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Full text of "The Brontes"

THE   BRONTES
background behind. She did not succeed, per-
haps fortunately. For, if the tiresome Lockwood
had forced his own affairs, possibly a love affair
with the youthful Catherine, upon the reader's
attention, not only would that have interfered
with our view of the central tragedy but it would
have marred the extraordinary symmetry of the
interwoven fates of the two families of Earnshaw
and Linton, and of the web spun by HeathclifFs
passionate revenge.
Nevertheless, this trick of double-staging effects
changes in the reader's perspective from time to
time which do undoubtedly tell. They tell in the
sense that they mitigate the violence of the story,
subdue a feeling of horror in the mind of the
reader, by recalling to him again and again the
fact that that which at the moment is rousing his
horror is over now, happened years ago, has
receded into the Past. Emily Bronte uses Time,
much as Thomas Hardy uses it, to temper the
spectacle of human passion, to impart to the
reader a tenderness almost towards those who in
life went so far astray. We do not only think of
that passage at the close of the book where Lock-
wood, standing in the little moorland churchyard,
by the tombstones of the three victims, wondered
" how anyone could ever imagine unquiet
slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth," but
of several places in the book where Mrs. Dean's
story, told to enliven Lockwood's convalescence,
is suddenly broken off, tiresomely, because we
kick at the interruption and are not interested in
the stages of Lockwood's illness and Mrs. Dean's