In a similar manner, many of the parent-child relationships in
this book are distorted and cruel. Mr. Earnshaw detests
Hindley; Hindley nearly kills Hareton; and Hindley as a
substitute father mistreats Cathy and Heathcliff. Heathcliff,
another substitute father, does everything he can to degrade
Hareton. Often this is due to some outside agent, like the trap
put over the lapwing nest. Heathcliff comes between Mr.
Earnshaw and his son, and the death of Hindley's wife makes
him lose any real interest in his son. In every case, it's the child
who is vulnerable, almost as vulnerable as the baby lapwings.
Though Bronte's characters have painful childhoods, they also
remember their youths as times of freedom and innocent,
animallike joy. Soon after she speaks of the lapwings, Cathy
says, "I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and
free... and laughing at injuries, not maddening under them!"
You have contrasted the qualities of Wuthering Heights and
Thrushcross Grange (stormy-calm, etc.). You should now add
another: between child and adult. The Wuthering Heights type
characters-Heathcliff and Cathy, especially-behave in many
ways like children even when they're grown up; they have little
self-control, for instance. The Thrushcross Grange qualities of
courtesy and self-restraint belong more to the adult world.
Does that explain why the Thrushcross Grange characters, like
Edgar and Isabella, are the good parents? Emily Bronte's
obvious love for the vulnerable age of childhood softens you
toward many of the sins of those who live at Wuthering
It is Cathy's reliving of her childhood now that makes you
forget how difficult a person she was in the previous chapter.
She talks distractedly for a while, and when she refers to a
clothes press that is not there, you know she's hallucinating.
The clothes press, you may remember from Lockwood's
description in Chapter 3, is back in her old room at Wuthering... [continues]
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