Sorry about missing Wednesday. I had every intention of posting but a combination of double IPAs and food poisoning occupied my evening (and early morning). So to make up for missing Wednesday, I present an extra-long Saturday edition!
Mr. Lockwood – Oh, Thrushcross Grange is such a remote cottage in a remote part of England. I won’t have to deal with anyone ever. But first I must see my new landlord.
Lockwood – Wow, this is a big, big house. And so gloomy.
Joseph the servant – Razzle-frazzle friggin’ fargin’ sum ‘arhenth! 〈〈I’m a bitter religious hypocrite who hates everyone.〉〉
Heathcliff – I’m your landlord. Do you like Thrushcross Grange?
Lockwood – It’s wonderful! And so secluded!
Heathcliff – Yes. Well, we’ve met, so go away now.
Lockwood – Of course. [[leaves]] What a delightful, handsome man! I’m sure that I’ll get along with my fellow loner. I’ll call on him again sometime!
Wuthering Heights (a week later):
Lockwood – Hello! Is anyone there! I say, it’s snowing out here! The weather is quite, quite nasty. Please let me in.
Joseph – Razz fraggin’ fircking dirkin gooan! 〈〈What the hell are you doing here?〉〉 [[Lets him in]] ‘Aster ‘ill seeya ijit. 〈〈The master will see you, you idiot.〉〉
Lockwood – Um, thanks, so I’ll just see myself to the parlor. Very good. Oh, my, hello young lady. You are beautiful.
Mrs. Heathcliff – Go to hell.
Lockwood – Um, well. And who are you, young man?
Hareton – Go to ‘ell!
Lockwood – I, um, well, I’ll just sit next to these nice dogs? Yes, I’m sure that won’t be a problem.
Heathcliff – What are you doing here?
Lockwood – Visiting you and your lovely family, like, um, the quite young Mrs. Heathcliff here.
Mrs. Heathcliff – Oh, hell no! I hate him!
Heathcliff – She’s my daughter-in-law.
Lockwood – Of course. She’s much too young for you. So this um, nice young man here is your son?
Heathcliff/Hareton/Mrs. Heathcliff – Hell no! I hate him!
Heathcliff – No, her husband is dead. This is Hareton who is nothing but a servant.
Lockwood – My goodness. [[Then follows a tense, awkward, and cold supper]] So, well, the weather is so frightfully terrible, I don’t think I should go back tonight. Perhaps someone would be so kind as to offer me a room? *crickets chirping* Very well then, I’ll not stay a moment longer in this hateful house. Excuse me. [[Tries to leave but is run down by the half-feral dogs]] You people are mad!
Heathcliff – Zillah, do something with him until morning.
Zillah the maid – This way, sir.
Lockwood – My goodness, are these people always like this?
Zillah – Ever since I’ve worked here. Here, you can take this bedroom. The master doesn’t like anyone in it, but there’s no other place to put you.
[[Lockwood examines the books out of boredom and finds they are annotated by a girl named Catherine. Lockwood has a fevered nightmare dream, which wakes Heathcliff, and is finally returned to his home in the morning]]
Lockwood – Damn it, I’m laid up with some sort of terrible cold. Nelly, do you know anything about those terrible people at Wuthering Heights?
Ellen (Nelly) Dean – Oh, yes, sir, I was a maid there for many years, as was my mother before me. But I don’t indulge in gossip.
Lockwood – Please do. I feel I ought to know more about my crazy landlord.
Nelly – Very well.
Wuthering Heights (~30 or 35 years ago):
Nelly (narrating) – My mother was a nurse to the Earnshaw family who have owned Wuthering Heights for a long, long time. I was the same age as the son, Hindley, and a few years older than the daughter, Catherine. One day, Mr. Earnshaw went on a trip and then came back and everything changed.
Old Mr. Earnshaw – Hey everyone! Guess what I found on the road back? A baby boy! Poor thing. So we’ll adopt him.
Old Mrs. Earnshaw – What? Kill it with fire! We’ve got our own children to worry about without taking in some gypsy child.
Old Mr. Earnshaw – I am sure there’s no way my sympathetic act can hurt our family in any way. I’ll call him Heathcliff.
Nelly (narrating) – Well, Heathcliff was sort of a servant and sort of not. He and Catherine were best friends. Old Mr. Earnshaw really liked Heathcliff but Hindley was jealous.
Hindley – Leave my sister alone, you common trash!
Heathcliff – I’m better than you are!
Hindley – No, you’re not! You don’t even have a last name!
Catherine – Leave him alone! He’s my friend!
Nelly (narrating) – Old Mr. Earnshaw did try to keep his daughter away from Heathcliff, but that just encouraged them to keep running away behind his back. Hindley kept bullying Heathcliff until his father sent him off to college just to be rid of him. In due time, both old Earnshaws passed away and Hindley became master, and came home from college with a wife! Hindley began bullying Heathcliff worse than ever.
Wuthering Heights (now about ~20 years ago):
Nelly – Heathcliff! Where’s Catherine?
Heathcliff – We went out again and stopped by Thrushcross Grange to spy on the Lintons. Edgar and Isabella are so silly and spoiled and soft. We were laughing at them, but then a dog got out and bit Catherine and so they took her into the house to take care of her and sent me back to tell Hindley. It’s not fair I’ve been held back so far. I’d make a better gentleman than that silly sop Edgar.
Nelly (narrating) – Catherine was laid up there for five weeks, and Hindley took the opportunity to try to distract his sister from Heathcliff by letting his wife dote on her and buy her pretty clothes and try to turn her into a lady. And it kind of worked.
Nelly – Heathcliff, don’t be so sullen. Catherine’s coming back today. You should tidy yourself up.
Hindley – Ha! Why bother? He’s worthless trash! My dad should have left him on the road to die.
Heathcliff – I hate you!
Catherine – I’m home! Hello, everyone!
Joseph – Arghen fraggin firk ding blast! 〈〈Well look who thinks she’s so high and mighty!〉〉
Catherine – Heathcliff! [[she hugs him]] Why don’t you smile? I don’t care that my dress is all dirty now.
Heathcliff – I’m not going to stand here and be condescended to now that you have fancy clothes. [[storms off in a huff]]
Catherine – Huh. Well, he’ll get over it. Hindley, can we please invite the Lintons over? It’s so nice to have friends!
Nelly (narrating) – To everyone’s surprise, Hindley’s wife lived long enough to give birth to a son, Hareton. But she didn’t live long after, and I raised that little boy as a son. Unfortunately Hindley spiraled down into drunken, violent despair.
Heathcliff – Nelly, can I talk to you?
Nelly – Sure.
Heathcliff – I hate everyone except Catherine. I love Catherine. We should be together.
Nelly – Oh, don’t say you hate everyone except Catherine.
Heathcliff – But I do. If I can’t be with Catherine, I’ll do dark, terrible things… terrible things…
Nelly – Oh, hey, I think she’s coming this way.
Heathcliff – I’ll hide around back so I can eavesdrop.
Catherine – Nelly, can I talk to you?
Nelly – Sure.
Catherine – Edgar asked me to marry him. I agreed! But Nelly, I’m worried about Heathcliff. I can’t marry him. He doesn’t have any money and we’d probably die destitute.
[[Heathcliff storms off in a huff]]
Catherine – But I do love Heathcliff so, so, so very much.
Nelly – You do? But he’s, um, not really very nice.
Catherine – You don’t know him the way I do. He’s so passionate and intense and we are so, so in love. So if I can’t marry him, I’ll use Edgar’s money to help him better himself. See, it’ll all work out.
Nelly – If you say so.
Nelly (narrating) – No, I didn’t tell Catherine what Heathcliff had said to me and I’m not sorry. He ran off and didn’t come back. Catherine was upset and made herself sick, but finally got well enough to marry Edgar Linton and move here. I came with her but that meant I had to leave little Hareton to the care of his drunken, violent father and that no-good hypocrite Joseph.
Thrushcross Grange (~3 years later):
Heathcliff – Good morning, Nelly.
Nelly – Heathcliff! My goodness you have grown! You look so handsome and polished and rich and sound like you’ve gotten yourself some education. What are you doing here?
Heathcliff – I’m going to move to Wuthering Heights and get my revenge on all those that wronged me.
Nelly – Oh, that’s nice… wait, what?
Heathcliff – I will get revenge on every living Earnshaw and Edgar Linton. I will make them all suffer.
Nelly – … I, er, what? Seriously?
Heathcliff – They all must pay. Where’s Catherine?
Catherine – Heathcliff! [[hugs him]] Where have you been? Why did you run away? You look wonderful! Come inside and say hello to everyone.
Nelly – I, er, don’t think that’s a good idea…
Catherine – Don’t be silly, Nelly!
Heathcliff – Yes, Nelly, don’t be silly, or there will be… consequences.
Nelly – *gulp*
Catherine – Edgar, guess who’s returned? Heathcliff! Isn’t that wonderful?
Edgar – Oh yes, that’s… something. Definitely… something. Nice to see you, Heathcliff. My wife is clearly happy to see you. You remember my sister Isabella?
Heathcliff – Whatever.
Nelly (narrating) – Edgar couldn’t bear to see Catherine unhappy, so he let her spend all the time she wanted with Heathcliff. Hindley let Heathcliff move in with him even though they hated each other.
Catherine – Isabella, you’re not your usual cheery self, and that makes me not cheerful. So you cheer up directly.
Isabella – You’re mean!
Catherine – I am not. But why do you say so?
Isabella – You keep Mr. Heathcliff all to yourself.
Catherine – What, you want to go out with him? Don’t be silly, Isabella. He’s a dangerous person full of dark and brooding passion. You could never make him happy, and you’d only be miserable if you tried.
Isabella – But you like him!
Catherine – I understand him and can handle his flaws. You wouldn’t be able to, so just drop the idea.
Isabella – *Humph*
Heathcliff – Hello, Catherine!
Catherine – Heathcliff! Do you know that Isabella has a crush on you?
Isabella – I do not! You’re mean, Catherine! [[storms off in a huff]]
Heathcliff – Well, that’s interesting. I can use that information for my revenge against everyone who wronged me.
Catherine – You’re not seriously thinking of encouraging her?
Heathcliff – This is just too perfect. With your brother’s gambling problem, I’ll soon own Wuthering Heights. And if I marry Isabella, I can own Thrushcross Grange too. Muhahahahaha!
Catherine – Oh, Heathcliff, you’re being perfectly ridiculous. [[storms off in a huff]]
Nelly – Am I the only one here actually listening to your horrible revenge plot?
Heathcliff – Pretty much. Laters!
[[He leaves, but soon is seen embracing Isabella; Edgar is furious]]
Edgar – That’s it! That is it! I have tolerated you wandering around my house like you own the place, going off with my wife, but I will not have you trying to date my sister!
Catherine/Isabella – Hey!
Edgar – Get out of here and never come back! And Isabella, you go to your room.
[[Heathcliff storms off in a huff, Catherine storms off in a huff, and Isabella storms off in a huff]]
Edgar – Well, I’m sure all that will blow over. Nelly, please keep an eye on Catherine and Isabella for me.
Nelly – Of course. We should be fine as long as Isabella doesn’t sneak out and marry Heathcliff…and she’s not in her room… and, um, as long as Catherine doesn’t freak out and make herself sick again… and she’s locked me out of her room and won’t eat… Damn it.
Edgar – My sister is gone and my wife is ill. What’s going on?
Nelly – Oh, you know how she is. Remember the last time Mr. Heathcliff ran off?
Edgar – I don’t know; this seems really serious. Better get a doctor. [[it is serious]] Damn it, Nelly!
Nelly – What? How was I supposed to know she was really sick?
Edgar – I’ll take care of her for now and try to get her back to her former high-spirited, beautiful self.
Dr. Kenneth – Yeah, that’s not likely. My diagnosis is she won’t live a year.
Nelly – Look, I heard a rumor your sister is back. I’ll go see how she’s doing, shall I?
Nelly – I want to see Isabella.
Joseph – Ach! Arughs fruck didja coome fer? 〈〈What did you come back for?〉〉
Nelly – Hareton! Sweetie, how are you?
Hareton – Ach! Ye can go to Hell! 〈〈Take a sojourn to Hades!〉〉
Nelly – Goodness, you’re only five years old! Where did you learn that kind of language?
Joseph – Ey did! An’ his da! Ey didda sooch a goada jooby. 〈〈I did, and his father too. We did such a good job raising him!〉〉
Heathcliff – Nelly, why are you here? Have you come to see my blushing bride? I hate her.
Nelly – Isabella, please come home. Your brother would forgive you.
Isabella – He won’t let me leave.
Heathcliff – Hey, I never told you I was anything but a monster and you married me anyway. And now you’ll stay here knowing that your brother and sister-in-law are suffering without you! That’ll teach Edgar to throw me out!
Nelly – Isabella, please come home. Catherine is very ill.
Heathcliff – Say what now? You have to let me see her.
Nelly – Edgar would never allow it, and it will cause Catherine great distress and might kill her.
Heathcliff – Nelly, I’ll take extreme measures if I have to; let me see her!
Nelly – Oh, this is such a bad idea, such a bad idea. Catherine, there’s someone here to see you.
Catherine – I don’t care, Nelly. I’m dying. [[Heathcliff rushes in and hugs her]] You!
Heathcliff – Catherine I love you so very, very much I never want to leave your side! Why did you throw me away?
Catherine – I love you so very very much and you ran away! I was going to use my marriage to help you and you ran away! You broke my heart! I’m dying! You’re killing me!
Heathcliff – You broke my heart! You’re killing me every day we aren’t together! Being with you is torment, but being without you is worse!
[[Their “touching” scene is cut short when Edgar abruptly returns and freaks out]]
Edgar – Get away from my wife and get out of my house!
[[Catherine faints and Heathcliff rushes out of the house; Catherine slips into a fevered state and to the surprise of all gives birth to a premature baby girl]]
Nelly – Oh, well, that explains a lot. Funny the doctor didn’t realize that when he was here.
[[And Catherine dies that night; Edgar is inconsolable and Heathcliff remains vengeful]]
Isabella – Nelly, get a carriage and pack my things.
Nelly – Did you just run miles in the rain and in the dark to get here?
Isabella – Yes. I managed to escape when Hindley got into a drunken brawl with Heathcliff. I’m so sorry for everything but I’m going far, far away. I am never going back!
Nelly (narrating) – And she didn’t. We found out later that she had a son named Linton. Hindley died six months after Catherine and that’s when we found out he’d mortgaged all his land and property to Heathcliff leaving poor little Hareton with nothing.
Thrushcross Grange (about 12 years later):
Nelly (narrating) – Edgar gave Cathy, his daughter, everything but tried to keep her away from Wuthering Heights, so it really was only a matter of time before she got into trouble. It started after Isabella died and Edgar went to fetch her son.
Cathy – Oh, Nelly, is cousin Linton going to come live here?
Nelly – Yes, dear.
Cathy – It will be so nice to have a friend! Father never lets me go very far. May we please go out today? I’ll be good, I promise.
Nelly – Oh, very well. Just stay within sight of me.
Cathy – Of course I will! [[And she immediately runs off by herself and trespasses on Wuthering Heights]]
Heathcliff – Oh, so this is the daughter? Nelly, let her come inside and meet her family.
Cathy – What with the who now?
Heathcliff – I’m your uncle. Didn’t your father ever tell you about your aunt’s husband?
Cathy – Um, no.
Nelly – Hareton! My little boy is getting so big!
Hareton – Go ta Hell ye frasin schruv! 〈〈Take a sojourn to Hades, foul woman!〉〉
Heathcliff – And that’s your cousin Hareton.
Cathy – I only have one cousin, and that’s Linton, and he’s coming to stay with us.
Nelly – Yes, in the far future… in the very far future.
Heathcliff – Nelly, you’re a bad liar. Interesting. Well, I suppose I should let you two get back home now.
Cathy – Why didn’t Father tell me about my uncle?
Nelly – Because he’s terrible.
Cathy – Nelly, you’re so dramatic.
Edgar – I’m back! Come meet your cousin, Linton.
[[A very sickly boy goes into the house]]
Cathy – Ooo, he’s wonderful.
Nelly – Um, Edgar, I’ve got some bad news… [[proceeds to tell him what happened]] But maybe Heathcliff will leave Linton alone.
Joseph – Linna argh ‘eh whit aaoona! 〈〈I’m here for the kid!〉〉
Nelly – Or not.
The Next Day:
Linton – Nelly, I’m confused. I thought I was staying with my uncle. Now I’m staying with my father? What’s he like? And why didn’t Mother ever tell me about him?
Nelly – Um…he’s, well, um, a difficult man, but I’m sure he’ll love you very much.
Heathcliff – What a sickly wretch of a child you bring me. He looks just like his mother! I hated her and I’m glad she’s dead and I hate him too.
Nelly – Or not. What is wrong with you?
Heathcliff – Never you mind, Nelly, Linton’s just a tool for my revenge. I have Wuthering Heights and I’ll have Thrushcross Grange as well. Come on, you worthless sack of skin. [[practically drags away a crying Linton]]
Nelly (narrating) – We didn’t tell Cathy exactly what happened to Linton and managed to keep her away from Wuthering Heights for about three years.
Heathcliff – Cathy, Nelly, you’ve been away too long. Linton and Hareton want to see their cousin, Cathy.
Nelly – That’s not true.
Cathy – Oh, Nelly, please let me go inside and see poor Linton.
Heathcliff – Yes, Nelly, what harm can it do?
[[They go inside and find Linton is still sickly and Hareton is a servant]]
Linton – Cathy, I’m so glad to see you! Come over here and entertain me!
Cathy – Of course! See, Nelly, everything’s alright.
Linton – And now I’m bored of you, Cathy. Go away and leave me alone!
Cathy – Wait, what? Okay…
Linton – No, wait, I’m so alone! So alone! Cater to my every whim!
Cathy – Um, okay…
Heathcliff – He’s a worthless whelp just like his mother.
Nelly – He seems like he’s as manipulative as his father…
Heathcliff – I hope so. He’s got no other skills, talents, or character traits that are remotely attractive enough to get Cathy to marry him so I can own Thrushcross Grange at last. Muhahaha!
Nelly – Cathy, we have got to go.
Linton – No, please come back!
[[But Nelly succeeds in getting Cathy out of the house; however, Cathy starts secretly writing letters to Linton which is eventually halted by Nelly]]
Nelly (narrating) – A few more years passed and Edgar started to get very ill. We started getting more messages from Wuthering Heights from Linton begging Cathy to see him again. I knew Heathcliff was dictating those letters trying to get Cathy to marry Linton. The girl was too soft-hearted, and Edgar relented because I never told him how bad I thought Linton was.
Cathy – I hope Linton isn’t as sick as he says in his letters.
Nelly – Me too.
[[They meet a very sickly Linton very near to the house]]
Cathy – Linton, you look terrible! [[rushes to him]] Please, let me take care of you.
Linton – No, no, no, you must come into the house. You can take care of me there!
Cathy – I can’t go in that house! Please come to my house!
Linton – Cathy, you’ll kill me if you don’t come inside! I’m such a coward. Please come inside!
Cathy – What are you talking about?
Heathcliff – Oh, good grief, boy, is this the best you can do? I’ll beat you until you do better!
Cathy – You leave him alone!
Heathcliff – You make me. Let’s go into the house, shall we?
[[They all go into the house and Linton sits sullenly to the side]]
Heathcliff – Stupid boy almost screwed everything up. I was afraid he was going to die before Edgar! But now you two can get married.
Cathy – I’m not marrying him! Linton, you tricked me!
Linton – Oh, get over yourself, Cathy. Just marry me and be done with it.
Cathy – No!
Heathcliff – If you want to see your father before he dies, you will.
Nelly – What? You can’t keep us locked up in here!
Heathcliff – Yeah, I totally can.
[[Nelly is locked up by herself for five days and finally is thrown out of the house without Cathy]]
Nelly – Where’s Cathy? Where is she?
Heathcliff – My daughter-in-law is in her room adjusting to being a wife. Now go away and don’t come back.
Nelly (narrating) – I ran back as fast as I could and tried to get help, but no one would help Cathy because she was married to Linton. I talked with the new housekeeper to get news, and it wasn’t good; Linton was too much like his father.
Cathy – Nelly, Nelly! Let me see my father!
Nelly – Cathy! How did you get here? Did Heathcliff let you go?
Cathy – No, I had to run away. Linton’s terrible and Heathcliff is worse. I made Linton help me escape and I’m sure Heathcliff is going to beat him for it.
Nelly (narrating) – So Cathy got to say good-bye to her father, but right after the funeral Heathcliff forced her to return to Wuthering Heights. Linton died not too long after, but Heathcliff won’t let her come back here. That’s why he’s renting this place out, and that’s why everyone in that house hates everyone else.
Lockwood – Yeah, so, when I’m better I’m getting the hell out of here.
Nelly – Probably a good idea.
[[Lockwood tells Heathcliff he’s leaving, but Heathcliff doesn’t let him out of the rental contract]]
Wuthering Heights, Eight Months Later:
Lockwood – I say, is anyone home? I was just in the neighborhood and found you weren’t at Thrushcross Grange, which I am still paying rent on…
Nelly – Oh, do come in. We love guests!
Lockwoood – Oh, lovely Cathy and… who is that handsome, polished young man with her? Is that Hareton?
Nelly (narrating) – Oh, yes. You see, shortly after you left, Zillah left, and I was the only person willing to take up the position of maid. Hareton hurt himself so Cathy started to take care of him. This enraged Heathcliff, but he couldn’t keep them apart.
Cathy – Hareton, I’m sorry for making fun of you, but I was in a horrible situation and you didn’t help me.
Hareton – I’m sorry, Cathy, but even though I know Heathcliff hates me, he’s the only father-figure I’ve really had and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I was wrong.
Heathcliff – I still hate everyone. And I keep seeing visions of my beloved everywhere. My heart is blackened and my revenge completed. And I think I may be thwarted in the end anyway if those two have their way. There is nothing for me. For years I have waited for my beloved, to join her or even have her haunt me, and yet she stays just out of reach, and I stay in the land of the living.
Nelly – So, um, do you want me to get a doctor?
Heathcliff – No, I’ll be fine. Just fine now.
Nelly (narrating) – He stopped eating and sleeping and one night I found him in Catherine’s old room cold and dead. I can’t say anyone was really sorry. But now both properties go to Cathy, and she and Hareton will be married this year.
Lockwood – Well, I guess that worked out after all. [[goes for a walk on the moors and visits the graves of Catherine, Heathcliff, and Edgar]] Well, I hope all three at are peace now.
I have a lot of patience for reading the classics, but the tight circle of characters and the common trend of British parents naming their children after them (even the girls) made it really confusing to figure out who the hell was being talked about. Catherine Earnshaw marries Edger Linton and becomes Catherine Linton. They have a daughter whom they name Catherine, so now there are two Catherine Lintons. The daughter Catherine Linton marries Linton Heathcliff and becomes Catherine Heathcliff. But then she marries Hareton Earnshaw and becomes Catherine Earnshaw.
For some reason, I thought this was supposed to be a great love story between Heathcliff and Catherine, but it’s really not. Structurally, Catherine is dead by about the 1/3 mark in the book. But more to the point, Heathcliff is a really terrible, horrible person. Catherine is narcissistic and selfish, but the harm she does is incidental. If she’s happy, everyone is happy, and if she’s not happy, she wants everyone to make her happy. No, she doesn’t love Edgar, but she has precious few options to make a life for herself. But despite Heathcliff’s profession of love, once he feels he’s been spurned, he immediately sets out to ruin the lives of everyone he knows including the one he loves. He believes that Edgar could never love Catherine as deeply as he loves her, but Edgar never tries to hurt her except when he kicks Heathcliff out of his house, and he can’t really be blamed for that.
This is not a love story. This is a bad romance. Had Catherine married Heathcliff, it seems obvious to me that they still would have destroyed each other because Heathcliff is clearly prone to violence (and kidnapping, and possibly murder) but at least the damage would likely have been confined to just the two of them. Because Catherine tried to make the best life for herself she could, Heathcliff punished her. And punished Edgar, and Isabella, and three children who had absolutely nothing to do with any of it. Now, it turns out Linton was just as cruel as his father, but three years of abuse by Heathcliff were probably pretty influential in him turning out that way. I am not certain why Heathcliff is referred to as an anti-hero. He’s an outright villain for the most part and Nelly even says so. He’s also called a Byronic hero, and while that seems like an apt description, I take issue with the word “hero” in that phrase as well. Heathcliff, and Byronic heroes, are protagonists, not heroes. The only redeeming quality in Heathcliff is that he loves Catherine, but he destroys her anyway. Funny definition of “love” and “hero” if you ask me. And the saying is, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Clearly whoever coined that phrase never read this book. But “no good deed goes unpunished” is certainly apt.