Once more my current reading bears very little resemblance to the Currently Reading Section on the sidebar. This is partly because my reading this week has been rather different from usual as I’ve been reading mainly children’s books – out loud to the grandchildren.
But I did manage to squeeze in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, which I first read many years ago. I was a bit wary about re-reading it in case I was disappointed by it now, but I needn’t have worried as it’s even better than I remembered it. It’s the writing that enthralled me. Parts of it were like reading it for the first time and parts were just so familiar, I think I must have read some sections many times over. My over-riding memory of the story was of Lockwood spending the night in Catherine Earnshaw’s bedroom and his dream in which he heard a rattle on the window panes. When he opened the window his fingers closed
… on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of the nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, “Let me in – let me in!” “Who are you?” I asked, struggling, meanwhile to disengage myself.
… Terror made me cruel; and finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, “Let me in!” and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear.
This still sends shivers down my spine.
I had forgotten that a large part of the book covers the story of Catherine’s daughter, Cathy and Heathcliff’s son, Linton, but I found that just as gripping as the beginning of the book. Linton Heathcliff is the most exasperating, weak character so easily controlled and manipulated by his father’s brutal cruelty. I was impressed by the way Emily Bronte managed to make me feel sorry for such an unsympathetic character as Heathcliff, full of bitterness and driven to gain revenge for Catherine’s betrayal even whilst his love for her never diminished, bordering on insanity. Even though she was so self-centred and rejected him, years after her death he was still obsessed and haunted by her:
I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped in the flags! In every cloud, in every tree- filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day – I am surrounded by her image! The most ordinary faces of men and women – my own features – mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!