Monday, January 18, 2021

Monday, January 18, 2021 12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
A new Brontë-related scholar paper just published:
Madeline Reynolds 
Nineteenth-Century Contexts (2021) , DOI: 10.1080/08905495.2020.1816083

 The opening scene of Wuthering Heights (1847), in which Mr Lockwood first meets his new landlord, Mr Heathcliff, is not only a famous example of misreading, but specifically a moment where the new tenant anthropomorphizes badly. In his introduction to the estate, Lockwood expects to find a dignified country house where animals submit to the control of their masters as pampered pets. Instead, upon entering the Wuthering Heights kitchen, Lockwood gets physically attacked by the estate's dogs and verbally attacked by his landlord, establishing parity between dogs and human owner. When the leader of the pack, the canine mother, snarls, Heathcliff does the same: "'You'd better let the dog alone,' growled Mr Heathcliff, in unison" (Brontë 1995, 6). Heathcliff shares the dog's animosity toward outsiders and expresses it in the same way, at the same moment. Like his dog, Heathcliff is not domesticated. He refuses to let other men control him and he does not allow social mores to dictate his behavior. He frankly confesses to Lockwood that "guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I and my dogs, I am willing to own, hardly know how to receive them" (7-8). In this curious syn-tactical structure, Heathdiff defies grammatical conventions by placing "I" before "my dogs," establishing himself as master and the dogs as minions. But the fact that he categorizes the dogs as hosts, receiving guests as inhospitably as himself, reveals the similarity between them. Heathcliff, himself, acts as a sort of watchdog and his dogs adopt their master's misanthropy.

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