Sunday, August 2, 2015

Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff and Catherine's Bedroom Scene

I always get choked up when I read this scene and I've read it many times. Catherine's eager and expectant face as she hears Heathcliff searching the house for her bedroom after months of her being almost as emotionless as a zombie since they last parted. Then when he finds her, rushes to her, kneeling at her chair, enfolding her in his arms and he in hers, the both of them entwined together almost as one "bestowing kisses" for a full five minutes before speaking. Then she blames him and Edgar for killing her by their failure to get along so she can have a relationship with them both and that she should be the one to be pitied but they only pity themselves at the thought of her death. 

I love that Heathcliff calls her on it, reprimanding her for trying to lay a guilt trip on him that will last a lifetime while she'll be at peace in her grave. This dialogue takes place after she desperately rips a chunk of his hair out as he rises from his knee by her chair and he leaves bruises on her arm from his passionate grip. 

From the emotional excitement her heart beats so hard she can't speak until the beating levels out a little. Then she kind of alludes to her description of her relationship with Heathcliff as told to Nelly on that fateful stormy night at Wuthering Heights when she explains how she and Heathcliff share the same soul and share the same feelings as one. She tells Heathcliff she will not rest until he joins her and she will still feel everything he feels even though she'll be dead and buried. 

When Heathcliff is overcome with emotion and moves away from her, Catherine explains that she's looking forward to death as liberation from her life of imprisonment when her spirit will be free to pursue her passion and live where she'll be happy, presumably with Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights. And then they fall into a passionate embrace again, so intense that Nelly fears for Catherine's fragile health. When Nelly attempts to go to her aid Heathcliff scares her away.

I choke up again when Heathcliff gives the speech of how Catherine is to blame for her death because she consciously broke away from Heathcliff by marrying Edgar. He describes their love as something nothing, not even God or Satan could betray, but she did it intentionally to become Edgar's wife, Lady of Thrushcross Grange. He ends by saying that once Catherine's dead, he'll be living "with his soul in the grave." Now Catherine is the one wracked with guilt as she admits she made a mistake in marrying Edgar and that she's dying because of it.

When Edgar comes home from church Catherine refuses to let Heathcliff sneak back out of the house. Poor Nelly! What a horrible position she's in when Edgar walks in and sees Catherine in Heathcliff's arms in her bedroom! It's really no wonder Nelly momentarily hopes Catherine is dead. It's almost comical.

Imagine how shocking this scene must have been back in Victorian times when it was first published. It's pretty rude in the 21st Century, in my opinion. The first line of the next chapter reveals that Catherine was seven months pregnant with her husband, Edgar's baby, as well! 

Over the years I've heard some people suggest Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship is unhealthy and codependent while others, including myself, describe their love as the way they both describe it: soulmates. Some people don't believe there is such a thing as soulmates. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment