answers and LindszerWest's.

To catch up on all the juicy Book Club of Two Discussions:

Week One: Chapters 1-8
Week Two: Chapters 9-17
Week Three: Chapters 18-26

The Librarian Asks... and I answer:

1. We've oft discussed Nelly Dean. In this section of our read, Zillah, the housekeeper of the Heights, gives us her take on the role of a servant in a household: 

" was no concern of mine either to advise or complain, and I always refused to meddle." (329, Barnes and Noble Classic ed.)

Do you think Bronte is giving us her opinion of how Nelly Dean handles a household? And/or Why set Zillah up as a perfect opposite to our narrator Nelly?

I smiled when I came across this in the reading. To me, it seemed more evidence of Bronte's sense of humor than anything. She is making sure the reader knows that our Nelly has meddled in this story, and is offering Zillah's "proper servant behavior" as a contrast to Nelly's behavior.

1.5 Bonus Question: If it was you tending house on the Heights...Would you meddle, or not?

Since I am allergic to drama, I think I probably wouldn’t. Let the psychos go nuts by themselves. But maybe I’d do the occasional minor meddle, just to attempt to keep everyone from the fiery pits of hell: “Heathcliff, perhaps you should reconsider kidnapping this young woman. It’s not very neighborly of you.”

2. Looking at all of the couples in this book; after reading all of the crazy in this book...Do you still believe that Love redeems? Does it make up for the rest of their lives?

Love can't redeem by itself. Heathcliff is an excellent example of this. No one is doubting that he LOVED Catherine. Well, actually, come to think of it, I am going to doubt it right now: I think he idolized Catherine. He isn't capable of a pure love, which is (to quote 1 Corinthians 13) patient, kind, not easily angered, doesn't keep a record of wrongs, not envious--and here's the kicker--does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. And Heathcliff, if he does anything, rejoices with the evil! So maybe a pure love can redeem, but that's not what we see here.

3. Final answer...Reflect on your re-read of this classic...What changed? Notice something new? How do you currently feel about the Heights?

I still love it... I love it even more, now. I'm never bothered by reading about lunatics, psychos, and jerks. That's what's fun about reading. I'd never encounter people like this outside of the pages of a book (knock on wood!). The whole theme of REVENGE went over my head when I was 17. All I remembered were the proclamations of love and passion. But now, I'd say that more than anything, this is a story of revenge, not love.

I ask... and answer...

The moors play a major role. Could this book have taken place elsewhere? The South of France, Jamaica, the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania?

The moors are such a presence in the novel that they are practically a character. I don't think any other setting would capture the same melancholy, the same haunting effect of the moors. I'd love to go see the English moors. Just so long as I didn't see the ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff!

In Chapter 34 Nelly wonders if Heathcliff is not human after all, but a supernatural creature: "Is he a ghoul, or a vampire?" Do you think there is evidence in the text that Heathcliff may indeed be something other than human?

The legend of changelings came to my mind during the beginning of WH, when Mr. Earnshaw brings home the foundling Heathcliff. He definitely acts in ways that are something other than human, and the ambience of the moors and the superstitions of the locals could easily convince the reader that Heathcliff is a supernatural creature. But I think the fact that he is human is what makes his behavior so sinister. He should be susceptible to human emotions like guilt and shame, kindness and compassion... but he's NOT. And in the end, Heathcliff does end up as something other than human, doesn't he? He haunts the moors as a ghost! Or so they say...

There's a new movie version of WH in the works and the casting director wants you. What character would you want to play?

It'd be fun to play the embodiment of pure evil and be Heathcliff. But I don't think I'd quite be able to pull off that Tall, Dark, and Smoldering thing he's got going on. I'd be Catherine. She's psychotic enough to make it a fun role to play, she has two men in love with her, and she gets to make the passionate "I am Heathcliff!" speech.

Wuthering Heights Family Tree: 
The intermingled Houses of Earnshaw and Linton



Anonymous said...

Hmm...I like that your take on the housekeeper comparison is humor. Probably the best bet.

And that kidnapping is "not very neighborly" let me just say hahahahahahahahaha, love it!

Love your answer to the Heathcliff paranormal question. I also agree that the changeling tale fits best...but that it's important that he's human for the scary factor of the story.

P.S. your drawing rocks...and is far more accurate than my pictorial ;) oops...

rachelkiwi said...

this was so fun. we need to do another reread sometime. although you and linds are such procrastinators;)