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Full text of "The Brontë sisters"

THE  BRONTE  SISTERS                           33
strange behaviour and mysterious relationships of the people
he finds living there. The reader, too, is made intensely
curious and longs to hear the explanation of it all, which
presently Lockwood, before he leaves the neighbourhood
in disgust with the climate, hears from the Earnshaws' old
nurse, Nellie Dean. Within her narrative come other first-
person narratives, of young Cathy and of Isabella. Then
later Lockwood comes back again, sees a completely changed
situation at the Heights and again hears the explanation from
Nellie Dean. This method, complex and one would judge
not easy to sustain, renders high dividends in excitement
and suspense.
It is worth noticing here that whereas Charlotte's stories,
and as we shall see later Anne's, belong essentially to the
nineteenth centurywhich indeed they inaugurate: the
century of governesses and machines and trainsso far as
Emily's novel belongs to any one time it is that of the
eighteenth centurythe century of horse transport, rough
tracks, remote houses, character unsoftened by urban con-
tactswhich lingered in Emily's day in the Haworth
uplands. But in essence Emily's tale is timeless: a tale of
elemental, universal passions, love scorned turning into a
fury of revenge and hate.
Emily's novel gains its special quality partly from the
terrible intensity with which its characters feel these mighty
passions. Catherine and Hindley Earnshaw have proud,
fierce wilful natures; HeathclifF is almost demoniac in his
terrible force of will. All three express their feelings with
such awful intensity, such uninhibited force, such untamed
violence that one can hardly read of them without a strong
shudder of excitement.
Emily Bronte's manner of writing, too, here as in her
poems, is austere and unadorned, but mighty; as powerful
as the north wind which rages round Wuthering Heights.
Such scenes as Catherine's dying farewell to Heathcliff, or
that fearful incident when Lockwood dreams he hears her
ghost, twenty years later, still wailing at the "Wuthering