Saturday, February 8, 2014

She begs I let her in, though I dare not

I must say, Emily Bronte has succeeded in manipulating me.  This book is all feeling and little logic, though it provoked me quite well without it.

Imagine me, curled up with my Nook in the lonely darkness of the lake house, scanning the screen and despairing in pity for each of the mad fools Emily has designed.  My mother remarked on what a poor place it was to partake in such literature, but I felt it fitted the purpose of the narrative.  I allowed myself to empathize with the madness of each player in their role.

I understood why Catherine made her choice, though it was certainly a choice in folly.  If she'd only reflected that Heathcliff was most dear to her, she would have spared many people a great deal of misery.  She could have married him, and they would have struggled, but he more than proved there was means for them to survive.  She would still have been mad, but maybe less mad if her protestations were true.  Alas, she elected a more traditional path and doomed them all. 

I pitied Heathcliff the most, though he is monstrous.  He certainly was detestable in his behavior, and here I mean his treatment of his wife and of Hareton.  I don't believe he was meant to be wicked from the start, I think if he'd been treated with kindness after the death of his foster father he might have turned out normal.

I think Hindley's madness caused a great bit of the awfulness in the book, between his drunken rages and his own selfish bitterness about Heathcliff.

And what is with Nelly Dean?  She sits down and tells a totally stranger the whole history of this tragic family of fools.

I'm only about 90% finished with the book.  I've enjoyed it, if enjoyed means allowed it to torment me for several hours.  It has all the tragedy and loss of Gatsby or The Count of Monte Cristo and an additional depth of hopelessness.  At times it gives me pangs of futility.  I must persevere, as I have yet to learn whether the specter at the beginning is truly the dark spirit of Heathcliff's lost love or whether it is merely an apparition resulting from the very sort of late night morbidity in which I am indulging.

I can only hope I do not invite in fearful visions of my own.