Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 2

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‘Mrs. Heathcliff is my daughter-in-law,’ said Heathcliff, corroborating my surmise.  He turned, as he spoke, a peculiar look in her direction: a look of hatred; unless he has a most perverse set of facial muscles that will not, like those of other people, interpret the language of his soul.

‘Ah, certainly—I see now: you are the favoured possessor of the beneficent fairy,d’ I remarked, turning to my neighbour.

This was worse than before: the youth grew crimson, and clenched his fist, with every appearance of a meditated assault.  But he seemed to recollect himself presently, and smothered the storm in a brutal curse, muttered on my behalf: which, however, I took care not to notice.

‘Unhappy in your conjectures, sir,’ observed my host; ‘we neither of us have the privilege of owning your good fairy; her mate is dead.  I said she was my daughter-in-law: therefore, she must have married my son.’

‘And this young man is—’

‘Not my son, assuredly.’

Heathcliff smiled again, as if it were rather too bold a jest to attribute the paternity of that bear to him.

‘My name is Hareton Earnshaw,’ growled the other; ‘and I’d counsel you to respect it!’

‘I’ve shown no disrespect,’ was my reply, laughing internally at the dignity with which he announced himself.

He fixed his eye on me longer than I cared to return the stare, for fear I might be tempted either to box his earsd or render my hilarity audible.  I began to feel unmistakably out of place in that pleasant family circle.  The dismal spiritual atmosphere overcame, and more than neutralised, the glowing physical comforts round me; and I resolved to be cautious how I ventured under those rafters a third time.

The business of eating being concluded, and no one uttering a word of sociable conversation, I approached a window to examine the weather.  A sorrowful sight I saw: dark night coming down prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow.

‘I don’t think it possible for me to get home now without a guide,’ I could not help exclaiming.  ‘The roads will be buried already; and, if they were bare, I could scarcely distinguish a foot in advance.’

‘Hareton, drive those dozen sheep into the barn porch.  They’ll be covered if left in the fold all night: and put a plank before them,’ said Heathcliff.

‘How must I do?’ I continued, with rising irritation.

There was no reply to my question; and on looking round I saw only Joseph bringing in a pail of porridgew for the dogs, and Mrs. Heathcliff leaning over the fire, diverting herself with burning a bundle of matches which had fallen from the chimney-piece as she restored the tea-canister to its place.  The former, when he had deposited his burden, took a critical survey of the room, and in cracked tones grated out—‘Aw wonder how yah can faishion to stand thear i’ idleness un war, when all on ’ems goan out!  Bud yah’re a nowt, and it’s no use talking—yah’ll niver mend o’yer ill ways, but goa raight to t’ divil, like yer mother afore ye!’w

X [d] I see now: you are the favoured possessor of …

Writing & Reading

The humor originates in Lockwood's pseudo-eloquent address to Hareton and in his prefacing this observation by "I see now." His estimate of Catherine* is no better than his estimate of the dog Juno and likely to engender the same results.

Although he is narrating in an anthropological way how the natives appear to him, we must imagine the "clown" he appears to them—ignorant of dogs…

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X [d] to box his ears

Lockwood's sense of his physical strength and class privilege is laughable. Hareton could crush him. A few lines later Lockwood in another of his misunderstandings imagines that Joseph, "the aged rascal," has insulted him and Lockwood intends "kicking him out of the door." We may suppose that the sinewy, God-inspired Joseph would quickly dispatch him. 

X [w] porridge

Things

 "A thick soup made by stewing vegetables, herbs, or meat, often thickened with barley, pulses, etc.," (OED).

X [w] ye!’

Writing & Reading

"I wonder how you can make yourself stand there in idleness and worse when all of them's going out. But you're a nothing, and it's no use talking—you'll never change your ill ways, but go right to the devil, like your mother before you." 

The language of the Heights's inhabitants is energetic, the verbs active and often violent. Lockwood is so surprised that here, as he was with the rabbits, he mistakes the object of the speech. He's accustomed not only to kittens but to kittenish speech.…

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