Thursday, November 27, 2008

Great women from art, literature & myth

Catherine Earnshaw, the tragic heroine of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, soon becomes inseparable from Heathcliff, the gypsy-demon child her father brings home from the streets of Liverpool. In their youth they pass the days together, as wild as the windy moors that surround their home. Raised as brother & sister, but not, as time passes, fate has it that Heathcliff is relegated to mere farm hand whilst Catherine is encouraged to become a lady & is pursued by the eligible Edgar Linton. After receiving a marriage proposal from Edgar, Cathy approaches Nelly for advice, not knowing that Heathcliff stands nearby able to hear every word.

"It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire."

On overhearing this Heathcliff leaves the Heights. Many years pass & he returns, after making his fortune, to reclaim Wuthering Heights & Cathy. He does everything in his power to torment & bring ruin to those who have crossed him – including his beloved Catherine.

If only Heathcliff had not overheard that conversation between Cathy & Nelly, would things have turned out any different? Or if he had listened in a little longer he would have heard what Cathy was really saying, what was really in her heart.

"My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees - but my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath - a source of little visible delight, but necessary”

"Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."

Even when Catherine is dead Heathcliff continues his need to consume her, whether this be through the capture & containment of her daughter, or the ceaseless summoning of her spirit - forever denying it peace. Yet you get the feeling Cathy would have chosen this regardless, anything to be near him, her Heathcliff.... her "Home"


1 comment:

Janmaree at Trinkets and Roses said...

So beautiful, so sad. Lovely piece.