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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - Barron's Booknotes
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REFERENCE

THE CRITICS

Heathcliff betrays one solitary human feeling, and that is not
his love for Catherine; which is a sentiment fierce and
inhuman: a passion such as might boil and glow in the bad
essence of some evil genius; a fire that might form the
tormented centre-the ever-suffering soul of a magnate of the
infernal world: and by its quenchless and ceaseless ravage
effect the execution of the decree which dooms him to carry
Hell with him wherever he wanders. No; the single link that
connects Heathcliff with humanity is his rudely confessed
regard for Hareton Earnshaw-the young man whom he has
ruined; and then his half-implied esteem for Nelly Dean.

Charlotte Bronte, preface to the 1850 edition of Wuthering
Heights



Heathcliff and Cathy die without making a fact of the oneness
they both feel is theirs. To Emily Bronte, their marriage is
unthinkable. It can happen only as distant parody: the marriage
of Hareton and Cathy the younger at the end of the book.
Hareton is a watered-down Heathcliff; Cathy is a pale, though
still vivacious, replica of her mother. [Wuthering Heights and
Jane Eyre] end similarly: a relatively mild and ordinary
marriage is made after the spirit of the masculine universe is
controlled or extinguished.

Richard Chase, in Twentieth Century Interpretations, 1947

Heathcliff's revenge may involve a pathological condition of
hatred, but it is not at bottom merely neurotic. It has a moral
force. For what Heathcliff does is to use against his enemies
with complete ruthlessness their own weapons, to turn on them
(stripped of their romantic veils) their own standards, to beat
them at their own game. The weapons he uses against the
Earnshaws and Lintons are their own weapons of money and
arranged marriages. He gets power over them by the classic
methods of the ruling class, expropriation and property deals.

Arnold Kettle, An Introduction to the English Novel, 1951

Any choice between "the Heights" and "the Grange," any
writing up and writing down, will be the manufacture of the
critic, not the novelist. Emily Bronte's places of the heart are
not stages in the development of the highest self, but totally
different ideas of love, speaking different languages. What we
do in reading the book is learn to understand the two
architectures, and begin to measure the full and complex
implications of their opposition, revealed to us with scrupulous
objectivity.

Mark Kinkead-Weekes, in Twentieth Century Interpretations,
1970

None of the other Victorians can successfully describe a death
scene. Awestruck at so tremendous a task, they lose their
creative nerve; their imaginations boggle and fail, and they fill
up the gaps left by its absence with conventional formulas. A
stagey light of false tragic emotion floods the scene; the figures
become puppets, squeaking out appropriately touching or noble
sentiments. But Emily Bronte's eagle imagination gazed with
as undaunted an eye on death, as on everything else. The light
she sheds on it is the same light that pervades her whole scene,
and it is the light of day.

David Cecil, Early Victorian Novelists, 1935

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