Fly me to the UK for a literary adventure I’ve always dreamt of

Quoting famous speech from Martin Luther King Jr, ‘I Have a Dream’, well, I have a dream, too, which is to launch what I call as a literary adventure to say hello, take inspiration for writing then say thank you for these literary genius whose works not only entertain my soul but their imaginations and voices have helped me finding my own place in this hectic cum wonderful modern life.
Thomas Hardy
I have been longing for paying a visit to the places that play significant roles in the works of Thomas Hardy, one of my most-beloved authors. If you have bumped to this messy blog then you realize how much I admire his works as his name becomes the most-tagged word in this place, hehe..
If you ask me why do I love Hardy so much, one of my answers is because he knows how to appreciate nature then put them into beautiful words. Reading his novels soothe my heart because his words are indeed pieces of arts, beautifully-crafted.
I would really love to go to the house he was born in a house in Stinsford, a village and civil parish in southwest Dorset, one mile east of Dorchester. Stinsford is the original ‘Mellstock’ in his ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Jude the Obscure’. I haven’t read ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ but I have enjoyed ‘Jude’.
The first site I wish I can visit is Hardy’s cottage as you can see from the below picture. This is where the poet was born in 1840 then writing ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ in 1872 and ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ in 1874. I can fancy how peaceful it was when he was working by looking at the cottage and its surroundings. No wonder he was able to produce very fascinating words as its neighborhood was providing him a lot of inspirations to write. Hardy was staying in the cottage until he was 34 years old.

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He once moved to London but never felt at home in the big city. As such, he built a house namely Max Gate, which is just a few miles from the cottage where he was living before. He and his first and second wife inhabited the house, which I think is quite large and exquisite, from 1885 until his death in 1928. This is the house where he was creating his best fictions; ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, ‘Jude the Obscure’ and ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ as well as most of his poems. While general fans mostly applaud ‘Tess’, ‘Far’ or ‘Jude’, my most favorite fiction is yes, ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’. I really really admire the book. Anyway, this is Max Gate.

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George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans or mostly popular as George Eliot (12 November 1819 to 22 December 1880) is my second most-adored Victorian novelist. Until now, I don’t know how Eliot produces such an extensive, rich in terms of issues, imaginations and characterizations as in Middlemarch. By the way, my personal favorite is ‘The Mill on the Floss’ as it becomes my first ‘real’ experience reading her works. I read ‘Silas Marner’ back when I was a university student but I don’t consider it as a ‘concrete’ experience because the book that I was savoring was its simplified version. I don’t want to read the unabridged version of ‘Silas Marner’ though because the story is really sad.
So this is Arbury Hall estate. In its South Farm, the very smart baby girl namely Mary Anne Evans was born in 12 November 1819. The estate was belonging to the Newdigate family where which her father was working as a land manager there.

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In early 1820, the author family moved to Griff House where Mary Anne was living for 20 years. After that, she was travelling and moving to some places. Here is the Griff House:

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Elizabeth Gaskell
For any Victorian enthusiasts, you should try Gaskell’s books, which move very soft and smooth. ‘Mary Barton’ is my favorite book from her. No wonder she is able to produce elegantly-made words. Gaskell is described as a lady-like person, tidy, well-mannered one. Oh, I can totally associate with her writings, in terms of word choice and placement, characters (esp in ‘Wives and Daughters’) and issue selections. If I have a chance, it will be delightful to stop by in this house, where the author and her family were living for some years. Let me put the address here: 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester. Oh I love the building. What a lovely sight!images (3).jpeg

The Bronte sisters
Of course, the Bronte Parsonage Museum must be in the list! This is the house where the Bronte family was staying which is in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Looking at the building, I think the family is quite wealthy. My favorite Bronte is Anne because her traits much like mine, hehe. Who is your beloved Bronte, my friend?

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Charles Dickens
So far, I have read ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’. I honestly say I’m not really into his works which is a matter of writing style reason. But if I were in UK, this Charles Dickens museum as you can see below is a temptation I can’t resist, hehe.. The address is on 48 Doughty street, Holborn, London. It became the home for the author from 25 March 1837 until December 1839. Though it was relatively short, the house saw him producing best fictions, ‘The Pickwick Paper’ in 1836, ‘Oliver Twist’ in 1838, ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ between 1838 and 1839 and Barnaby Rudge in 1840 and 1841. How prolific Dickens was!

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Jane Austen
And here is the queen of all romantic women out there, I included, is the one and only Jane Austen. The picture shows Jane Austen house museum in the village of Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire. She and her family were occupying the house for the last eight years of her life. It is assumed she was revising the drafts of ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ here. Austen also wrote ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Emma’ (I love Emma!) and ‘Persuasion’ here.
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Wilkie Collins
And the last author who recently spurs my adrenaline is Wilkie Collins. He is chubby anyway by looking at his picture. Collins and his wife, Caroline Graves, were occupying Harley Street 12, Marylebone, in the central of London, from 1860 to 1864. I’m not really sure whether he owned the entire building or just rented some rooms of it. Collins is said to have written most parts of one of his best mysterious novels, ‘The Woman in White’, here. I currently look for reading the title after I am so immersed with ‘The Moonstone’. images (5)
So, those are a number of sites that completely attract my desires to go there. I think my bucket-list is already full even before I have enough money to make it, hehe.. Well, never mind. Hopefully the bucket will be filled. Till then, let’s dream again!
Thank you very much for Wikipedia, Wikimedia and Wilkie-Collins.info for providing all the lovely shots.

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Basic guidance before reading the works of these literary giants (2)

The second part of this long post highlights my short analysis about the novels by the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens.
Anne Bronte
If you want to read novels by the Bronte sisters, you can begin with those by Anne Bronte. Luckily, I do start with her books. Reading her books make me feel like I get into her personal lives. Plus, she uses first-person narrations in ‘Tenant of the Wildfell Hall’ and ‘Agnes Grey’. As such, her tales can move you so deeply.
Anne voices feminism, too, like Charlotte Bronte, her elder sister. The difficult life of being a governess becomes her source topic. The harsh life of being a single mother who flees from her own husband because of domestic violence I think at that time is revolutionary, particularly the latter one. Anne tries to break all religious rules through Helen Huntingdon.

Alcoholic husband, infidelity issues mark Anne’s writing achievements. Don’t worry, my friends. Anne’s stories end in happy tones!
Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is a very powerful heroine. She is blunt, stubborn, strong and idealistic woman you can ever imagine. Her faith and how she holds her religious values indeed cause her to face difficult situations. I still imagine the moments she starves that she wants to sell her handkerchief but is denied by a potential buyer. Then she eats porridge that is already thrown by former eater to keep her alive.
Reading the book moves me so much. Not only because of Jane’s firmness holding her values, but also the way Charlotte puts her heroine in difficult tests ever since she is a little girl. I am also amazed how the book doesn’t bore me as it is very thick one. Charlotte’s storytelling brings so much joy despite the tribulations Jane has to bear.
Emily Bronte
First of all, I dislike Catherine Earnshaw given her indecisive attitude. Her unwillingness to take risks to fight for her love. Also to be honest, I can’t say what Heathcliff does is correct. Their love story stirs mixed feeling for me. I call it as a deep, wild and destructive romance you can ever imagine knowing.
I have never read this romance-based fantasy as that frustrating, depressing, furious yet very strong at the same time. And Emily’s writing style is beyond my thought. Beware of physical and emotional tortures in the book for if you really feel them so profoundly, you will be haunted by the sensations they leave in your heart.
Charles Dickens
I think Charles Dickens is the most serious and social novelists in the Victorian era. While others take limited range of topics, such as women lives or people’ attitude at that time, Dickens write many books on child labor, the Industry Revolution, crime, legal affairs and many more.
I find it interesting that reading books by Dickens give me another shade of the Britons’ lives in London, a big city that is rarely touched by previous writers since their settings are mostly in rural areas or villages.
So, Dickens adds knowledge to what really happens in the big city when the machine starts taking over the lives of the people and how it leaves many problems. There haven’t been any writers who are very sophisticated in portraying individuals’ conflicts as he is. As such, reading his works challenge me a lot in understanding little things between characters and how their relations develop into something bigger in the end of the story.
Those are my opinions that hopefully can guide you a little bit before diving into that thick pages, hehe.. I hope this helps you, my fellow readers!

For this particular reason Anne Bronte is my most favorite Bronte writer

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Hail to the Bronte sisters who have left enduring legacy in English Literature. I wish they write more books so that I can go inside their unbelievable minds. Though I know I can never reach their super high imagination level put into magical words at least I can enjoy more of their works. They die relatively at young age because of sickness.

So far, I read four books; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the last one is ‘Jane Eyre’. I know some titles remain unread, particularly by Charlotte Bronte but I believe reading them is sufficient for me to draw a conclusion that Anne Bronte is my most favorite one.

I agree to most literary fans who say ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ stand higher than ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. I sum this up because of what I feel after I read each of them. I go crazy when I read ‘Wuthering Heights’. I am so moved when Jane Eyre becomes a beggar then so relieved when she eventually becomes Mrs. Rochester. I still remember I find it hard to put ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ down because the plot completely moves me. I get addicted to the book but if you ask for my opinion the novel remains below the other two titles in the paragraph. I think this is perhaps due to Anne’s writing technique which doesn’t dramatize Helen’s life as tragic as Jane Eyre or as horrific as ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Anne Bronte is my personal favorite because I find pieces of my personality in her two stories. The reason is so private. As much as I adore Jane’s trait that is so rebellious and as much as I am blown away with the wildness of the love between Cathy and Heathcliff, Anne’s characters are engraved in my heart. The simplicity, patience and strong-willingness of Helen Lawrence Huntingdon and Agnes Grey are what make them ordinarily outstanding.

You may call them boring because they don’t pose one or two particular traits that make them distinctive. Jane Eyre is very notable for her obstinacy and independence while Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon are both hardworking women but not that very stubborn. Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon are so-so if compared to Jane Eyre or Cathy. But beneath their average qualities lie endurance and strength. In my own words, they are very humane. Not just I but I think a lot of women or people out there will easily relate their characteristics with theirs.

‘Agnes Grey’ is the second novel that bedazzles me after ‘Wives and Daughters’ because of their ordinary protagonists who experience simple lives. Like Molly Gibson in ‘Wives and Daughters’, ‘Agnes Grey’ follows the life of Agnes Grey, all the choices that she makes and how they contribute to the final trait of the female leading figure by the end of the novel.

Agnes Grey wants sufficiency for her and her family needs. The problems she face during the life in the book seems ordinary; the difficulty in finding jobs, the negativity she has to receive as a governess. She sometimes hates her job because she has to deal with naughty children and some even put her position as a maid. But a job is a job. She has to complete her tasks for the sake of making ends meet. Her simple thought in job is also applicable in the romance side. She doesn’t pursue her crush but chooses to be patient and wait. Until when the universe goes in favor of her feeling, he comes and proposes her. There lies indescribable power beyond Agnes Grey’s simplicity.

Helen Huntingdon lives a more complicated life compared to Agnes Grey thereby she is a lot of tougher than Agnes Grey. Not only she has to deal with her alcoholic husband, Helen must go against public norms; fleeing from her husband while they are still married. Unlike Jane Eyre who is completely obstinate, Helen’s firmness is understandable, that she escapes from her husband to save their only son. Helen does this by force. Jane, on the other hand, could have stayed in Thornfield Hall while teaching Adele, for instance. Jane still has other choices that Helen doesn’t. Similar to Agnes Grey, what Helen wants is her son security and good moral sample that he will never get that from his own father.

I can’t imagine what strength Helen poses when she has to take care of her ill husband. She completes the duty of a devoted wife (I know the term ‘devoted’ here stirs debate at that time) by returning back home. As much as she hates him, she performs the responsibility until he dies. This part is so mixed. I feel that in this part, Anne Bronte softly brings up two opposite climaxes at the same time: the downfall of masculinity as portrayed by Arthur Huntingdon and the victory of feminism by Helen Huntingdon. Again, Anne Bronte describes this part in slow, soft ways that makes it very powerful.

Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon.. For some they may be boring, plain and not spontaneous. But you and I can’t bet they are beautiful souls because they stick at what they believe to do. They are stubborn because of strong reasons. Though patience and hardworking, they live the lives they dream to have no matter how many bumpy roads they have to undergo. They are awesome fictional characters and for myself they describe my personality.

Thank you for providing the picture.

The Bronte sisters and the dream elements in their masterpieces

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The night before her wedding, Jane Eyre dreams something so horrific that leads her feeling frantic and unquiet throughout the remaining night. She sees a woman looking ghostly coming into the chamber she previously sleeps in. Jane never sees her before the night. She surveys the wedding dress, takes the wedding veil. No damage is done but she stares at Jane’s eyes that lefts the bride-to-be feeling frightened.

According to her future husband, Mr. Rochester, Jane is half awaken when that takes place. The woman that she sees is not a ghost or whatsoever but rather a human being. On the planned big day it turns out the dream is not just a dream.

The wedding is aborted. Mr. Rochester is still the husband of a woman namely Bertha Mason whom he has been married for 15 years. He argues that his still living wife is a maniac or a mad person whom he doesn’t know about when he marries her. He later blames her family for hiding the truth about his wife. To make it bitter for Jane to swallow, the woman has been staying in Thornfield Hall for a couple of months. I bet the woman Jane sees is the wife of Mr. Rochester!

When I come to this part not only I am a little bit shocked but also I am intrigued to question what makes Charlotte and her elder sister, Emily Bronte, inserting dreams into their novels. Before writing this post, I read several articles that inform me about the lives of the Brontes. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell are fond of telling stories to each other. They are talented story creators since childhood.

I haven’t found any commentaries from literary experts about this topic but I think their fantasies become like a solid ground from which they base upon their dreams. As their skills mature, the fantasies turn into complicated forms, like the one I mention above. If you already read Wuthering Heights the kind of dreams emerge several times. And in the Emily’s novel, the dreams are much more terrifying.

The blend of fantasy, psychological issues and reality lead to best sort of dreams that make the Bronte sisters are the masters of it. As a result, I, as a reader, find it harder to differentiate whether the characters’ dreams are real, surreal or mere delusion. What is left as a reader is the sensation that sticks so long in my mind and again makes the sisters are exceptional writers.

I feel frightened and disturbed at the same time. Then I will question what the dreams mean to the rest of the story. What will come next. And you know what? Every time I find the scenes where the main characters dream, I feel a little bit afraid. I can still remember well when Heathcliff dreams of Cathy wearing white dress after she dies. Also the conclusion of Wuthering Heights mentions the ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy!

This particular aspect of Charlotte and Emily makes me realizing they pose very advanced writing skills. Every detail are paid attention that slowly leads the stories snowballing into something greater without leaving readers, I included, feeling bored.

The source of the picture: https://voolas.com/facts-about-bronte-sisters/

‘Jane Eyre’ and I; a special literary comeback journey

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I have been immersed myself in reading ‘Jane Eyre’ since last Saturday evening. Oh my.. I have loved it so much. I can’t believe the novel has entertained me, heart and mind, after I watch its movie version then find myself hating it.

It takes me years to have finally given it a try. This is because the film after effect. I dislike it a lot because I despise watching Mia Wasikowska pairing with Micheal Fassbender in Jane Eyre (2011). I like Mia but not Micheal so yeah.. Plus, there’s nothing special for me about it. Just an orphan girl surviving as a governess then falling in love with a manly person performed by Micheal.

As flat as this film leaves a mark in my mind I ignore the book each time I go to Kinokuniya bookstore in Central Jakarta. I mean like, why should I? The novel is considered as world’s greatest literature treasure but its movie version proves there’s nothing fantastic about it so why should I follow people’ choice?

Years before I am deeply into ‘Jane Eyre’, I enjoy reading her sisters’ works; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. I love all of their masterpieces. It is not surprising that I am eager to read books by Charlotte Bronte. I firstly want to read her lesser-known books; ‘The Professor’ and ‘Vilette’ but I turn my eyes on other titles at that time.

Shortly to say, I decide reading ‘Jane Eyre’ mostly because I don’t have many reading choices about Victorian Literature in the bookstore. I am a traditional reader who prefer buying books in stores to ordering them via websites because I look forward shopping books in bookstores! The kind of shopping that makes me feeling so much happy, refreshed and confident.

After a series of wonderful experiences reading books by the Bronte sisters I automatically have ‘Jane Eyre’ on the back of my mind. So you may say I read the novel after not many classic books left in the Kinokuniya bookstore. A kind of forceful reason coupled with nature conspiracy regarding the series of experience reading books by the Bronte sisters but hell yeah!!

Now, I am so happy that I buy ‘Jane Eyre’ that rainy Saturday afternoon. The weather was wet but my heart was so cheerful for the first words stole my heart away, as what Victorian writers always do. My reading relationship with ‘Jane Eyre’ is unique, anyway.. It’s like I meet a special man but do nothing to even admit the crush feeling. Just when my heart is sort of empty I meet this guy again, I try approaching him then voila! We click then enjoy our journey at the moment.

That is all I can write at the moment. I share this because I and ‘Jane Eyre’ has an extraordinary linkage. It’s called “I can’t deny my first literary love for wherever I go I will return to it. Always.”

The picture is taken from here

Diving into the depth of Gothic literature in ‘Wuthering Heights’

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After Catherine Linton dies, Emily Bronte inserts abundant scenes that combine fantasy and horror. Heathcliff imagines seeing Cathy in white gowns. The late is seen everywhere. The deceased follows him.

When Heathcliff is dying, his servant, Nelly Dean, tells the readers that her master once smiles while looking at empty space. It seems Heathcliff hallucinates. The atmosphere surrounding the days before his death is queer. Heathcliff shuts himself down, alienates from the family. He spends most of his days alone. He lives inside his mind.

While that fantasy already produces goosebumps because I strongly sense horror since then, Emily makes it even more frightening. According to Nelly, Heathcliff’s face looks strange as he approaches the day of his passing.

One of the scenes that shocks me is when on the part she finds his eyes black when he looks at her. Nelly even says Heathcliff becomes more like a goblin. The scene when he dies, too, is ghastly. Nelly finds his eyes staring at her as she opens the door where the deceased closes him off.

At first I think Heathcliff is still alive but, as Nelly proceeds, his hands are cold, he dies. My heart jumps as I try visualizing this. Scary.

The finale of the book puts the ghosts of Cathy and Heathcliff roaming around Wuthering Heights. The house they once live in is now left vacant.

The illusion world of Emily Bronte leaves me puzzled for they are hard to grasp. I know the scenes where Heathcliff seeing Cathy is definitely out of his imagination but Emily Bronte’s excellent writing skills make it as though they were real. The description is very smooth. Reading these parts confuse me as a non-native English speaker. At the same time, I can’t help feeling so astonished with Emily Bronte. The book, not thick enough compared to Jane Austen or Thomas Hardy’s, yet it is so wealthy, you can’t find it enough to use it as an object of study.

The picture is from this.

Cathy & Heathcliff, a passionately destructive love story

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The special tie that binds Catherine ‘Cathy’ Earnshaw and Heathcliff is the sort of tale that mesmerizes yet destroys my emotions.

Cathy and Heathcliff are one soul in two bodies. Cathy herself says Heathcliff is her other half. The deep love they both feel has been tested ever since they are very young. Although initially Cathy underestimates him, making fun of him, Heathcliff and Cathy gradually become closer.

Cathy and Heathcliff are both wild, rebellious. They both find perfect companion in each other arms. Up to this point, prior to the introduction of Edgar Linton, Cathy’s future husband, I have been wowed due to the development of their relationship. Watching how love grows from such a pure friendship is what makes their romance feels so profound. Cathy and Heathcliff forms a solid foundation for their love.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t last for long.  What follows after their entrance to the house of the Linton’s family changes the course of the hope. Strong love isn’t enough. Feeling comfortable on each other presence can’t shield the bond from all challenges and rejections they have to face. The key doesn’t much rely on wealth or material status, though. Instead, it lies on Cathy and Heathcliff’s shaky commitments on each other’s heart, something which is probably too unknown for the young couple to understand.

Sometimes, I wish they are both honest with their feelings. Sometimes, I wish Cathy wants to take all the risks if she decides to be with Heathcliff. And I wish Heathcliff won’t just flee without any information after he overhears Cathy’s confession to Nelly. (At that night, Cathy tells Nelly that Edgar proposes her and she will accept it for the sake of Heathcliff’s future).

I hope they both will sit down but misunderstanding comes unexpectedly. Cathy denies her own feeling. She underestimates the meaning of matrimony. On the other hand, Heathcliff is too sensitive. He doesn’t allow for any room for dialogue. But you can’t blame them, though. Not because if things turn the other way around the novel won’t be as remarkable as it is, but you can’t deny maturity does affect the fate of the love.

Imagining the scene on the night when Cathy confesses her love for Heathcliff yet decides to give it all up while he is listening it all is so heartbreaking. Visualizing Cathy’s fruitless search for Heathcliff’s whereabouts in the middle of the heavy rain and thunder makes it far, far devastating.

Cathy marries to Edgar. According to Edgar’s sister, Isabella, they fond of each other but I as a reader believe their love is flat. It actually is a one-sided love for Edgar. What I perceive is their marriage is based on solely comfort, flatness. The kind of relationship that comforts Cathy for she has a man who will do anything for her.

This is so unfair. Edgar deserves more than this but he remains loving Cathy, even when Heathcliff comes back, tries to win the heart of Cathy, Edgar stands the same. And for Cathy, I hate her unprincipled trait, as what Nelly once says.

On one hand, she is madly in love with Heathcliff but on another side, she wants Edgar not leaving her, too. Heathcliff makes his return way too far. He wishes making Cathy her own again despite her marriage. He forces Nelly helping him to meet Cathy despite strong oppositions from her husband.

Cathy’s wishy-washy traits, Edgar’s indecisiveness and Heathcliff’s forcefulness makes the novel is like killing my emotion. There are moments that drives me crazy, makes me feel so impatient with all of them, especially Heathcliff.

The events are when Heathcliff tries to find ways to meet Cathy. The conversation between him and Cathy also leads me furious because Heathcliff is very persistent while Cathy plays hard to get.

I respect Cathy should she defend her stance for Edgar, he is her husband after all. But Cathy can’t stand anymore, especially when she knows Isabella falls so hard for Heathcliff. I thought Cathy is relieved if Isabela is for Heathcliff but reading some parts before her death, I feel angry yet sorry for her.

She can no longer hide her feeling. She falls so sick. She can’t stop hallucinating. She is very unhappy. The state of her being, that of Heathcliff and Edgar makes it very sense that Emily only puts very brief scene on the reunion of Heathcliff and Cathy after a series of misunderstandings and pretensions.

They both declare their own feelings, that they can’t live without each other when Cathy is dying. The moment is all so worth it although it is too short. Heathcliff enters Cathy’s room when she is half alive. They both admit their mistakes, too. The scene is very powerful. Painful, relieved, maddening.. It is also beautiful for I am satisfied they both reconcile. Cathy dies shortly after Heathcliff releases her from his arms.

She is rested in peace.

Heathcliff mourns so bad that he even wants to kill himself. What Heathcliff and Cathy experience is too deep to feel. Their love is so pure and powerful that even though their bodies belong to someone else, their hearts are locked in each other. On the surface, you can say they hurt the feelings of each other partner but if you put your feet on the shoes of Heathcliff and Cathy’s shoes, you know they make mistakes that are very humane.

I will carry this romance for the rest of my life, Emily, for I learn so much from Heathcliff and Cathy. Thank you, again..

The picture is taken from here.