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“Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reserve-discourse, including the one that laughs at the very idea of pronouncing the word ‘silence,’ the one that, aiming at the impossible, stops short before the word ‘impossible’ and writes it as ‘the end.’ ” (Cixous 2049)

“May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve.” Attributed to Sappho, written by Cha[i], who then later writes, she is “exchangeable with any other heroine in the story.” (30)… Sybil. Demeter. Persephone. Gertrud. Princess Pari. Queen Min. Yu Guan Soon. Joan of Arc. St. Therese of Lisieux. Laura Claxton’s sister. Clio. Calliope. Urania. Melpomene. Erato. Elitere. Thalia. Terpsichore. Polymnia. Mnemosyne. Hyung Soon Huo. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Daughter. Mother. Unnamable Women.

 

Dictee is a nonlinear, multilayered, fragmented, cyclical text written in white ink,[ii] an act of giving blood. The life force transfers from one body to another. The self dissolves into, with, because of, the transmutability of selves.

 

Before we recognize the fluidity of selves and language, there must be a brief paragraph given to the “Word,” the “One.” This Signifier[iii], this One, has been all pervasive, has dominated social structures, linguistic structures, and narrative structures. Everything was (arguably still is) in a hierarchy. The binary structure of opposition. In short, there is a cage match.

 

In the red corner: Man! With his… speech, immediacy, presence, light, truth, logos, oneness, his God and his penis.

 

And.

 

In the blue corner: Woman! With her… deferral, difference, absence, darkness, lack, lawlessness, multiplicity, her heterogeneity, and her vagina, that terror.

 

But. The blue corner never wins.[iv] She’s been doomed, damned, cunt-shunted. So she’s kept quiet, silent, living in veils and shadows, wrapping herself in shawls and enigmas. This is where Cixous asks women to break through, start an aphonic revolt, leave not a single space untouched within language that is man’s alone. She wants us to “dislocate this annihilating within….explode it…impregnate it!” (Cixous 2049) Cha does exactly this.[v]

 

She writes in a borrowed tongue, in her allotted English language, and several others, but asks the reader to translate (part of) the text into French. This is not written solely for a bilingual audience; she wants the reader to experience the “in between.” Her side-by-side prose of English and French[vi] requires something to be lost in the (impossibly) direct translation. French to English, and vice versa, will never be, it cannot be exact. Her words, no matter the language, are then veiled as well, exposed as being cloaked in mystery, proving that that the invisible is complicated, but not unexplorable.

 

Silence, Mnemosyne[vii], memories, passivity, waiting, they’re all part of the invisible. Cha describes the pain of waiting inside a pause, waiting inside herself, as unbearable. “The wait from pain to say,” (4) she says, the mute diseuse, who secretly waits within their structure, multiplying, wrapping every word in tinfoil or black lace. She lives inside the void, inside the terrifying in-between structure, the space where the she makes her voice, gets the strength to speak. Just to speak.

From: ‘Dictee’ Takes the Stage. Author: Julie Ha

This is not a matter of castration, of control, of winning, but rather the point is to “dash through and to fly.”[viii] (Cixous 2050) Woman’s subversiveness is her own anonymity. Cixous claims women are givers, they can merge without annihilating themselves, flow from one woman to the next. “Her language does not contain, it carries.” (Cixous 2052) Words blend from one word to the next. Women, like words, are alive because they transform. They are always becoming.

 

“The woman arriving over and over again does not stand still; she’s everywhere, she exchanges.” (Cixous 2056) In other words, she is a metamorphosing collage of multiple voices. Cha’s (re)writing history, embodying the Muses, giving them voices, freeing them from their original patriarchal shackles, and this includes not making them speak only through men, in their male language, with their phallologocentric stories of beginnings, middles, and ends, their epic poems.

 

All Cha’s figures, all her narratives, begin in the middle; they always relate to another story: the Mother.

 

Dictee is not a traditional epic poem. It is not about man’s rise to glory, the glory of the gods, or a best or first of anything.[ix] Helene P. Foley argues “that the female version of the heroic quest is defined by issues relating to marriage and fertility and ends with a cyclical reunion and separation that also mitigates death.”[x] Dictee’s Muses no longer conceal their sorrow. They illustrate that there is something inherently traumatic in the female position.

 

Cha speaks of a series of concentric circles, which can be translated to a series of returns and departures, a code of trauma, meaning both the traumatic event is cyclical, perpetually returning to haunt the survivor contemplating the impossibility of their own death, and also that one’s own trauma is tied up with the trauma of another. Trauma has a mute repetition of suffering,[xi] a festering silence, a wound. “Trauma seems to be much more than a pathology, or the simple illness of a wounded psyche: it is always the story of a wound that cries out, that addresses us in the attempt to tell us of a reality or truth that is not otherwise available. This truth, in its delayed appearance and its belated address, cannot be linked only to what is known, but also to what remains to be unknown in our very actions and our language.” (Caruth 4)

 

The wound is another, an Other, a foreign object inside the body[xii], a divided self. “It festers inside. The wound, liquid, dust. Must break. Must void.” (3) The Koreans, and women, do not own their imagery. They must dictate what is spoken to them using the oppressor’s language. They swallow the wound. It weeps.

 

Dictee is the wound crying out. And because it’s not fully understood, because it’s related to the suppression, to a mini-death, the speech comes out broken, in fragment – without the attempt at sewing them together. To create links is to manipulate; to do as the oppressors do. According to écriture feminine,this is a masculine trait of dominance, and consumption.[xiii] The one creating the links is the one that controls the image-repertoire. Cha, like Cixous, is requesting a new mode of reading, a new mode of listening, not a new language.

 

This is further explored with Cha’s use of curtailed images of suppressed history. Anne Anlin Cheng suggests that “redeeming these images has frequently only served to re-violate them.” (Cheng 121) The repressed no longer own the images of themselves. These images become images of the action, belonging to the oppressors. Cheng follows with both the urgency and the impossibility of rerecording history, echoing the mindset of Caruth: History arises within the impossibility of understanding.

 

Cha is (re)presenting the trauma of an entire nation and the female gender. Both language and image are insufficient to accurately describing the horror, the subjugation, the effacement. “Unfathomable the words, the terminology: enemy, atrocities, conquest, betrayal, invasion, destruction.” (32) These words are the opposite of Cha’s epitaph, they do not recognize the irony of their own stability as words. The act of seeing these images reappropriated into Japanese history, or hearing the empty signifier, erases the reality of any event. Cha is preventing that from happening again; she’s preventing the reoccurrence of removal by not attempting to explain, to master. The image, like trauma, cannot be mastered. This is an embrace of the cyclical quality of trauma, its arrivals and departures, the series of concentric circles.

 

Through her analysis of Hiroshima Mon Amour, Cathy Caruth discusses a similar situation about both Korea’s oppressors. “The knowledge of Hiroshima, for the French, understood not as the incomprehensible occurrence of the nuclear bombing of the Japanese but as the knowledge they call ‘the end,’ effaces the event of a Japanese past and inscribes it, as a referent, into the narrative of French History.” (Caruth 29) Cha understands that this is a nationwide, corrosive occurrence. The postmodern subject has a difficult time grounding herself within the constructs of the image and the reappropriations of words, languages, and texts. The abstract enemy, the relationship between self and enemy, becomes larger because of what’s at stake: total consumption. In the language of binary opposition, the enemy is all that the self is not, and therefore, runs, and fears the constant risk of its own “ontological security.”[xiv]

 

The self recognizes itself as a being in the world, inextricably dependent on that world, and not the other way around.[xv] People exist as beings defined by Others who carry models of us in their heads, just as we carry models of them in our heads. Laing explains that a schizophrenic turns herself into a “thing”[xvi] to reduce herself from being in the world. When one’s identity is constantly being threatened, and because the being relates to the world through her body, she disembodies herself to transcend the world and be safe.

 

If Dictee’s subject(s): Woman qua silence, qua subservient, Other, separated from Mother, from Motherland, experiences a double separation, double subservience, then what is lost turns into loss. The reader is asked to empathize, particularly during Calliope’s segment where the text is written in second person, but Cha refuses to let the reader get grounded in a particular protagonist, a particular subject. Cha seeks to break down the representation of trauma as liminality. Both Dictee and trauma deny any sort of mapping within the ontological framework; R.D. Laing would consider this kind of division schizophrenic.

 

I would argue this “divided self” represents yesterday’s woman,[xvii] the woman that turns herself into an object, that defines her sexuality only through the male gaze, through the masochistic desire to be looked at; this is the woman that completely identifies with the androcentric stagnation of masculine “Truth.”

 

The Freudian system of sexuality is based on looking because it privileges the penis,[xviii] thus privileging the visible. This masochism is forced upon the woman, meaning pleasure does not reside in her, but refers back on male sexuality.

 

Luce Irigaray reminds us that the very nature of woman’s self, her sexuality, is auto-erotic, in that the woman is constantly touching herself[xix] since her vagina is composed of two embracing lips. She says that with herself, woman is already two, and not divisible into one, and she translates this feminine auto-eroticism into feminine discourse or writing. “This ‘style’ does not privilege sight; instead it takes each figure back to its source, which is among other things tactile. It comes back into touch with itself in that origin without ever constituting in it, constituting itself in it, as some sort of unity… It is always fluid, without neglecting the characteristics of fluids that are difficult to idealize: those rubbing between two infinitely near neighbors that create a dynamics.” (Irigaray 79)

 

According to Irigaray, the feminine “style” of writing is filled with ebb and flow, multiple beginnings, and multiple paths. And this is what Cha emphasizes with the nonlinear narrative of her female heroines, all of which transcend the patriarchy, all of which ebb and flow into one another.[xx] This nonlinear approach interferes with historical practice, which is most ironically portrayed by Clio. Not only does Cha connect historical events with fragments of Guan Soon’s biography, she also literally rewrites history in order to voice a history from a woman’s perspective.[xxi]

 

Every character loops around and connects to every other female character through the omnipresent trope of the mother-daughter relationship. And she mythologizes her “real life characters” in order to make the personal public, thus furthering the subversion of the epic poem.

 

Each woman is connected through various mothers as well as their refusals to yield to the oppressive patriarchal forces of imperialism. The Elysian Fields, to which Cha alludes to, are not just a place of heavenly female experience, but a place of real heartache as well. Cha promotes the experience of woman by trickling one woman into the next in such a way as to disrupt all linear assumptions by deleting the bridges history deems necessary to create.

 

The nonlinear is deeply connected with the unnamable in that there is no determinable beginning or end, and without the abrupt packages the masculine “style” creates, all “Truth,” in its phallologocentric forms, is unraveled and taken away from its inherent morbidity. Men have thought that the only two unrepresentable things are death and the female sex,[xxii] but Cha shows that the female sex is not unrepresentable, it was just unrepresentable within the oppressive confines of the masculine system of referents. But now the ironclad chain linking the signifier and signified is broken.

 

Again, this breaking is not a violent castration, but a delicate process of veiling and unveiling. As a woman’s body may become “full” with child, language, words become full with double meanings. The Freudian binary system of sexuality explodes with this addition of multiplicity. And by the very definition of multiplicity the penis is not excluded, just no longer privileged. Cha is refusing to call herself, which at this point includes all women, a lack, a nothing: “transform this nothingness into fire.” (111) She wants love to lower itself to nothingness, to the realm of the woman, for a true and total union. Echoing the words: “I do desire the other for the other, whole and entire, male or female; because living means that everything lives, and wanting it to be alive.” (Cixous 2054)

 

And in this transition, death cannot, and will not be privileged over life. A mother lifts her child up to the window. The daughter witnesses the pulleys, the machine, the language of her mother’s time; she wants to see, to become a part of it: “Lift me to the window to the picture image unleash the ropes tied to weights of stones first the ropes then its scraping on wood to break stillness as the bells fall peal follow the sound of ropes holding weight scraping on wood to break stillness bells fall a peal to the sky.” (179) Break the stillness. Break the silence. Perpetual motion. Perpetually becoming. Peal away the layers. Appeler: to name. A peal. A name. Peal a name back, reveal more than one, render the thing, the itness of it, and all that entails, indescribable, unnamable.


Bibliography

DICTEE. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. University of California Press. 2001.

UNCLAIMED EXPERIENCE; TRAUMA, NARRATIVE, AND HISTORY. Cathy Caruth. The John Hopkins University Press. 1996.

THE LAUGH OF THE MEDUSA. Hélène Cixous. THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF THEORY AND CRITICISM. W.W. Norton & Company. 2001.

THE SEX WHICH IS NOT ONE. Luce Irigaray. Cornell University Press. 1985.

THE DIVIDED SELF. R.D. Laing. Pelican Books. 1965.

REWRITING HESIOD, REVISIONING KOREA: THERESA HAK KYUNG CHA’S DICTEE AS A SUBVERSIVE HESIODIC CATALOGUE OF WOMEN. Kun Jong Lee. COLLEGE LITERATURE 33.3. Summer 2006. Pg. 77

MEMORY AND ANTI-DOCUMENTARY DESIRE IN THERESA HAK KYUNG CHA’S DICTEE. Anne Anlin Cheng. MELUS 23.4. Winter 1998. Pg. 119


End Notes

1 “One of the first female writers who put women into the text, world, and history was Sappho… Cha [also] manifests her feminist position by identifying with Sappho: she writes the epigraph herself and attributes it to the Greek poet.” (Lee 78)

[ii] Not an obscure, angry, flat, and unreadable feminist text.

[iii] Penis.

[iv] In reality, given the Master/Slave dialectic, neither ever wins.

[v] “She begins the search the words of equivalence to that of her feeling. Or the absence of it. Synonym, simile, metaphor, byword, byname, ghostword, phantomnation. In documenting the map of her journey.” (140) The double-meanings, the nonwords, the semantics game.

[vi] Dare I say two lips?

[vii] In the Theogony, Mnemosyne disappears after giving birth to the nine muses.

[viii] Voler: to fly and to steal. The double meaning was originally implied.

[ix] M.M. Bakhtin: “The world of the epic is… a world of bests and firsts.” (Lee 87)

[x] As explained by Kun Jong Lee on pg. 92.

[xi] In contrast to the language of pain: the scream, cavewoman utterances.

[xii] A Migraine.

[xiii] Whoever controls the present controls the past…

[xiv] Phrase coined by Dr. R.D. Laing describing people that feel persecuted by reality itself.

[xv] Unless you’re a solipsist.

[xvi] He gives various examples from patients, such as a piece of wood floating in a pond.

[xvii] Cixous’s woman of yesterday: the woman silently dwelling.

[xviii] Hence, penis envy.

[xix] As Dictee illustrates in Erato’s Love Poetry section.

[xx] All of which transcend the limitations of their bodily identities.

[xxi] Guan Soon did not organize the March 1st riots in Seoul, but in her hometown Aunae, nor were the March 1st riots started after the assassination of Queen Min, who was murdered 24 years earlier. Cha specifically manipulates these details because she truly “regards the Queen as the symbol of Korea colonized by Japan and situates her at the origin Korea’s nationalist struggle against Japanese colonialism.” (Lee 87) And Guan Soon was popularly called the Joan of Arc of Korea; Cha wanted to “situate Guan Soon at the origin of the March First Movement, to portray the ‘woman soldier’ as an active agent of history; and to recenter the feminine voice from the margins of Korean nationalism.” (Lee 87)

[xxii] Which to men, Cixous points out, is equal to death.

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Wuthering Heights is… the egg, the nest, the hut, the house, the town, the country, the cathedral, the prison, the dungeon, the cellar door, the attic stairs, the coffin, the hearth, the unlit fire, the beating heart, the bloated brain, the lockbox, the womb, the Mother, the chair of the Father, the castle, the sky, the illusion, the home, the body, the universe.

Wuthering Heights is sitting, is looking, looking in, looking at, looking through a window.

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling. ‘Wuthering being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.’ [1]

tu·mult n

a.            a violent or noisy commotion

b.            a psychological or emotional upheaval or agitation (!)

1. House qua Universe.

The house is the first space a human being encounters. It is a representation, a trope of outside existence. Before a baby can understand itself as a thoughtful, rational, mortal being, before it can understand that it is a separate entity from its surroundings, it knows only the house and the people which inhabit it. “It is the human being’s first world.”[2]

It is where a child learns power dynamics, where they learn language, and (in most cases) love. It is the psychoanalytic seat of perpetual return. It is where the child forms, and creates, its self. “Life begins well, it begins enclosed, protected, all warm in the bosom of the house.”[3] The child’s first home is where Bacchelard locates memories. He says consistently, and constantly, that the adult will come back to it in daydreams, because s/he can’t think of anything more comforting than reliving the memories of early protection.

And it is in this comfortable, comforting way that Wuthering Heights retains the pleasures of the past. For Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights will always retain images of Catherine, of Mr. Earnshaw (the Father), and of overwhelming acceptance and love. This is why he is able to still desire and cherish the Heights when it changes into Hindley’s property. This is why the Height’s can still be his and Catherine’s, despite its sudden transformation into his and Isabelle’s. This is why Wuthering Heights takes on multiple meanings at once.

This is why Brontë only has a handful of characters, and all the action is centered around Wuthering Heights[4].

2. The Egg, not the embryo, the egg.

Though I do believe, and I will address this later in the paper, that, in a way, Wuthering Heights is an extension of both Catherine and Heathcliff’s body (in combination, can we say they fertilize the egg?), but my thoughts presently concern the house merely as a shelter, with a thin shell, a protective barrier. The creation of the embryo, or ovum, or life, is one of life’s greatest mysteries. “It is the formation, not the form, that remains mysterious.”[5] But the metaphysical can of worms aside, half of the egg is a container, and the other half precious cargo.

The narrative is born when Mr. Lockwood breaks, shatters, the protective barrier, the window, which Catherine Earnshaw/Heathcliff/Linton flies up against and tries to breakthrough. She inserts herself into the novel, propels the plot forward, and announces: “Wuthering Heights is haunted! Turn the page, find out how.” How dare Mr. Lockwood! But Heathcliff, the behemoth of a character, trembles, and falls into the nook, the even tinier home, the more enclosed, the safer bed/closet/dresser of Catherine Earnshaw. It is there he retreats to his memories, it is there he and Catherine made themselves “as snug as their means allowed in the arch of the dresser. [She] had just fastened [their] pinafores together, and hung them up for a curtain;”[6] It is there the children hid from their tyrannical dictators, dreamed, and disappeared. Like Aphrodite bursting forth from her shell, the love story of Catherine and Heathcliff begins.

3. The Nest/Womb.

“Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong.”[7] The architect: Emily Brontë, God, the Father (Mr. Earnshaw), a bird? Either way, Wuthering Heights is a resting place for offspring, where they learn, and grow, and prepare themselves for the outside world. In this way, it is Catherine and Heathcliff’s first microcosm. Within Wuthering Heights they expanded, and smeared themselves all over its walls until there was little distinction between them and the space they inhabited. They spread themselves out, hid their traumas and daydreams in the various objects and nooks. They became one with the space, the thing, making the reader think: if the house would burn, our protagonists would burn with it. Even when Catherine left, Heathcliff is consumed with empty nest, and whether or not we are to accept Catherine’s ghost as real, his recreation of her presence is as real and ghost-like as an actual ethereal figure. And say, as I truly believe, that Catherine does exist in some form, and that she did return to Wuthering Heights, and that she wants back inside the home that she and Heathcliff “built,” the ideal situation would be for her and him to copulate, lay an egg. But Bacchelard argues that nests (love nests) are a childish metaphor; utterly absurd. “Among birds, need I recall, love is strictly extracurricular affair, and the nest is not built until later, when the mad love-chase across the fields is over.”[8]

As to not sound childish, I will abandon this metaphor. Catherine and Heathcliff built the nest as they were falling in love, and their lovechild is merely the nest. Their baby is the womb itself, therefore, is an utter impossibility, which does fit in with the theme of Wuthering Heights, but Bacchelard says it’s childish and my space is limited. But, and this is my raison d’être, the nest is [a] breakable thing [wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king[9]].

4. The Hut, possibly the Hearth, and dare I say, Mother.

The noble savages…their haven in the lonely moors of Northern England…their simplest of human plants, their hut. There is no need for our heroes to fantasize about their primitive solitude, about floating on the ether, in total isolation, protected from the society, from monsters, from whathaveyou. “The hut immediately becomes this centralized solitude.”[10] Catherine and Heathcliff are utterly alone, there are only the other members of the household, and it’s an us versus them attitude. And they fight. They fight, they fly, they flee, but only into corners…Their bond is sacred, indestructible, and has no real threat. [See Figure 9.] “The hermit’s hut is an engraving that would suffer from any exaggeration of picturesqueness. Its truth must derive from the intensity of its essence, which is the essence of the verb ‘to inhabit.’ ”[11]

in·hab·it v

1.            vt to live in or occupy a particular place

2.            vt to be found in or pervade something

3.            vi to reside permanently in a place (!)

Demeter, Goddess of the Hearth, Goddess of the fruitful earth…the mourning mother. Nelly, servant, sister, mother, narrator: “If I can make any sense of your nonsense, Miss…it only goes to convince me…that you are a wicked, unprincipled girl. But trouble me no more with secrets. I’ll not promise to keep them.”[12] Pandora’s Box. For the first time, at least to us, Catherine’s thoughts: Heathcliff the eternal rocks, without him the universe would turn into a mighty stranger, I am Heathcliff…materialize into the house. These words echo, they bounce, off the walls, right into Heathcliff’s ears. Nelly cannot keep what is now mortared to the house. Nelly, the unbridled momma of morality, cannot keep these two savages at bay, cannot control their wicked desires, cannot stay at Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is abandoned yet again. There will be no more women on the Heights for awhile now.

Catherine as Persephone is taken away, but Linton is no Hades, she, herself, is her own Hades. She chose to eat the pomegranate, she chose to marry Linton (her justifications aside). Catherine is the underbelly, the underworld, the obverse of what is. Wuthering Heights moans and creeks in her absence, Catherine moans and croaks in its absence.

Demeter, giver of life, yet, also bringer of the dead. “As a fertility goddess, Demeter, concerned with what the earth brought forth, was connected with the dead.”[13] Life. Death. An unlit fire…Hearth. Listen to Lockwood speak of “what they call the ‘house’ preeminently” (the kitchen and the parlor) with my interruptions/interpretations/disfigurements: The kitchen is forced to retreat altogether into another quarter. No signs of roasting, boiling, or baking about the huge fireplace. (No sign of life, of the life force of fuel.) One end reflected (splendidly) both light and heat. (He gets the impression of the life force anyway from the objects, from the pewter, which tower with rows of silver, in an oak dresser, to the very roof.)[14] Does the whole house reflect Heathcliff’s demeanor? Is the attic collapsing into the cellar? Oh wait, I’m ahead of myself…

5. The Cathedral in/and the Attic. The Prison or Dungeon in/and the Cellar.

A house constitutes a body of images that give mankind proofs or illusions of stability.[15] (Duh.)

The house is a vertical being, the proof is the dichotomy between the attic and the cellar. Think total opposites. White. Black. Above. Below. Angel, or God, whatever. Devil. The rationality of the roof. The irrationality of the cellar. That one was Bacchelard’s. It’s obvious though. “A roof tells its raison d’être right away: it gives mankind a shelter from the rain and sun he fears.”[16] (Duh.) He says that up in the rafters all our thoughts are clear. In Wuthering Heights, sometimes, on Sunday, the attic becomes a cathedral. Church (Joseph) in the garret. Church, God, the watchful eye, in the attic. (Corners were punishment.) Catherine and Heathcliff hide. Putting God in the attic makes sense, ‘tis closer to the Heavens. But say I want to say Catherine represents the attic: Catherine represents the attic. And, guess what, Heathcliff represents the cellar.

“Mr. Heathcliff forms a SINGULAR CONTRAST TO HIS ABODE AND STYLE OF LIVING[17]…dark-skinned gypsy, in aspect, in dress, and manners a gentleman.”[18] Heathcliff is the Earnshaw’s skeleton. He is the monster everyone is afraid of. “In the cellar, darkness prevails both day and night.”[19] He is the secret.[20] When it concerns Catherine, Heathcliff is not the rational one. Heathcliff is rational in finances, in manipulation (yes, sometimes even when it concerns Catherine). But. And I know one will argue and stamp that Catherine herself is the pure embodiment of irrational, I’m giving this to her A.) to put her on a pedestal B.) for the sake of my argument C.) because she came up with a plan to sustain her and Heathcliff’s irrational love. Which is more than he did.

[“He’ll love and hate, equally under cover.”[21] Under cover of the roof. Oh!]

Catherine dies, always on page 122. “The cellar then becomes buried madness, welled-in tragedy.”[22] Heathcliff, in a nutshell.

6. The Coffin. The Beginning. The Middle.

Middle:

Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you- haunt me then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe- I know ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always-take any form-drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! It is unutterable! [23]

Beginning:

Lockwood wakes in the oak closet. Rapping against the window. A tree, a watchful stick, an anthropomorphized plant, its branch, arm, raps against the window. He wants to open the window, the hook was soldered to the staple. He breaks the glass, HE BREAKS THE PROTECTIVE LAYER, and Catherine’s ghost grabs his hand with icy (outside) fingers (inside). “Let me in – let me in!… I’m come home, I’d lost my way on the moor…I’ve been a waif for twenty years.”…Lockwood screams, the language of pain…Heathcliff rushes in. “How dare you, under my roof?”[24] He strikes his forehead with rage (attic?). Heathcliff gradually falls back into the shelter of the bed, as Lockwood speaks, finally, sitting down almost concealed behind it.

7. Heart and Brain (the naughty bits…) under Lockbox and Key[25].

It is impossible to consider Wuthering Heights belonging to anyone other than the Earnshaw’s, (and in this instance I’m considering Heathcliff an Earnshaw). Brontë created the setting, Wuthering Heights, around the family, and this setting was a categorical one, not a dialectical one, each member maintained their roles until a new one was bequeathed to them (as in the case with Mr. Earnshaw to Hindley and eventually to Heathcliff).

To think of Wuthering Heights as a skull, keeping the gray matter of the narrative within its boney walls, would be another way of viewing the Heights as a container, a shell. “Shells, like fossils, are to many attempts on the part of nature to prepare forms of different parts of the human body; they are bits of man and woman.”[26] Though this thought can easily be moved to Figure 1, its placement here denotes the dream-like function of the Heights as shell. A shell is mysterious, especially when the mind itself begins to regard itself as a prisoner inside such a shell. The mind both desires and dreads its freedom from its home, but like a snail without its shell, the body, the mucus membrane is vulnerable, and unless it returns has a much higher risk of death. And though this metaphor doesn’t hold true for children today, Catherine was unable to properly exude her hard shell. To her and Heathcliff the shell is not merely a covering that will be abandoned. Wuthering Heights is the home of her heart, without it she was doomed to perish.

“Everything about a creature that comes out of a shell is dialectical. And since it does not come out entirely, the part that comes out contradicts the part that remains inside.”[27] [Heathcliff.] In other words, the shell is a part of the creature. Just because the snail feels no pain when the shell is nicked doesn’t mean it could survive without it. Heathcliff realized this. Catherine, unfortunately, did only when it was too late. And now, because Heathcliff knows Wuthering Heights contains a part of her soul, is where her heart is, he keeps it safely secured, out of Hindley’s or Hareton’s hands. He keeps it bolted. Mr. Lockwood had to walk across the bleak hill. The earth was hard with black frost, it made him, the guest/intruder shiver. First, bushes blocked his passage. But then there was a latch. He was locked out. (“A lock is a psychological threshold”[28]…exactly.)

8. The Castle in the Sky.

The illusion: “ ‘Oh dear! I thought I was home,’ [Catherine] sighed. ‘I thought I was lying in my chamber at Wuthering Heights. Because I’m weak, my brain got confused, and I screamed unconsciously.’ ”[29] Catherine regressed. She retreated to her childhood home…to her soul. Living, existing in another space, another’s home, has driven her to madness. She begs for just a smell of the home so close yet so far away. She cannot bear the confinement of her new home, this foreign home. Catherine feels she has lost touch with herself; she feels as if she were not herself.

I wish I were out of doors- I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy and free…and laughing at my injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed? why does my blood rush into a hell of tumult at a few words? I’m sure I should be myself were I once again the heather on those hills…Open the window again wide, fasten it open! [30]

Catherine feels all would have been right had she still been safe under the protection of the Heights, had she been still inside the womb. She is recalling the moment she left home, her and Heathcliff’s endeavor into the other world, not out loud of course, but the regret trembles in the back of her throat.

First visit to Thrushcross Grange: the discovery of another universe. Catherine and Heathcliff ran from the top of the Heights to the park without stopping, Heathcliff recounts…“We crept through a broken hedge, groped our way up the path, and planted ourselves on a flower-pot under the drawing-room window. The light came from thence; they had not put up the shutters, and the curtains were only half closed.”[31] They were voyeurs, seeing the beckoning light, the Others, “through its light alone, the house becomes human.”[32] They saw the rich. They saw the Lintons. Crimson and gold, and no parents- no authority figures. They hated them. They shrieked. They ran. Catherine fell. The dog attacked her ankle, got her by her Achilles’ heel: her love affair with herself: her selfish self, and the selfish desire for money and power- her drive to hurt those she loves to ensure they love her back: Heathcliff.

Heathcliff’s illusions are more complicated than hers because his psyche is more complicated than hers. Mr. Heathcliff was the lover who waited, was the lover who returned. True, both lovers left and returned, but where Catherine left again (across the moors, to the same original point of departure), Heathcliff stayed (only Brontë knows where he ran off to) and cluttered the house with more sadomasochistic complexities, more illusions/delusions of grandeur. Also, and this will be further examined below, both protagonists suffer from their creation of horcruxes.

Not to mention the way both of them begin to view Wuthering Heights as the crème-de-la-crème of their happiness. If only, for once, they could own Wuthering Heights together, be the tyrannical Mistress and Master of their domain… They are dreaming/daydreaming, mythologizing the house into something sacred and healing. If only they could live together, inside their warm and wonderful womb, all would be solved and settled and perfect, forever.

[I am not dealing with the (metaphysical/metaphorical) debate surrounding whether or not Catherine’s ghost is Catherine (or at least a shade of her) or if it’s merely an illusion. It is more beautiful and relevant to accept the author’s words as fact, and it is highly relevant for my next figure.]

Also see Footnote 15.

9. The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Heathcliff’s first space, first resting place, in the Heights was at the top of the stairs, because, “from the very beginning, he bred bad feeling in the house,”[33] to everyone else, but not Mr. Earnshaw. But by Chapter 4, said Earnshaw grows weak and, to his resentment, is confined to the chimney-corner: the beginning of his immobility, his silence, his escaping into the walls. “The corner is a sort of half-box, part walls, part door.”[34] For Bacchelard, the corner is the chamber of being. Man is always half perpetual movement, half paralyzed parasite. The corner, the half wall, half open space, serves him as a metaphor for this duality. It is fitting that the final seat of the father, the space referred to earlier as “the house,” is the final resting space for Mr. Earnshaw. With his death, he’s passing down the human condition to his kin, and each behave according to their already assigned roles. Hindley becomes the tyrannical father. Catherine becomes the hot piece of ass on the market. Heathcliff becomes the dark man in waiting, the dweller in the shadows. And the house takes on these archetypes. It molds and reconfigures its space, its aura. Wuthering Heights becomes the place where memories are localized.

It is impossible to record thoughts and moments with perfect linearity. The very nature of thought resists such accurate archiving. As a result, people start to externalize their inner selves; they throw memories and feelings into objects. Memories, by definition[35], are motionless, it is space that relies on movement. “The finest specimens  of fossilized duration are to be found in and through space.”[36] This is exactly why Heathcliff keeps Catherine’s room intact, secure. Heathcliff is attempting to keep these memories as pristine, as untainted, as possible. This attempt is not irrational. If Lockwood, as he does, were to stay in Catherine’s room he would have wiped his being all over her walls, and quite possibly the new memory of Lockwood lying in her bed, reading her books, would not efface Heathcliff’s memories of Catherine in that space, but crowd them, force them to share that space. In a way, Heathcliff is safekeeping Catherine’s soul within her room, filling it with sacred objects, turning it into a shrine. In this way, Heathcliff has made a horcrux.

Of course, this rational protection requires Catherine’s absence. And though a ghost is in some form a presence, it is also, and mainly, an absence.

And of course also, it was that same impulse that inspires Heathcliff to fret about his will, namely who will inherit Wuthering Heights. “I wish I could annihilate it from the face of the earth.”[37] He cannot bear to think of another occupying his space, their space, the seat of his memories, the keeper of her soul, the space which contains their compressed time. He is not an organ donor.

10. House qua Body.


I think I have given sufficient evidence: the horcruxes, the beating hearts and bloated brains, that Wuthering Heights is alive, has flesh, and exists only because Catherine and Heathcliff exist inside of it. The day Heathcliff returns to Catherine, Brontë writes about Wuthering Heights and the mist surrounding Thrushcross Grange, the mist outside of the Linton’s window: “Wuthering Heights rose above this silvery vapour-but [the] old house was invisible- it rather dips down on the other side.”[38] Up until that moment Heathcliff was invisible. Catherine was not Catherine. (Catherine Linton ≠ Catherine Earnshaw.) Up until that moment both Catherine and Heathcliff were repressing the Heights, were repressing their childhoods, were repressing each other, their love.

Wuthering Heights has always matched the countenance of its occupants…“And far rather would I be condemned to a perpetual dwelling in the infernal regions, that even for one single night abide beneath the roof of Wuthering Heights again…I don’t like being left by myself in this grim house.”[39] But at one point Nelly blasted the day she left. Nelly is sensitive to auras…

Past, present and future give the house different dynamisms, which often interfere, at times opposing, at others, stimulating one another. In the life of man, the house thrusts aside contingencies, its councils of continuity are unceasing. Without it, man be a dispersed being. It maintains him though the storms of the heavens and through those of life. It is body and soul. [40]

Soul, according to Bacchelard. But. And this is a big but. Brontë was a Christian. She believes in the whole duality of the mind and body thing. There was a reason Heathcliff had to leave the inside of the house to die. (I can’t say he had to leave Wuthering Heights because the entire property is Wuthering Heights, but since I have mainly/only worked on the inside of the home I shall stick with the strict dichotomy between inside and outside.) Anyhoo. Heathcliff left the house. And Bacchelard highlights the aggressive and hostile duality of inside and outside, and he states that “when confronted with outside and inside, [philosophers] think in terms of being and non-being.”[41] [Inside is to mind as outside is to body.]

If the house is his and her body, it is extraordinarily fitting that both of them had to leave its protective layer (lair?) to expire. One could say he left the house in order to meet her, since she was unable to get inside without the help of another. (Was Heathcliff punishing her again? Or could they not be together until death? Probably the latter.) And since they rejected Christian doctrines, according to their stricter times, and according to Joseph, of course they were denied entrance into Heaven. But really. Their heaven is Wuthering Heights. Their home is Wuthering Heights, now and forever. Little Cathy and Hareton move into Thrushcross Grange (her childhood home) and give Wuthering Heights to its rightful owners, Catherine and Heathcliff. Thus, completing their illusion, and giving the reader (me) the happy ending I crave. Of course, Joseph will still be there, but he will only live in the kitchen, and it was decided in class that he was merely part of the setting anyway.


[1] Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Pg. 2. Dover Thrift Editions. © 1996. From here on out I shall be referring to this book as Heights, without italics.

[2] Bacchelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. Pg. 7 Beacon Press Books. © 1969. From here on out I shall refer to this book as Space, without italics.

[3] Space 7.

[4] This is why the title is the title.

[5] Space 106.

[6] Heights 14.

[7] Heights 2.

[8] Space 93.

[9] Heathcliff.

[10] Space 32.

[11] Space 32.

[12] Heights 60.

[13] Stapleton, Michael. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Mythology. Bell Publishing Company. © 1978.

[14] Heights 2.

[15] Space 17.

[16] Space 18.

[17] My Caps.

[18] Heights 3.

[19] Space 19.

[20] In the Wuthering Heights in my head Catherine and Heathcliff get it on constantly. I prefer it that way.

[21] Heights 18.

[22] Space 20.

[23] Heights 124.

[24] Heights 18.

[25] Key will not be addressed.

[26] Space 114.

[27] Space 108.

[28] Space.

[29] Heights 91.

[30] Heights 92.

[31] Heights 34.

[32] Space 35.

[33] Heights 27.

[34] Space 137.

[35] mem·o·ry n

1.            the ability of the mind or of an individual or organism to retain learned information and knowledge of past events and experiences and to retrieve it

2.            an individual’s stock of retained knowledge and experience

3.            the knowledge or impression that somebody retains of a particular person, event, period, or subject

4.            the act or a specific instance of remembering

5.            the preservation of knowledge of and, usually, celebration of a deceased person or past event

6.            the knowledge or impression of somebody retained by other people after that person’s death

7.            the period of past time that a person or group is able to remember

8.            the part of a computer in which data is stored.

Also called memory bank

9.            the data storage capacity of a computer

10.            the ability of some materials, for example, plastics and metals, to return to their original shape after being subject to deformation

[36] Space 9.

[37] Heights 244.

[38] Heights 69.

[39] Heights 134 and 247.

[40] Space 7.

[41] Space 212.

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Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari criticize psychoanalysis for its reduction of everything to a fundamental Oedipal triangle (Daddy, Mommy, and Me). They say this promotes a conventional and repressive family structure, but, it also channels polymorphous desires into narrowly restrictive ones.

A famous example is Freud’s “Wolfman” case. In the Wolfman’s dream he sees six or seven wolves, Freud reduces all of the wolves to the father. Multiplicity is reduced to unity. Much like Freud’s interpretation of the vagina as lack, nothing, zero, as opposed to the obvious plural lips, its multiplicity.

Desire is not lack! It’s plenitude, exercise, and functioning!

This is where they developed their theory of the rhizomatic underground root structure.

Unlike plants with a single tap root, rhizomes spread in all directions, creating a chaotic network where one point can be connected to every other point. The multiform workings of desire are, that is, as deep rooted and as multidimensional as the roots of couch-grass, which, as all gardeners know, is almost impossible to eradicate. (The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory)

It is never the beginning or the end that are interesting; the beginning and the end are points. What is interesting is the middle.  The English zero is always in the middle.  Bottlenecks are always in the middle.  Being in the middle of a line is the most uncomfortable position.  One begins again through the middle The French think in terms of trees too much: the tree ofknowledge, points of arborescence, the alpha and omega, the roots and the pinnacle.  Trees are the opposite of grass.  Not only does grass grow in the middle of things but it grows itself through the middle.  This is the English or American problem.  Grass has its line of flight and does not take root.  We have grass in the head and not a tree: what thinking signifies is what the brain is, a “particular nervous system” of grass. (Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, 1987,Dialogues II, trans. Hugh Tomlison and Barbara Habberjam, London: Continuum, 39).

I think the same of memory.

The structure of memory, its miasmic soup, its “undifferentiated sensual stew” (as Lily calls it) is an amalgamized entity, without origin, without end, that for every sign that pops into our head another sign follows, without fail, every time, for infinity, ad nauseam. We can’t help it.

For instance, I think of a pen, which makes me think of paper, which makes me think of snow, which makes me think of ice, which makes me think of salt, which makes me think of anchovies, and on, and on, and on.

This was the quite literal bane of Mahood’s existence in The Unnamable.

“I can’t go on. I must go on. I will go on.”

Memories beget memories.

If one memory is severed from the flow of memory, it is likely, that because of the flow, that deleted memory may be reproduced. (This is my official critique of the science behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Its narrative, however, is nearly flawless. Nearly.)

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