W. T.

LeGard (2000) UoS

"Inside", "Outside", and the Window Image in Wuthering Heights and The Turn of the Screw
'"They're seen only across, as it were, and beyond – in strange places and on high places, the top of towers, the roof of houses, the outside of windows, the further edge of pools; but there's a deep design...."' (James, 1994, p.70)

The corruption and seduction portrayed in The Turn of the Screw (1898) and Wuthering Heights (1847) are represented by the thematic motifs of "inside" and "outside", what Dorothy Van Ghent terms the "human" and the alien terrible "other" (1968, p.66). Indeed, the actions represented in both novels are forbidden by taboo, and consequently are dramatized by the novelists at a temporal remove. Both Emily Brontë and Henry James intentionally divorce the reader from the present; essentially, and initially, the reader remains outside the text. Brontë and James not only locate the action in the depths of the country – the Heights and the Grange are 'so completely removed from the stir of society' (p.1), and Bly is situated in 'an out-of-the-way place' (James, 1908, p.118) – they position it within the depths of the past. James deliberately places the decade of his tale within the Brontë period, and the appellative of the Earnshaw home 'compounds geographical inaccessibility with linguistic unfamiliarity' (Vine, 1994, p.339). Moreover, the subject affords James 'a perfectly clear field, with no "outside" control involved, no pattern of the usual or the true or the terrible "pleasant" [...] to consort with' (James, 1908, p.118). Bly's principal witness, the governess, dies prior to the relation of her story, and Lockwood begins his narration in 1801 and concludes in 1802. Thus, the reader is situated at a remove in time, which aids Brontë and James in their pursuit and representation of the barbaric and the extraordinary. Although the actions of the stories are positioned in a previous era, the shocking realism of the novels remains, for the proceedings are not set back in space, in Radcliffean or Byronic Italy, but in Victorian or late eighteenth-century England. As Arnold Kettle points out, the people delineated in Brontë's novel 'live not in a never-never land but in Yorkshire' (1951, p.139). Like the reviewers and the implied reader of Wuthering Heights, Mr Lockwood is representative of the civilized man to whom 'the language, the manners, the very dwellings and household customs of the scattered inhabitants' must seem unintelligible and repulsive (Brontë, 1978, p.XXXII). Akin to those early reviewers who refuse to accept the possibility of domestic violence in such a household, Lockwood – expecting to encounter an ordinary middle-class Victorian family – discovers instead a

house seething with conflict, hatred, and horror. He closes the panelled sides of the old-fashioned couch to secure himself from the overt savagery of the Heights and 'the vigilance of Heathcliff, and every one else' (p.13). Thus, he attempts to banish the repulsive household customs and inhabitants to the outside, to the terrible and alien Other. 'Significantly', writes Van Ghent, 'our first real contact with the CatherineHeathcliff drama is established through a dream' (1968, p.65). 'But', she continues, 'why should Lockwood, the well-mannered urbanite, dream this?' (ibid.): 'Terror made me cruel [...] and I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes' (p.17). The above scene, asserts Jacqueline Banerjee, provides a vivid illustration of the treatment of children and childhood in the Victorian period (1984, p.481). Indeed, just as Brontë deliberately locates brutality and cruelty within civilized families, so the violence perpetrated in the dream, ensuring the child remains outside, exemplifies that Lockwood, the civilized and polite gentleman, is capable of far greater cruelty than are any of the savage inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. Van Ghent cites the windowpane as the 'medium, treacherously transparent, separating the "inside" from the "outside"' (1968, p.66). Certainly, the spectre of Peter Quint appears beyond the dining-room window, his face close to the glass, as he continues his attempt to corrupt the children: '"He was looking for little Miles [...] That's whom he was looking for"' (p.39). The apparitions of Quint and Miss Jessel haunt Flora and Miles, 'to whom they seem to beckon, whom they invite and solicit, from across dangerous places' (Matthiessen & Murdock, 1947, p.178), and initially the "ghosts" at Bly subsist detached from the children. They remain outside, atop towers, beyond windows, across lakes. Quint '"has not been able to get in"', proclaims the governess (p.36). 'It is a question of the children "coming over to where they are"' writes James in the Notebooks (Matthiessen & Murdock, 1947, p.179). Indeed, the governess's third encounter with Peter Quint occurs within the confines of the house, as the apparitions invade the inside of Bly. The master's valet appears upon the stair 'nearest the window' (p.59), and it is no coincidence that Miles – though not made explicit, but inferred from the text with ease – is discerned simultaneously outside, upon the lawn: 'I uncovered the glass without a sound and, applying my face to the pane, was able [...] to see [...] poor little Miles himself' (p.64). Only succeeding Miles's compulsion to advance out of doors, "to where they are", are the apparitions able to breach the fragile demarcation; thus ‘the children may destroy themselves, lose themselves, by responding, by getting into their power' (Matthiessen & Murdock, 1947, p.178). The corruption, of Miles in particular, now appears ineluctable, as the dialogue between 'the little gentleman' (p.19) and the governess, on their Sunday-morning walk to church, testifies: '"Look here, my dear, you know," he charmingly said, "when in the world, please, am I going back to school?"' (p.77) Arguably,

little Miles desires a return to school so that (he implies) he may be free to communicate as fully and as often as he wishes with Peter Quint. The success of the apparitions, therefore, to tempt Miles outside, precipitates the corruption of the children: 'What was so unnatural for the particular boy I was concerned with was this sudden revelation of a consciousness and a plan' (p.81). The window image, similarly, plays an integral part in the seduction of Catherine Earnshaw. Gazing into the drawing-room window of Thrushcross Grange, she is tempted by the apparent luxury of the Lintons' lifestyle. Heathcliff immediately recognizes the superficiality of the scene and so rejects the vision: '"I'd not exchange, for a thousand lives, my condition here, for Edgar Linton's at Thrushcross Grange"' (p.33). Heathcliff, the '"little Lascar"' (p.35), remains outside, resolutely prepared to fracture the windowpane: '"if Catherine had wished to return, I intended shattering their great glass panes to a million of fragments, unless they let her out"' (p.35). However, the window here represents a barrier between different levels of reality and is thus impenetrable. Catherine, seduced by the petty temptation of mere luxury and 'elevated and confirmed in her own high evaluation of herself' (Gose, 1967, p.6), succumbs to temptation, and thus 'the first snare is laid by which [she] will be held for a human destiny' (Van Ghent, 1968, p.67). Catherine's transformation is preceded by a violent and physical initiation: '"The devil had seized her ankle, Nelly: I heard his abominable snorting [...] The man took Cathy up; she was sick, not from fear, I'm certain, but from pain"' (p.34). Catherine does not recover her physical freedom until death finally liberates her and, upon her return to the Heights, she exists no longer as 'a wild, hatless little savage' (p.36). Alighting from a pony, displaying 'brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit' (p.36), she appears as alien and Other to Heathcliff, and the consequence of her corruption before the Lintons' window plagues him, until he is finally reunited with Catherine Earnshaw in death. 'Peter Quint had come into view like a sentinel before a prison', proclaims the governess (p.116). Certainly, gazing through a window may be perceived as a symbol of imprisonment. Trapped in a place where not even letters can escape, Miles's predicament is suggested by the prison imagery of the window: 'The frames and squares of the great window were a kind of image, for him, of a kind of failure. I felt that I saw him, at any rate, shut in or shut out' (p.113). The governess, who is 'like a gaoler with an eye to possible surprises and escapes' (p.77), attempts to place herself between the apparitions of Quint and Miss Jessel and the children: 'I should serve as an expiatory victim and guard the tranquillity of my companions. The children, in especial, I should thus fence about and absolutely save' (p.39). However, the governess's incessant smothering of the children, effectively imprisoning them within Bly, compels them outside. 'I started up with a strange sense of having literally slept at my

post' (p.92), declares the governess. Flora, exacerbated by her confinement – 'it was the very first time I had allowed the little girl out of my sight without some special provision' (p.93) – seeks temporary freedom in the grounds of Bly: '"She has gone out [...] She's with her!"' (ibid.) Similarly, confined by her illness to Thrushcross Grange, Catherine throws open the casement: '"I wish I were out of doors! I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free"' (p.91). Bent out of the window, 'careless of the frosty air that cut about her shoulders as keen as a knife' (p.91), Catherine's situation echoes that of the waif-child of Lockwood's dream, the cutting, though here of the wind, once more in evidence. Imprisoned in the Grange, Catherine is physically and symbolically separated from Heathcliff. Indeed, the window acts as a portal within the membrane separating inside from outside, and through it Catherine summons a visitation: '"But Heathcliff, if I dare you now, will you venture?"' (p.92) However, since Catherine's "window seduction", she and Heathcliff remain eternally divided in life. Thus, Catherine invites death from the open window. '"You won't give me a chance of life"' (p.91), she says to Ellen Dean. Indeed, for Catherine her "chance of life" is only attained by death. She wishes to escape her confinement, to be reunited with Heathcliff outside, and to instigate a return to childhood, when 'it was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day' (p.32). Thus, Catherine's desire to escape Thrushcross Grange is comparable to her ghost, years later, attempting to gain entrance to Wuthering Heights: '"Let me in – let me in!"' (p.17) Ronald E. Fine observes that Heathcliff's cry of '"let me in"' (p.128) is a reflection or echo of Lockwood's dream (1970, p.23). Locked out of Wuthering Heights by Hindley, Heathcliff devastates the window but is, initially, unable to get in: '"the casement behind me was banged on to the floor by a blow from the latter individual, and his black countenance looked blightingly through"' (p.128). Indeed, Lockwood's nightmare, occurring as it does at the beginning of the novel, "colours" the mind of the reader. In essence, it acts as a gateway to the wuthering world of the novel, contributing to patterns of imagery and articulating the theme of the window image. 'The device is traditional', writes Fine, 'an offspring of the pervasive and multiform dream-vision, sister perhaps to the nightmares in Gothic novels' (1970, pp.16-17). Certainly, just as Brontë borrows a device from the Gothic novelists, fusing the traditional form into a new dream-device, so she (as does James) adopts the parenthetical device or "frame" so beloved of the Gothic writers. Indeed, the reader 'cannot see or experience the buried reality of the "framed" story without first experiencing the "framing" narrative. There is no other way in' (Jacobs, 1986, p.77).

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