Skip to main content

Full text of "The Brontes"

See other formats

I2O                      THE   BRONTES
hers which, as her poems show, was as charac-
teristic of her nature as that other characteristic
of violent feeling and manifested itself in Wuthering
Heights in the way in which she used Time to
soften the sense of tragedy, took the place in her
mind that a more scientific understanding of the
psychology of human beings takes in the minds of
readers of to-day.    Heathcliff is no more mon-
strous to us than he was to Emily.   We see him,
at first, as no more than an ill-used sullen boy,
growing bitter under Hindley's ill treatment and
Catherine's  apparently uncertain affection and
thoughtless  coquetries ;   he disappears and we
see him returned and faced with the irrevocable
fact of Catherine's marriage to his loathed rival,
Edgar, and her breakdown and death ;   we see
HeathclifFs bitterness and rage hardening into
relentless scheming to wreck the lives and capture
the fortunes of both families, the Earnshaws and
the Lintons ; we see his almost complete triumph,
his  haunted pursuit  of the   mocking  spirit  of
Catherine and his sudden tormented end.   There
are passages in which Heathcliff is described to
seem literally diabolical, and his mysterious origin
and dark, swarthy appearance- " as black as if
he came from the devil " - as well as the super-
natural element in the story are in keeping with
that impression of him, at any rate upon a men-
tality as naturally superstitious as Mrs. Dean's.
And as it is Mrs. Dean who is telling the story
that impression is,  of course,  conveyed to the
reader.   But, after the book has been read more
than once, reflection suggests that Heathcliff was