sábado, janeiro 31, 1981

The Saintly St. John Rivers:"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë

(Original Review, 1981-01-31)

Ever since my first reading of Jane Eyre I've always viewed it as an account of the indelible effects of emotional abuse, and as such, a very grim book indeed. The novel opens with a recall of the emotional deprivation the 8-year-old Jane receives daily at the hands of her aunt. The story then continues with Jane's time at Lowood School, an institution devoted not so much to teaching the children of paupers, as to teaching them their place in life.

By the time she reaches adulthood Jane is really quite damaged, and she regards herself as a social inferior. This self-image is never really challenged, much less altered or dispelled. The many reviews that praise Jane's undoubted courage unfortunately gloss over this or omit it completely, giving a misleading impression. It is apparent that Jane never ever overcomes the effects of her ghastly childhood. Remember, she is only able to accept Rochester after he had been brought down in the world by the loss of his home and fortune, and his disablement. And while she does, in the end, reject St John, the reader should note how close she comes to succumbing to this emotionally remote, manipulative, hypocritical bully.

To my mind, the most astounding thing in Jane Eyre is Charlotte's implicit (explicit?) criticism of the saintly St. John Rivers. He's supposed to be a man of God, as beautiful as an angel, but with a will of iron and a heart of stone. The way he bullies Jane, using his power as a man and as a servant of God to try to force her to submit to him against her will, is horrific. It's as if he sees an independent woman as a threat which he has to destroy.

Where did this terrifying character come from? Imagination, or did Charlotte perhaps know someone like him?

I think it's Jane's raw, violent, unexamined sexuality. Having never really had much in the way of human warmth, guidance, or emotional education, Jane is quite literally wild. She seeks sensuality like a starving beast and has an almost animal understanding of what constitutes a connection between two human beings. Jane probably doesn't even know what sex is, yet she burns with desire. Rochester - depraved, debauched, debilitated by vice and excesses- sees this in her and in the purity of her passion, he is able to cleanse himself and transcend his baser instincts. I completely buy their relationship, and while it is, objectively, very iffy by today's standards (the gap in age, experience, social status! the mad wife in the attic! the illegitimate child!), it is also completely, viscerally believable. Jane Eyre still shows that lust within love should still be the (moral) goal. She actually effectively teaches Rochester this, as someone barely half his age. She teaches him some morals.

For me, the novel’s strength lies in vivid writing that brings the people and the scenes to life, whether or not one likes them, or approves. The style isn’t always to my taste (I don’t care for the 19th Century habit of addressing the reader) but is compelling in a way that is the hallmark of a great writer.

Maybe a modern politically-correct world that is obsessed with conformity no longer recognises this kind of gift.

The inherent craft of a storyteller is to use invention to more clearly express essential truths of ideas, emotions, impressions and events. Sometimes fiction contains more truth than a fact. What else can a reader expect from a group of authors other than some uncertainty between what's real and what's not?

quarta-feira, janeiro 28, 1981

The Lady is Dark: "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins

(Original Review, 1981-01-28)

The instant my eyes rested on her, I was struck by the rare beauty of her form, and by the unaffected grace of her attitude. Her figure was tall, yet not too tall; comely and well-developed, yet not fat; her head set on her shoulders with an easy, pliant firmness; her waist, perfection in the eyes of a man, for it occupied its natural place, it filled out its natural circle, it was visibly and delightfully undeformed. She had not heard my entrance into the room; and I allowed myself the luxury of admiring her for a few moments, before I moved one of the chairs near me, as the least embarrassing means of attracting her attention. She turned towards me immediately. The easy elegance of every movement of her limbs and body as soon as she began to advance from the far end of the room, set me in a flutter of expectation to see her face clearly. She left the window—and I said to myself, The lady is dark. She moved forward a few steps—and I said to myself, The lady is young. She approached nearer—and I said to myself (with a sense of surprise which words fail me to express), The lady is ugly!

Never was the old conventional maxim, that Nature cannot err, more flatly contradicted—never was the fair promise of a lovely figure more strangely and startlingly belied by the face and head that crowned it. The lady's complexion was almost swarthy, and the dark down on her upper lip was almost a moustache. She had a large, firm, masculine mouth and jaw; prominent, piercing, resolute brown eyes; and thick, coal-black hair, growing unusually low down on her forehead. Her expression—bright, frank, and intelligent—appeared, while she was silent, to be altogether wanting in those feminine attractions of gentleness and pliability, without which the beauty of the handsomest woman alive is beauty incomplete. To see such a face as this set on shoulders that a sculptor would have longed to model—to be charmed by the modest graces of action through which the symmetrical limbs betrayed their beauty when they moved, and then to be almost repelled by the masculine form and masculine look of the features in which the perfectly shaped figure ended—was to feel a sensation oddly akin to the helpless discomfort familiar to us all in sleep, when we recognise yet cannot reconcile the anomalies and contradictions of a dream.

domingo, janeiro 25, 1981

Catch Tapeworms: "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins

(Original Review, 1981-01-25)

Beauty is completely subjective, and in Victorian times when this novel was written, the ideal of beauty was extremely different to what we would consider attractive now. Blond, blue eyed, curly hair and very pale was considered lovely. Women went to incredible lengths to achieve the paleness - even deliberately trying to catch consumption or tapeworms as that would help achieve the extreme paleness, weakness and general lying on the sofa because you are too pathetic to do anything else look. This is not a general look that is found attractive nowadays. Then, just simply having dark hair / eyes was enough to be considered 'ugly'. And then, Marion’s sheer physical energy and liveliness would have been found unappealing and a bit disgusting (I seem to remember from the book that she favoured 'natural dress', eschewing all the corseting necessary to achieve the Victorian shape), whereas today that is much more in line with what we find attractive.

In my opinion, Rosanna's interest is twofold: on the one side her character provides the melodramatic ingredient essential to any typical sensation novel, which is the genre that constituted Collins's main audience; on the other, the secrecy of her behaviour allows The Moonstone to linger for a couple of hundred pages more than it normally would on a modern narrative. Besides a myriad of details concerning the full gallery of personages in the novel, The Moonstone's inordinate (for a thriller) page-count relies on two main facts:

a) Rachel's refusal to recount the fateful night's chain of events;
b) Rosana's intriguing responses and sudden disappearance.

Without Rosanna Spearman The Moonstone would be a much shorter novel; but it's all due to Collins's talent that he could make so much with so little. Rosanna Spearman is indeed a very interestig character. Her real origins are covered in mystery but Collins drops some hints as to her possible genteel upbringing despite her former career as a thief and sojourn in the reformatory school. One of the other characters (I forget whom) notices her demeanour as that of a lady's, and then there's the famous letter. That someone with her bas-fonds criminal record writes so well can only mean she had a fairly good education. On the other hand, a letter as long as hers functions as a device for the author to enrich a whole installment of the serial while keeping the readers' curiosity in check. She can't confide in anyone and people don't really know what she's up to. She's also given quite a lot of license, even understanding, allowing her to be on her own. She is intriguing though. Surprised no one's been along to write her back story in same way as some of the Bronte's characters have had their stories told by later writers....

Collins's social awareness is still at its most embrionary level in “The Moonstone”, at least in what concerns Rosanna Spearman. We know almost nothing about her, and I believe that was the author's express intention, so as to spread a cloud of mystery over the conditions of her birth and upbringing; the reader can only speculate about Rosanna's identity. It's easy to feel a certain empathy towards the character because of the misery she appears to exude, but let's not forget she seems well treated in the Verinder household, benefits from Betteredge's leniency and her mistress's protection. The fact that she's not popular among the rest of the staff has nothing to do with her origins or situation in life. To be honest there's not much with which to weave a social case out of her; unhappiness and unrequited love are not themes limited to class discrepancies and I really feel Collins's purpose was to make a sentimental point not a social one.

quinta-feira, janeiro 22, 1981

Boarding Schools: "Tom Brown's Schooldays" by Thomas Hughes

(Original Review, 1981-01-22)

The issue of class and elitism (subjects dear to my heart) are, paradoxically, less important in these boarding school books than the fact that the children/teenagers are on a metaphorical island. They are without what in fictional terms is either the safety belt of having parents to look after them if they get into scrapes or of the social realism of having to deal with boring, dull, irritating parents in the form and shape the reader is likely to meet.

So the characters can be vulnerable, brave, cheeky etc but they have to do it with these surrogate parents, (teachers etc) who don't have the same sanctions and same psychological links and hooks that parents have. The school format also gives the writer the possibility of writing about a range of surrogate parent types and so can deal with children's 'split' view of their parents (love'em/hate'em etc).

In a way, a lot of the books, then, aren't really psychologically about private boarding schools about the reader's anxieties about how to make out in a world without your parents.

I'm not sure Harry Potter books are any more elitist than the myths of Moses or Jesus. They are messiah myths which means you can focus on the idea that the messiah will save us all or - flip it - and it's about the kinds of trials and quests that the messiah figure will need to do in order to win his crown...even though it's pre-ordained that he will. Ultimately, yes, this is elitist, but not in a social realist sense. More, in a mythic sense that socially we 'need' some kind of prince to 'save' us from an imperfect world. (As an ideology, I think that's crap. As a storytelling device, it's compelling because it induces us to care about someone who the world doesn't yet know or appreciate is 'the special one'. Doesn't that appeal to the part of us that thinks that about ourselves...'I'm special, but the world doesn't know that yet...' Whilst giving us hope that the world could be improved if only it woke up to the fact that it has a messiah in its midst.

The point about boarding school stories, at least for the purposes of the author, is that they give your protagonists an environment where authority and pastoral care are thinly spread, maybe intermittent, but extant, thus falling between the extremes of a closely observed and nurturing family life, where you'll get caught pretty smartly if you try anything wild (note that Will Stanton in the much-praised 'The Dark is Rising' is the youngest of a family of nine, and so over-anxious care is pretty thin on the ground for him too), and the full-on anarchy of 'Lord of the Flies'.

I understood the worlds of Bunter and Jennings very well, and have never derived anything much from their stories other than mild amusement and the occasional conspiratorial smile because their world was real to me and therefore not very interesting. I've always revered Kipling, but detested Chalky. What a smart-arse. He wouldn't have lasted long at my school before experiencing the dark, lonely horrors of being sent to Coventry, I can tell you. Hogwarts? There's fantasy for you. Great stories, crappy literature! But Molesworth is best as any fule no.

I recently read, and loved, a modern story (probably written for older kids), not about a boarding school but about a school trip which takes place in a closed environment. It was Pandemonium by Christopher Brookmyre. Great fun.

domingo, janeiro 18, 1981

Pyramid Selling: "Tales From Shakespeare" by Charles and Mary Lamb

(Original Review, 1981-01-18)

The book industry is becoming like the film industry; no new ideas so just reboot or copy a previous story...Star Trek Into Darkness being the most cynical by simply reorganizing original a Trek film script and a couple of cases word for word.

"Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead" (an) "interesting, imaginative reworkings of Shakespeare". Up to a point, Lord Copper. R&G riffs marvellously on Hamlet. But it relies on the audience having a pretty solid knowledge of the play, even down to some of the more minor characters in it, and being able to fit them into the large context. The basic pitch --- that the smaller characters have lives of their own --- plays out in front of the (almost completely unseen) "other play". I wonder how many people enjoy R&G without having Hamlet pretty well to hand: not many, to judge from the dire film of it a few years ago.

It's one thing to write a text that stands on its own but uses some elements of Shakespeare for those that want to spot it (10 Things I Hate About You) and another to write a text that is intimately bound up with a text you're assumed to know (R&G). But what's being proposed here is a standalone text which doesn't assume you know the play already, but which also provides a gloss on (presumably) most of the play. Whole other situation.

(Amusingly, an extract from R&G was one of the unseen texts in the SAT "English Literature" subject test this month. That must have been fun for some of the people taking it). I'm not 'against' it like some of the commenters seem to be but this is about the 100th time I can remember in the last 20 years or so that there has been some scheme to 'bring Shakespeare back to life' and it is pretty daft.

Shakespeare is still important to the 'template' for drama, scholars will point out that he (or they...) didn't invent anything but wherever it comes from people are still using Shakespeare all the time.
One would think writers, if they have any professional integrity at all, would have sufficient respect for another writer to leave his work alone. But then, of course, there's that money-thing that tempers respect for others.

Let's see: Shakespeare died, and five centuries later rewriting his works (which is not at all the same as creating original adaptations, whether it is Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead or West Side Story), but rewriting his works. What a way to note his death: arrogantly believing his works need resurrecting and thinking you can manage it. Oh, my.

I can't help feeling as though this is like 'pyramid selling' as the whole exercise stinks of little to do with literature. "IT", I believe is another prime example of the risk averse publishers exploitation. Exploiting Shakespeare - again, exploiting the talent of authors by coercing them to void originality and re-hash, and exploiting consumers with such a blatant marketing spin. Random House should know better, this, even if good will be the literary equivalent of big brother. The literati academics are quick to knock Jourdan and her 50th book out (she must be the only author to have written more books than she has read) - but this is just a highbrow version of the same thing!

This has nothing to do with writing, or literature, just sales. I know I got some shit because of the style and content of my book, but at least I can stand up and say it had integrity. Sadly, I remember the National Gallery pulling a similar carry-on with famous paintings.

The idea that contemporary authors cannot create genuinely new work inspired by the canon is very narrow, and if you'll forgive me, probably held by people who are not themselves writers. Winterson has frequently proposed in her own novels that stories are not linear, static objects. She has an extraordinary gift of invention and I am sure is quite capable of adding to the joy of The Winter's Tale by working through in her own mind what the play might mean to her, and to us. Even school-level reading of Shakespeare is an act of reinvention and interpretation. I think we should look forward to that act being performed by a writer of her distinction. But will their poetic and dramatic skills be up to it ? If genuine, why not bring to the masses more overlooked greats like Chaucer, Blake, Homer? We all know Shakespeare is a household name, throw in a known writer and BOOM - literary recycling. 

segunda-feira, janeiro 12, 1981

This Time Ancient: "Absalom, Absalom!" by William Faulkner

(Original Review, 1981-01-12)

It is sometimes uncomfortable reading things from other eras - for example I´m a big fan of William Faulkner who was in many ways ahead of the curve on race for his day - if the average KKK member had been more into modernist avant-garde fiction than I imagine they were, he´d probably be having crosses burned outside his house left right and centre - but definitely a bit weird about women at times.

Or take for example Dante - who as a medieval Catholic believed in all kinds of things I´m deeply opposed to (though it´s interesting the parts in Inferno when he expresses more sympathy are often precisely the parts a modern reader might also have more difficulty accepting the person´s fate - compare how sympathetically he views the homosexuals or suicides compared to the corrupt priests orthe violent for example - but like everyone at that time he just accepted certain things as fact that nowadays we don´t, namely that God would condemn them all to hell.

But in many ways it´s precisely reading thing written by people who believe in values or have experienced a world totally different from our own that makes it worthwhile. It broadens our understanding of the human condition and how people react to it, helps us see what´s constant and what is more fluctuating and impermanent.

Values are very much impermanent - they can´t be shown logically, they can´t be proved empirically, and are just shifting products of social circumstances. People can only be judged by the standards of their own time. Who knows what any of us would think or feel had we grown up in a different time with different customs and more limited sources of information? Realising this is in fact the key to genuine tolerance rather than the enforced "I find this offensive so let´s ban it kind" of "tolerance" which is not what the author is in fact arguing for.

The fact that some people on the left, and note I say "some", do feel that their own values are permanent and can be applied to all eras, is for me just nostalgia for religion, a form of existential angst. People resist the idea that their values are not particularly solid, it´s part of rejecting our human freedom and our capacity for self-defense and free-thought. In this some of the more rigid PC thinkers show a lot in common with religious conservatives on the right, who also mistake their rather modern literalist interpretations of religion for something eternal and unchanging. In both cases it´s quirk of personality rather than a properly though out philosophical position I feel. It´s fascinating how religiosity, ease of offence, literal mindedness and humourlessness so often go together as a form of syndrome, making me wonder if there is some underlying cognitive variable, such as intolerance towards ambiguity or inability to grasp metaphorical thought....

Meanwhile, the rest of us will carry on reading things from other, less "enlightened" times (and how will our own look to "those who will consider this time ancient", as Dante put it?), reading critically when necessary and with some discomfort, but still reading and learning and gaining enjoyment from them.....

sábado, janeiro 10, 1981

Culture Change: "The Secret of Chimneys” by Agatha Christie

(Original Review, 1981-01-10)

By the time she died, few people probably remembered the casual Antisemitism of Agatha Christie's early books (try The Secret of Chimneys); the prejudice had ceased to be fashionable, and she'd stopped expressing it. Chesterton's antisemitism was deeper, and maybe he'd have kept it up longer; but his basic good sense and kindness would surely have ruled that odious tic out, in a different age.

I too have been re-reading or trying to re-read some old favourites. It is one good way to see how much the accepted norms of a culture change over time. I often muse as to what our culture currently finds commonplace but will be regarded as completely unacceptable in 50 or 100 years, or perhaps sooner. Eating other animals leaps to mind as a strong possibility. This may become taboo either because of the callous treatment of food source animals such as battery chickens or because of the heavy environmental impact of raising animals for food.  If this does come about, I imagine contemporary cookbooks will be viewed, literally, as food porn. And film scenes in which the characters partake of a juicy steak - horrors! We are all shaped by our culture and are not responsible for, or able to bear the burden of, choices that are made by our posterity.

I read a lot of Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie years ago but the sentiments did not shape me either.
Past written books are fine; it's understood that they are old and should be viewed in the context of their author's time. It may be worth thinking that if these same authors were to write nowadays, their literature would be very different.

By the same token, some comments I’ve read are a step on the way to rounding up and 'disappearing' political dissidents. Fortunately, pointing this out is obviously nonsensical because it's such a tiny step, and there are so many other things that would need to happen on the way, and people are capable of taking decisions about each of those steps independently based on fuller criteria. What, criticising racist attitudes of the past leads inevitably to book-burning? Can you explain how?

quarta-feira, janeiro 07, 1981

Gray vs. Black: "The Story of Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman

(Original Review, 1981-01-07)

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, anyone?

The whole notion of "tainted classics" gives me the creeps. "Tainted?" Sez who? But changing them to make them more PC is even creepier. Read on...

This is a true story, although it's hard to believe. In the 1980's I was perusing the selection on offer in the children's section of an otherwise wonderful bookstore, the kind long gone now. I was absolutely staggered to pick up a book--an actual, in-my-hand book--called "Little Gray Sambo." I stood there and read it: I had to make sure it wasn't a "fake" of some kind. But no. It was a re-telling of "Little Black Sambo" with the central character changed to...gray. It was beyond bizarre. Publish it or don't publish it. But...gray? Not too long after, I was in again. Same store, same section. Oscar Wilde. The Selfish Giant. The whole final bit where the giant realises the child he has longed to see is the Christ child was lopped off and a few clumsy sentences appended. Cutesy drawings and a fuzzy-focus lesson in "sharing." Censorship at work.

Children aren't stupid, and they won't turn into racists because they pick up an old classic from their grandparents' childhood shelves and read a good yarn that also includes attitudes we deplore. A lot of "boys own" or girl adventures had bucketloads of this stuff. Yet some of us marched for civil rights, are wary of what drives foreign policy, and are straight allies of LGBTQI family and friends. Remember, children are now receiving a culture (which itself will change) that has changed its attitudes. They can suss out quite a bit for themselves. Give them some credit. If the author of this piece wants to purge (deliberate usage there) her shelves, she can. If she wants to keep her kids' minds unsullied, she can. But I would be more inclined to let the old grubby-binding friends sit where they are. If my kids read them, I might ask if they noticed attitudes, and go from there.

And if we purge or avoid or hand-wringing, we lose the frames of reference and foundations for comparison. It's vital to be able to say to our children and each other, yes, this is the way it was, here are the ways in which these issues still exist, let's see how we can involve ourselves in positive ways. Elsewhere I cited Pepys, and his treatment of and attitude toward women in the 1660s - and what society right now is without the very same domestic problems? Racial issues are somewhat improved but hardly vanquished . . . we have kilometres to go yet, and the old(er) non-PC literature is one of the beacons along the way. Avoid it and we'll just continue chasing our tails instead of continuing social progress.

segunda-feira, janeiro 05, 1981

Cooks and Boxrooms: "Father Brown Stories" by G. K. Chesterton

(Original Review, 1981-01-05)

When I was 9 or 10 I loved reading about Sherlock, Father Brown, Pop Larkin, Billy Bunter, Bertie and Jeeves, Just William, etc., etc. Also E. Nesbit. At the same time there was a range of Puffin books that gave me Erik the detective, the dalmatians, One End Street and others. And there was the Children's Book Club -- a monthly hardback volume -- those titles seem to have disappeared, but I half remember them and would be fascinating to revisit them.

All these classic sources of children's literature contain, to a greater or lesser extent, the values of those days -- some of which we now regard as beyond the pale. But I don't see, despite the huge expansion of writing for children and young adults, material that is so memorable. So much of what kids read now is referential to their current situation, or is complete fantasy. The books I am talking about were about something real, but an escape from our suburban middle-class lives.

Is there a case for carefully re-editing some of these works to filter out the mostly unimportant references that are now unacceptable in our multicultural society? It is no different to what any editor would do to a new manuscript, should it be necessary. For an analogy, when a theatre company plays Shakespeare, the director invariably makes judicious alterations to the script to make it more acceptable and accessible to a 21st century audience (including children).

It is already widely done in children's books - for instance, the timeless appeal of Enid Blyton's adventures for Children (what used to bemuse me was that all Blyton's families had cooks and boxrooms, but most of the stories seemed harmless), have had their dated and for today's sensibilities, unacceptable edges, knocked off and tidied up. For adults, i think it is important to have their original format still available (e.g., “Titty in Swallows and Amazons was renamed Kitty for a while. I don't know what she is now...)

If only we can restrict our reading to what's socially/politically/culturally acceptable as the status-quo today there would be no problem...certainly no Raymond Chandler.... nor Shakespeare, nor Conrad....  and certainly no Louis-Ferdinand Céline. I think our reading would be restricted to the side of packet of cereal.

Of course G. K. Chesterton's description of black people is vile -- so is Conan Doyle's. Yes, the culture of the past is deeply corrupt -- but so is our own. If we keep all the writing of the past in front of us -- including the worst things written by the best writers -- it might keep nudging us to keep watch for our own blind spots, our own hypocrisy.

sexta-feira, janeiro 02, 1981

Byronesque Bad Boys: "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë

(Original Review, 1981-01-02)

The “dog scene” does not exist in the book as some sort of sick foreplay; it’s actually an extremely clever piece of writing. Besides showing Heathcliff total disregard for Isabella, it’s a reality check for those girls with romantic notions about Byronesque “bad boys”. Isabella is so infatuated, that she cannot understand, although he flaunts it on her face ( that’s what makes the scene interesting) that what she takes for intensity and romantic darkness is actually plain cruelty. Isabella is selective in what she chooses to see, she wants to run away with this man everyone calls dangerous and not even the fact he hangs her pet dog stops her on her tracks. As we will see later in the book she does eventually find out he’s actually a plain domestic abuser, but by then she has been totally crushed.
It’s not Emily’s fault people see Heathcliff as some sort of romantic hero, just like Isabella readers have been choosing what they want to highlight or disregard.

The book has been adapted many times - mostly very badly and there a misunderstanding that this is a romantic novel so people are confused and disappointed in it. It’s also been lampooned many times. Actually it’s an extraordinary brilliant observation of the effect of neglect in early childhood, long before child psychiatry. There is no whitewashing and the damage done as an infant to Heathcliffe is permanent despite the kindness of the Earnshaws. He destroys what he loves and others with him. The character of Nelli Dean is also brilliantly drawn. She understands more than anyone but is forced to observe on the sidelines as a servant as the family and then another family is pulled into the tragedy. I love the story of her refusal to accommodate her precious piano pupils play time and her preference to the dog.

The Brontës lived though a traumatic childhood and survived a boarding school which sounded like a pro type for the workhouses. Haworth at the time had greater social deprivation than the east end of London, with all the alcoholism, drugs, disease and violence that went with it and their brother brought home daily. Orphans and abandoned children were bought like slaves from London to work in the mill towns and as vicarage daughters were expected to help out with the night schools their father had organised. They weren’t sheltered - they saw the lot which is why no doubt Emily Brontë drew the character of an abandoned orphan child so well. Emily Brontë refused to admit to her consumption and was kneading bread the morning she died. Like Elizabeth, first she remained standing for as long as possible only finally lying down just before she died.

Child neglect, for whatever reason, it was one of the themes in Wuthering Heights” that stroked a chord with me, and I do not think it’s explored enough. The fact that Heathcliff decided to replicate his own abuse by inflicting it on Hareton, with the expectation that he would turn out as “twisted” as him as form of vengeance is quite interesting. Even more interesting is the fact Emily chose to make that experiment a failed one; even before that advent of child psychology, she clearly understood that the experience of abuse and neglect is unique to the individual, and the way people react to it unpredictable. That’s something that bewildered Heathcliff, and in a way, the realisation that he could not make people as detestable as he was, even though they have also been victimised, contributed to, by the end to make him him even more unstable.