Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wuthering Heights: a Snap Poll and a Smattering of Criticism

Since there's nothing we EBC's like to do more than reduce complex, multifaceted works of art into simple and silly questions, I hereby offer you this poll: whom do you blame more for their painful severing , Heathcliff or Cathy? Is it Heathcliff's fault for threatening Hindley and utering dark oaths that scare Cathy? Is it Cathy's fault for capitulating to the social order and becoming "a lady" in the Linton household? It's not about who's right or wrong throughout the book, but rather which of them set off the fateful events. Personally, I always blame Cathy, (although I pity her) because I identify with the pair as a rebellious duo. free polls
Whom do you blame more for their separation, Heathcliff or Cathy?
Heathcliff Cathy Nelly Dean, cause she's so "unreliable" hahahaha
And in the spirit of geting deeper into the book, I'd remind you that WH is one of the most symbolically potent novels of its time, particuarly the two houses and the two generations. Nancy Armstrong points out the trouble WH gives critics, because its first half seems romantic while its second half is realist, while Charlotte Bronte desperately tried to point out that there was some goodness to the book and it wasn't all "perverse."

The Gs of "Madwoman", my favorite feminist foremamas, believe that WH's first half is a Miltonic story in reverse: that it tells the tale of Cathy's "Fall" from the hell of Wuthering Heights to the "heaven" of Thrushcross grange. But here's where the feminism comes in. If Wuthering Heights is is hell in the traditional sense with its darkness and wildness, it might be heaven in another sense for a young woman because it offers young Cathy freedom, anarchy and the ability to be with the man she truly loves. And the fact that a vicious dog bites Cathy upon her entrance to "heaven" at the Grange, a house which is carpeted in "crimson" leave the reader to ponder which house is really celestial and which one netherworldly for a woman. Is Cathy's trajectory Milton in reverse, or is a true fall ?

They also believe that Heathcliff can be interpreted as an almost Freudian projection of Cathy's most essential, anti-patriarchal self--her true id. Thus when she and Heathcliff split, her "death" begins, because she cannot live without HER life, HER soul. She is Heathcliff but he is also her. Edgar of course functions like a patriarchal superego, repeateldy separating Cathy from Heathcliff/her own self.


The Gs also point out (SPOILER ALERT) that the journeys of the two Cathys are opposite:
Catherine Earnshaw-->Catherine Heathcliff (symbolically)-->Catherine Linton
Catherine Linton-->Catherine Heathcliff-->Catherine Earnshaw. They have a theory about that, but I'll leave it up to you to think about as the second half begins on TV this weekend.

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