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Wuthering Heights and the Rhetoric of Interpretation

Author(s): Michael S. Macovski
Source: ELH, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Summer, 1987), pp. 363-384
Published by: Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2873028
Accessed: 09-11-2015 22:49 UTC

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WUTHERING HEIGHTS AND THE RHETORIC
OF INTERPRETATION
BY MICHAEL S. MACOVSKI

For storytelling
is alwaysthe artof repeatingstories,and this
art is lost when the storiesare no longerretained.It is lost
because thereis no moreweavingand spinningto go on while
theyare beinglistenedto.
WalterBenjamin,"The Storyteller"
I wantyouto tellme myway,notto showit;or else to persuade
Mr. Heathcliff
to give me a guide.
Lockwoodin WutheringHeights
Ever since F. R. Leavis firstcharacterized it as a "kind of sport"
-an anomaly with "some influence of an essentially undetectable
kind"-critics have attempted to locate WutheringHeights within
various schools of literary interpretation or detection. To the
"barred" doors of the Heights world have come those who see the
novel as an allegory of class conflict, a microcosm of generational
tension, or a response to Romantic tradition.' The last fifteen
years, however, have seen a determined, ifinconsistent,turnaway
from this legacy of attempted interpretation, of what J. Hillis
Miller calls our need "to satisfy the mind's desire for logical
order," to "indicate the rightway to read the novel as a whole."2
These latter criticsaccordinglycite what they variouslyreferto as
the "misinterpretation,""crisis of interpretation,"or "conflicting
possibilities of interpretation" that allegedly distinguish the
novel.3 Of course, such approaches differamong themselves: while
some attribute this misinterpretation to a particular narrator's
unreliable point ofview, others maintainthatany path throughthe
novel leads to a "reader's quandary"-since its "multiplicityof
outlook" and "surplus of signifiers"demonstrate an "intrinsicplurality." Still others deny even the potential import of such signifiers,insistingthat the very language of the novel presents us with
a "missing center": hence even the name of a given character"despotically eliminates its referent,leaving room neither forplurality
nor forsignificance."4Although these recent criticshardly consti363

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6 Yetthe questionofreadingin Wuthering Heightsis surelymore complexthan thiscomparisonwould suggest: we must. "howeverfarinside [the 'penetralium']the reader gets. Nelly.and Zillah distortalmostevery episode of the storywe hear-thereby implicatingthe reader as the last in a framedsuccessionofinterpreters. and indeed thereis muchto be said forthis The torturedrelationship." entirenovel as a rendering. "thatthereis no secrettruth.it is difficult to deny thatthe novel is itself.it has yet to be defined.in Miller'swords. forinstance. Whatthe foregoingstudieshave notconsideredis thatthe issue and responseis addresseddirectlywithinthe text ofinterpretation 364 WutheringHeightsand the Rhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192. We mustalso take into accountthat we hear Nelly's perspectiveduringmostof the novel. The interpretivevaluations of characters like Lockwood. or three removes.""The secrettruthaboutWutheringHeightsis. serve to representthisreader. between Catherineand Heathcliff is inimicalto any recognizable casuistic standard.10 on Mon." Millergoes on.forinstance.Finally.the primarywitnessesto the eventsofthe novel. two. and sense thatshe too is not an observerworthemulating.Despite its disturbing"crisis about the act ofinterpretation we muststillrecognizethatBrontepresentsthe ofinterpretation.167. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .have suggestedthatthe listenersembedded in the novel are in manyways analogous to to actualreaders.as a storyreportedat one. approachto interpretation.209. a characteruniversallyacknowledgedto be an effetebungler.theywouldseem to agree that.forinstance." he will findonly"enigmaticsigns."and "ultimatebafflement. and if some alien moralitystands behind Heathcliff's own inconsistentactions.Yet despite the reader's "bewilderment"and even "ultimatebafflement" at such mysteries."and to insistthatNellyand Lockwood. Much has been made of this peculiarlyframedformof WutheringHeights:severalcritics."5 Thus.insensitiveto the dramatic power of the storyhe hears.we must considerwhatthesemodelsofauditionsayaboutthepossibilityfor interpretingsuch charactersas Heathcliffand Catherine Earnshaw.ask how any reader who apprehends the novel can resemble Lockwood.Such studiesattemptto likenour interpretations thoseofthe "normalskepticalreader. the presentgenerationofcriticsseems inclinedto let the problematicmysteriesand open questionsof WutheringHeights live a lifeoftheirown.""bewilderment.tutea consensus.

exchanges ofWutheringHeights-most explicitlyby interrogative between characters. Even Heathcliff displaysthe need to expresshis inmostfeelings During beforeanother. but the two climactic exchanges in which and Catherinerespectivelydescribetheirpreternatural Heathcliff union to Nelly (72-74.but also by the rhetoricalformof the novel itself. In enjoinshis listenerto "hear"or comprehend bothcases. to turnit out to another"(255).These addressesinclude not only Nelly Dean's narrative to Lockwood. At the beginningof one interchange.Catherine actuallyproceeds to restrainNelly.to breakhis solitude.in orderforthese two charactersto "let out" (in Cathappears erine'swords)theirsecrets.it is tempting. the impetusbehind rhetoricalinterchange to "let out" one's "secret"is to here appears to be interpretation: need it received and judged.at the end of this brokencolloquy Catherinesaysto Nelly."you'llnot talkofwhatI tellyou."Heathcliff to another"in order to interpretit.10 on Mon.Much as Catherineseeks to "let out" too attemptsto "turn[hismind]out her buried"secret.167. Here again. Catherineseems determinedto incorporatea listener'sresponse intoher own evaluationofself.at last. In fact. he saysto Nelly.For the substanceof the novel is in effecta successionof addresses directedto designatedlisteners.Catherineagaindemands. The novel accordinglyforebothcharacters'expeby framing groundsthe act ofinterpretation rienceswithinthe contextofsustainedaudition. "say whetherI should have done so-do!" (70).still later. Heathcliff self. Macovski This content downloaded from 192. his request to "1turn out" his self to Nelly resembles his earlier plea to Catherine's ghost:"Oh! myheart'sdarling.her auditor(72). his most extendedattemptto describe his relationto Catherine.at least momentarily.Catherinepleads.she begs Nellyto corroborateher decisionto marryEdgar. and mymindis so eternallysecluded in itself.the presenceofan interpreter to be vital (70). 255-56).a series of witnessed narratives.And althoughhe eventhe broken"heart"-the fragmented tuallyattainsa formofunionwiththe deceased Catherine."yetyou have not told me whether I'm right"(71).Heathcliffstillspendsthe finaldaysofhis lifeendeavoringto addressher Michael S.209. Finally. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 365 .Againand again. When Nelly mocksthe question. Thus."Be quick. In this sense. Furthermore.hear me thistime"(33). the purpose of auditionis to draw out the "eternallysecluded" self:to delineatethe ego accordingto social or dialogiccorrelates.and saywhetherI was wrong".

. Nelly cries. of any reciprocal fortsto depict his attendant"spectre.beyondthe graveand thustranscendbothhis rhetoricaland social isolation.to everyinterpretive notwhatI intend.in effect. the of framework begun his attemptto "turnout" his mind No soonerhas Heathcliff "1toanother"thanhe breaksoff. and I maintainedsilence-I didn'tlike to hear him talk!"(230).10 on Mon.withinthe dialogic would-beinterlocutors theymust remain"eternallysecluded. When Catherine."Nelly says."she says. Miss Catherine.as it does nearly all in WutheringHeights. Miss Catherine!"Yet by refusingto "harken"to these revelatory visions. "I tell you I won't harkento yourdreams. II Yet audition ultimatelyfails Heathcliff.Nelly also misses the pivotalrevelationof the novel: the spectralbond between Catherineand Heathcliff."To deny Heathcliff's "7 Catherine'spresence is to deny the novel. When Catherine goes on.209." Heathcliffsearlier efrecounting In response. Even has become a deceived auditorafterhe "listenedtillhe Heathcliff heardCatherinesay it would degrade her to marryhim. Nellyinsists.forinstance. Al366 WutheringHeightsand theRhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .and then he stayedto hear no farther"(73). Such denials amountto a kind of analyticdeafness:both Nelly and Lockwoodattemptto discountwhat theycannotunderstand. "He only half addressedme. . Thus when Nelly firstbungles this auricularrole." novel. We're dismal enough withoutconjuringup ghostsand visionsto perplexus" (72).saying. Nelly'ssilence here indicatesa largerpatternoffailedaudition. And such an outpouringto Nelly does insince she provesincapable deed resemblean undirected"frenzy.167. He thenconcludes:"My confessionshave not relievedme" (256). forit implies an inabilityto apprehendthose ghostsand visions whichrepresentrevelationin the novel. Catherinereprocessin thenovel: "that's sponds.beginsto speak ofher visionofheaven.a bond repreby sightingsand visions."Oh! don't."it is frenzyto repeatthese thoughtsto you" (255).As one critichas written sentedprimarily assuranceof in describingthismysticunion."that'snotwhatI mean!" (73). We thusbegin to see thatthis failureof interpretationruns deeper than any local misunderstandingsof Heathcliffand Catherine on the part of Nelly. .

thoughrevelationsare "half-addressed"to listeners.10 on Mon.167.the mostcrucialscenes ofthe novel centeraroundthose dialoguesin whichshe herselfmustplay the listener to Heathcliff'sand Catherine's revelatoryconfessions.thatwhile Nelly clearly directsher tale to Lockwood. the irregularlens throughwhichwe see everycharacterin the novel? Why would she actuallydramatizea frustrated interchangeseen fromthe position of an uncomprehending observer-as if she had built an intentionallyskewed frameof referenceinto her novel? And if this distortingframedoes leave us in what Miller calls "ultimatebafflement. 139). whatare we to make of those longstandingcriticaldilemmaswhich continueto dog the novel: the unaccountablecrueltyand otherGothicevents."how mightBrontehave expectedus to respondto such an exegeticalpredicament?That is.Indeed.the importof Catherine's climacticstatement.the framenarrative and representationsof reading.We have noted.since it is actuallybuiltarounda pairofspeaker/listener paradigms. We can startto answer these questions of interpretation and responseby reexamining whatis certainlythe mostimmediateaudience forHeathcliff's and Catherine'sstory-those incorporated auditorswho firstwitnessthe narrative. colloquyis not. the questionofwho interpretsand who narratesbecomes a complexone in thisnovel. Macovski This content downloaded from 192.8 We are left. Whereas exposure may be possible in thisnovel.if these critical problemsare inseparablefromthe elusivebeautyofthe novel.It is. the finallisMichael S.What is more. And once again. Though she is a storytellerin her own right.forshe acts as an interpreterpositionedbetween an unexplainedcharacterand an uncomprehendingaudience.we muststillask what theysay about the statusofinterpretive possibilityin Bront6'sworld.preciselythisdisjunctionthat blurs the line between speakersand listeners. whywould Bronteemphasizethese flawed interpretations by making them the central point of view. Nellymustthereforebe both tellerand listener.theyrepeatedly encounterinterpretivesilence.she is also a listenerattempting to fathomthe "history" of an enigmaticHeathcliff(37.then. forinstance. moreover. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 367 ."I am Heathcliff"?9 Finally.209. with the question of why this novel would incorporatea self-consciously flawed model of listening.I will argue thatmanyof these unresolvedquestionsare a resultofwhatI considerthe vital structureofthe novel: an epistemologicaldisjunctionbetweenlistenersand speakers.

We can thusreconsiderWutheringHeightsas a convergenceof apostrophes.Indeed.thisself-creation changes with a listener. anotherlevel. Lastly. elsewherein WutheringHeights.and showing how thismethodilluminatesthe literaryspeaker'sestablishment ofhis or her own selfbeforean addressee. she in effectreenactsthe nineteenthOn centurytransformation of confessioninto self-decipherment. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and is accordinglyanalogousto such psychoanalytic processes as the past and transferring reconstructing ontothe other.many studies note the deploymentof framenarrativein Wuthering 368 WutheringHeightsand theRhetoricofInterpretation This content downloaded from 192. At otherpointsin the resultsfroma character's"dialogic"internovel. Instead.I willarguethat the novel continuallykeeps the possibilityof interpretation open bysustaininga rhetoricalprocessofunderstanding. I would suggest thatwhen the speakersof WutheringHeightsaddress a listener.theyneverthelessestablishmodels ofongoingcomprehensionand interpretation forthereader. I show how. I arguethatwhen Brontduses the narrativeaddressto an auditoras a mode of interpretation." III Thoughthe actualpurposeofauditionis rarelydiscussed.this narrativeexposuretakeson attributesofan interpretive dialogue.I suggestthatthis desire to inspiritthe selfthroughan otheris nineteenth-century best explainedby Coleridge'sconceptof"outness"-that statein whichhe can definethe "Boundary"ofhis external"Self.a chainofrhetoricalexposures. by enactinga seriesofhermeneuticforms.thatthesenarrativeexposurestakeon different functionsat variouspointsin the novel. On one level.tenersin thissuccessionof audiences are the readers:we receive Lockwood'sjournalofuncertaindestination.167.In thissense. takingas my model thechild'smethodofmirroring his ego ontoan other. listener'sfunctionis bothinterpretive It is not surprising. then. While mostofthese interpretations breakdown duringthe novel.10 on Mon.but the actualfashioning ofthisselfin termsoftheother.but ofthemselvesas well. the and ontological.What is more.For even when theseaddressescome up againstinadequateaudition. I ultimatelyreject the notionthatBront6leaves us withonlycircumscribedvisionand misinterpretation.theyin effectexpose a hiddenpartofthe self-expose it to theinterpretation notonlyofthe other.theserhetoricalexposuresbeforean othercome to representnot onlythe separateinterpretation ofselfand other.I thenexpand on Bront6'sview of self-interpretation.which I go on to consider in light of Bakhtin'sparadigmof multiplevoices.209.

We soon learn.Heathcliff. He further contendsthatBranderhamhas committeda "sin thatno Christian Michael S. He representsthatomnipresentyet lishiddenincubusthatmustbe verbalizedbeforean interpretive tener."comparableto a "ghoul" or "vampire"thatmustbe unmasked(258-60). Lockwoodnotes that"eitherJoseph. CharlotteBront6. to Catherine.Nelly Dean's imat one point.too. These termsare.' exposed and excommunicated"(28.For instance. Earnshaw.whichin turnbecome further rativeconfession. refersto Heathcliff -a Ghoul" (12). and even by the end ofthe novel he remainsa "dark thing"forher (260). 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 369 . He thus personifiesan almostuniversalguilt in this narrative.the mysteriouslocus of the tale. however.that the immoralacts which disturbLockwood and thepreacherproveto be no ordinaryChristiansins:Lockwood insiststhat"theywere of the mostcuriouscharacter-odd transgressionsthatI had never imaginedpreviously"(29).10 on Mon.an autochthonousother who returnsto haunt nearly everycharacterin the novel.but because ofhis relationto the othercharacters in the novel.209. It is thiskindofpersistentguiltthathelps to explainthe need to expose the "beast"withinWutheringHeights.and standsas the reminderofher confessed"cowto Nelly.the preacher. possibly.10Yet what such studiesmiss is thatthese Gothicfeatures are precisely what gives the novel its framedform. emphasis added).he becomes the image ofinnocencelost and passionabandoned.Heathcliff to him. mist-shrouded house.Still otherapproachesstressthe Gothicelementsof the novel (the enigmatichero.he representsfamilialdisruption and. and so on).since the Gothic evils actuallypromptthe need forexposure to an other withina narrativeframe. It is such a "beast" that must be rhetorically loosed fromWutheringHeights. in her second preface as one "animatedby demon life to the novel.the memoryof adulterouslove.or I had comand were to be publicly mittedthe 'First of the Seventy-First.she alludes to himas an "evil pressionsofHeathcliff: beast" (94). is also the very incarnationof guilt. To Mr.Heights.Accordingly. Bront6repeatedlyinvokes this notion of evil incarnateas somethinggrosslyinhumanand "unnatural. in fact. not only because of his own vengefulaction. Macovski This content downloaded from 192. hidden evil. This daemonicallyrepresentedevil also spawnsa host of guilty motivesfornaracts intothe novel.167.in recountinghis dream about JabesBranderham'sinvectivesermon.as well as her consequentpunishardice and inhumanity" ment (39).

they remain unredeemableby any conventionalnotion of repentance. and we would do well to examineeach ofthemseparately."My confessionshave notrelievedme" (256).In Michel Foucault'sformulation.and suistry. bothofthese rolesbecome crucialwithin the apostrophicformof the novel. each is framingthese mysteries withina mode of discoursethatdemands as much decipherment fromthe speakingconfesseeas it does fromthe listeningconfessor (39. in Bront6'snovel reflectsthe The role ofthe speaker/confessee as opview of confessionas self-examination."lGenerally theologianssought to transspeaking.as such.too.these "odd transgressions" seem to falloutsidethe realmofevangelicalChristianmorality.or pardonby a listeningother. Thus when Brontedepictsbothcharactersdeployingthe rhetoricofconfession. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . confessionalrhetoricwas also interpretation his seen as enablinga speakerto structurehis own self-knowledge.In WutheringHeights.when Heathcliffand Catherinedeliberately seek to confess their secrets.now.but withwhatwas hidden fromhimself"(66).209.167. especiallycrucial when Bronte ceases "makingthe confessiona 370 WutheringHeightsand the Rhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192.many nineteenth-century formthe confessionfroma coercive means of compellingsecret truthsto a bilateralexaminationofself-a mutual.need pardon"(29). This role becomes herein lies the role of the listener/confessor. Earlier religious encountershad stressed an outside witness'srole in both and absolution.As we have bringsthisformdirectlyinto questionwhen he noted. turyalteredthe scope ofthe confession. Bronteworksout the implicationsof these unpardonablesins withinthe narrativestructureof bogus confession. 70).two-sidedhermeneutic in which both roles are crucial to interpretation. Generallyspeaking. Heathcliff says. That Heathcliff would referto these outpouringsas "confessions"is particularly detelling.but disclosurewithinselfas well.absolution. nineteenth-century posed to the earlier injunctionto provide evidence forexternal "the nineteenthcenjudgment. Yet the confessionalmode still necessitatessome externalcahoweverinadequate it appears in WutheringHeights. process of learningwhat was "hidden fromhimself."Hence in WutheringHeights. Such revelationis not onlyexposureof self(to another).she suggeststhateach is engaged in a process of revealingthe self.it tended no longerto be concernedsolelywithwhat the subject wished to hide [fromanother].10 on Mon.forhis termreflectsa widespreadnineteenth-century sire to adapt and redefine the confessionalform.

when any confessing speakerencountersa failedresponse. This heuristicagain demands the presence of a listener. forhe or she is the rhetoricalequivalentof the analyticor interpretivefigure.209.yet thisinabilityto apprehend the Heightsworlddoes not inhibitthe dual roles ofthe confessionform. Michael S. Indeed.despitethe factthat manyofthe novel's secretsremainopaque. however. then.However inadequate the casuistryof Lockwood and Nelly.167."thisrhetorical situationbecomes a figureor signforongoinginterpretation.In WutheringHeights.an interchangebetween selfrevelationand externaldecipherment."theyreenactthisconfessional figure. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 371 . as Foucault notes. and therebyenact a rhetoricalsearch forunorthodoxnotionsof reliefand pardon. IV Narrativeaddressesin WutheringHeightsthusmakeuse ofconfessionaltropes. Confessionalnarration thus takes on a hermeneuticfunction:a confessionalimpulse can be realized as truthonly in the presence of a listenerwho both assimilates and attemptsto interpretit.a methodbest explainedin terms methodofinterpreting of the psychoanalytic dialogue. the narrativeaddress itself constitutesa signofinterpretive engagement. though. it neverthelesskeeps the continuingattemptto interpret confessionbefore Bronte'sreader.test. For when Heatheliffand Catherine seek to "turn"or "let out" theirselves "to another.confessionis a "ritualin whichthe truth is corroboratedby the obstaclesand resistancesit has had to surmountin orderto be formulated"(62). In otherpassages. The personal secrets withinWutheringHeightscan be revealedonlywithina symbiosis between confessee and confessor. tempted colloquy in WutheringHeights signifiesa proleptic the self.10 on Mon. Accordingly. Inasmuch as the presence of Bronte's listenersdraws forthwhat a speakerhas "hiddenfromhimself.Even Lockwood can hold this rhetoricalplace in the novel. especially since his earlyrequestto playthelistenerto Nelly'snarrativeactuit is Lockallyinitiatesthe analyticformofthe novel.thisproblematicinterpretation may in factbe evidence thata speaker'srevelationis taking place.such deciphermentis particularlyscarce amonglistenersin WutheringHeights.even an agonisticone. but rathera sign" (67). Once again. the addresses in the novel representa more overtformof interpretation-an enactmentof thatnarrativeformwhichis intrinsiIn rhetoricalterms.the recurrenceof thisatcally self-analytical. Macovski This content downloaded from 192.

"somethingofmyneighbours"(37).In becomingthe other. . to have maintainedsilence.a positionthat actuallyenables them to inhabit an other's criticalfacultyand applyit to themselves. "We have overtexperienceof this[projection]when we say 'I suppose you thinkthatthisis. As one psychoanalyst interpreting has put it. . "You'llperhaps thinkme ratherinclinedto become ['insane']" (255). 118). "decypher"Catherine's"faded hieroglyphics"(26). only to exhibita finetraitof magnanimity" (255. What distinguishesthis analyticrhetoricis thatit allows characterslike Heathcliff and Catherineto effectthe kindofprojective self-understanding sought during the psychoanalyticexchange. 37).209. Hence both Catherine'sand Heathcliffssecretsare consciously "half-addressed" to Nelly.we encounter such projection most explicitly when Heathcliff (speakingof Cathy's "startlinglikeness" to her mother)says to Nelly. . Earlier.its interpretive quest to fathomHeathcliff's "curiousconduct"and "character"(19.When Heathcliff. strives to verbalize the "eternallysecluded" self. Their heuristicaddresses proceed not in spite of but because of a paucityof genuinelyinsightful listeners. When these charactersaddressan interpretive figure. Finally.is actuallythe least.despite her avowed preference.forNelly'sunresponsivesilence enables themto envisionher as a rhetoricalsurrogate. Generallyspeaking. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .for instance."Nelly'sblanksilence momentarily helps him to appropriateher angle ofvisionand substitute a personalperspective:it allows him to "tryto describe the thousandformsof . he says. . emphasisadded).in Lockwood'swords. . ideas [Hareton] awakens.to "turnit out to another. or embodies" (255). and uncover. Heathcliffagain makes use of thisother-directed tropein attemptingto comprehendthe "maddening"and "strangechange"in him:againaddressingNelly. "12 In WutheringHeights. .Catherinetoo depends on Nelly'sauditionwithout 372 WutheringHeightsand theRhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192.wood who voices the novel's analyticintention. forwhat is not connected withher to me?" (255. .he wondersaloud to Nelly if his failureto avenge himself"sounds [to you] as if I had been labouringthe whole time.as we have seen."That.10 on Mon.theyenterthe interpretiveprocess.167.charactersengaged in this projective typeofself-analysis assume the stanceofthe other. cf.theyconjuretheirown analysisas well as their own listeners.theynecessarilyattemptto imaginehis listeningexperience. whichyou maysuppose the mostpotentto arrest my imagination.his process of theirdirectedaddress.an analyticproxy.

one whose functionis not so much interpretiveas suitedto hisontological. Indeed.and.includingthe absent the mis-hearing Heathmother. 75).attemptsto "turn out" his mind.10 on Mon.I could not recollect. . 37).he seeks to recoverhis past dialoguesnotonlywith Catherine.cf. Such rhetoricenables Catherineto recoverwhatis "enclosed to reconsider"separation.andmyheartachedwithsomegreat oak-panelled griefwhich. forinstance.and mymisery . describing first Nelly.Accordingly. Hence Bronte'sdialogic novel essentiallyexhumes the hidden past of its most impenetrablecharacters.thereare necessarilyechoes of parallel conversationsburied in his or her past. . Here again. narrativeapostropheserves to disinterthe buried figuresin a character'spast. She must"become the other"to interpretherself. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 373 . to the recoveryofwhatLockwoodrefersto as Heathcliff and Catherine's"history"(36.167."in a word. most thewholelastsevenyearsofmylifegrewa blank! strangely." she demands.myfather thatHindleyhad orderedbetween arosefromtheseparation me and Heathcliff.209.When Heathcliff.Yet thisanalyticrhetoricserves anotherpurpose in the novel.Catherineseeks to know the criticalfacultyofher listenersin orderto distinguish her own.heedingher response:"tell me.just waking. And when Catherinerepeatedlyendeavorsto "let out" her "secret" beforeNelly (70).."whatI've done to grieve[Heatheliff]" (72. .much as the analyticdialogue invokesa series of transferences to figuresfroman analysand'spast. Thus the implieddialoguesin Wutheritng Heightsare analyticin thattheyenable Catherineand Heathcliff to recreatethe externalityof the other.. Macovski This content downloaded from 192. to "recollect. In her "fit" or dream to she cliff. . I was a child.indulgentfather. she is attemptingto evoke a series of interlocutors fromher own history. when a characterin WutheringHeightsmanagesto initiatesuch addresses.108) Here again. but with those unknownlistenerswho presumably constitutehis own hidden past: he exposes his thoughts"4to another"in orderto revivethe "'pastassociations"ofhis mysterious history(255). such analyticexchangescan representa successionofpast dialoguesfroma given speaker'shistory. says: Nelly..I'll tellyouwhatI thought. (107. The attempteddialoguethusdisintersa character'srhetoricalhistory. I was enclosedin the bed athome.For thisanalyticformis also particularly toricalreconstruction.."' Michael S. wasjustburied. ultimately.

Accordingto thisview.whichagain primalrecognition accountsforthe self-defining other'srepeatedlytakingthe formof an addressee."surelyyou and everybodyhave a notionthatthereis. 'as in a cationas a mirroring.JacquesLacan's termforthechild'sclarificationof selfhoodby focusingon an otherwithwhom he can identify.Accordingly.Lacan sees thisprocessofself-identifi"a veritablecaptureby theother. past dialogueswithboth Heathcliff these characters initiate an interpretivereenactmentof past voices-a regressthatultimately extendsback to thatoriginaldialogue with the self.this also takesplace in rhetoricalterms.Catherinesays to Nelly.'in the sense thatthe subject identifieshis sentimentof Selfin the image ofthe other.167. since only throughlanguage can the otherbothmanifestitselfand provide"recognition. "the firstobject of desire is to be recognized by the other"(31)." she says to identityin Heathcliff: Nelly. establishingselfin thenovel mustnecessarilybe a linguisticact. In WutheringHeights.but to provide them withrecognition-the selfimagedin the other. the auditorsofher first linguisticera. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The child therebydefineshis ego by projectinghis own separatenessontoan other.In whatis perhaps themostexplicitaccountofthisprojectedselfhood.In each case. Later.she adds. mirror. the recreationofdialoguegivesvoice to a silent historyand therebyallows for its reinterpretation.thatconfrontation with the otherwhich we experienceduringthe "mirrorstage. Even Nelly. his and mine are the same" (72).10 on Mon. Catherine'sflawed addresses attemptto invokeher fatherand Heathcliff.by sustainingher ownnarrativeaddress beforeLockwood."14 It is thismirrorstageconfrontation thatlies at the heartof manysustainedaddresses in WutheringHeights. "Whateverour souls are made of. and it is preciselythisdesireforrecognitionofselfin otherthatin turnpromptsCatherineto envisionher "He's more myselfthanI am. or 374 WutheringHeightsand theRhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192."15 v Thus theanalyticaddresseeservesnotonlyto representthepast interlocutorsof Heathcliffand Catherine.moreover."''3 This stageis.Indeed.If Heathcliff's truncateddialogueswithNellyrepresenthis desire to hear his earliesthistoricvoice.foronlyin being recognizedby the autochthonous othercan characterslike Heathcliffand Catherineextracttheir own identities. don'ttalkofour separationagain -it is impracticable"(74). "so. ofcourse.attemptsto imposesome contrivedorderon her and Catherine.209.

Oh. Macovski This content downloaded from 192. On one level.Later. .then. .the surrogatesoul. thispassage also alludesto a morevital capacityto move outsideofone's containedexistence. logic relationshipcan make the selfaware ofits own distinctness."Yeton anotherlevel. Whatwere theuse of my creationif I were entirelycontainedhere?" (73-74).notonlyforothersbut dialogically"(252. we repeat.shouldbe. continuous (207) Consciousnessthus dissolvesunless projectedagainstthe "background"of the other. onlydo not leave me . can actuallyunveil the self to itself. firsttimethatwhichhe is-and. .209.167.to establish too seeks creationand being throughan other. "take any form.We can say.His consciousness of oftheother'sconsciousness ceivedagainstthebackground of"I foranother.The mostimportant self-consciousnessare determinedby a relationshiptowardanotherconsciousness(towarda thou). object He writes <I am consciousthroughanother. .thatwhen Michael S. tion. . beyond" emphasisadded). of course." onlyin oppositionto the superego. he cries to her. To be meansto communicate . Heathcliff when. an existenceofyoursbeyondyou. Thus dialoguewiththe "Cexistence enactsthe ego. . God! it is unutterable!I cannotlive withoutmy life!I recognizesthatlife cannotlive withoutmysoul!" (139).He goes on: "in dialogue a but he becomesfor the personnot onlyshowshimselfoutwardly. .upon learningofCatherine's thisexternalizedidentification death. . As Bakhtinsaysearlier: boundup The hero'sattitudetowardhimselfis inseparably ofanandwiththeattitude towardanother."16 For Bakhtin. thisontological formulated The criticwho has mostthoroughly connectionbetween speaker and other is Mikhail Bakhtin. ." actsconstituting and withthehelp ofanother.this "thou" whichis to say thatonlythisdiahypostatizesself-consciousness. "self-consciousness. beyond" refersto she is explaininga unionthateventuallydefies"separaHeathcliff." him-"I formyself'againstthebackground underthe are structured Thusthehero'swordsabouthimself influence ofsomeoneelse'swordsabouthim.The limitsof the "I" emerge only amidst much as the Freudian ego takes form contrastswiththe "1thou. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 375 . that speak of that "existence. Heathcliff inheresin the formofthe other.10 on Mon.To self. forhimselfas well. . withhis attitude ofselfis constantly perothertowardhim. beyond" the "contained"> calls Bakhtin at once what is to of speak who informs being. Catherine's "existence .

265.""company. withinan intensefieldofinterorientations" establish being if that characters in mind further bear must We 376 WutheringHeightsand the RhetoricofInterpretation This content downloaded from 192. proclaiminghimselfa "perfect he ultimatelycasts his narrativein the formof misanthropist. cf.of course. Catherine. In WutheringHeights."and remarksupon Heathcliffscuriousantipathy toward"conversation"(35. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .167.in whichone "investshis entireselfin discourse.forinstance.Catherinesuggeststhather "existence. Nelly."or "union" (247-250. societyof Catherine. finditself. beyond"the selfcompletesher own being. Bronte'sconceptof selfis thusessentiallyplural. and even Joseph each refer to disparate versions of a "friend. cf. itwithinthe socialworld. . the self"must (239). In each case."For instance. . ." whathe calls "sociable conversation"with Nelly (22). being"(74). a matterof perceivingthe otheras "background"foridentity. after onlytwodays at the Grange. the quest forsuch companionsrepresentsthe self. .She attemptsto locateherconsciousness withina humanorder.he also acknowledgesa need for"social intercourse. she acknowledgesthatonlyin engagingthe otherdoes she "become forthe firsttime thatwhich [she] is."alwaysin mymind-not as a pleasure .yet we should also cravesthe preternatural recognizethat.to eschew (in Lockwood'swords)the "perpetual isolation"of being "banished fromthe world" (17.10 on Mon. livingis himself'(74)."1tobe means to communicatedialogically":onlythisdialogicpresence sustains she insists." In both passages. Hence thisneed forsocial intercourserecalls Bakhtin'snotionof polyphonicdiscourse."forBronte."mygreatthoughtin herselfhood.nearlyeverycharacterin the novel voices a commensurateneed forsuch social interchange. 38). As Bakhtingoes on to say. 240).as what she refersto as "society. in her sciousnessof [her]. establishingthe ego is a contrastiveact. but as myown words.""companion.like Lockwood. she recognizesthat"consciousnessofselfis constantlyperceived againstthe backgroundof the other'sconis. .InvokingHeathcliff. Thus "living. Heathcliffhimself. Then. 17).and thisdiscourseentersintothe dialogicfabricofhuman life"(16).social in the broadestsense.Catherineaccordinglyabhorswhatshe calls "separation"since.again.althoughLockwood pretends to abjure this society(13)." When she concludesthatHeathcliff .to place withHeathcliff.in seekingunion socially-connected is actuallystrivingto orienther existence.requireskeepingthe other"in mind": "existence" partakes of the other (74).this othercan also manifestitselfcollectively. moreover.209.Cathy.

throughsocial intercourse. Indeed.theyalso stressthisdelineationof self as vocal or spoken. what Bakhtinrefersto as "dialogues. we have seen thatthroughout otheris necessarilyan auWutheringHeights the self-affirming ditor.reveal itselfamong the spoken responsesof inadequate listeners.In Wuthering Heights. Hence Cathy Linton acknowledgesHareton's identityby firstassailinghis silence.and thatthe foregoingsocial "interorientations" are necessarilyspoken. too. VI Bakhtin'sdiscussionsof the dialogicconsciousnessof self thus serve to clarifyBronte's concepts of existenceand social intercourse." "Life. you mustlistento me (247). he goes on the ego withindialogue.withplural self-consciousness. . the writerwho best exemplifiesthe nineteenth-century concernwith is Cothe externally-defined self.Hareton.to separate one's voicefromanothervoicewithwhichit has inseparably merged-these are the tasksthatthe heroes solve in the thehero'sdiscourse.to combineit withsomeand to opposeit to others. For Heathcliff. Macovski This content downloaded from 192. the dream narrativesof Heatheliffand Catherine must also "orient [themselves]among other voices". an act which.the processofdefiningthe selfis bothcontrastiveand verbal: one must oppose one's voice to another's. In thefollowing passage."by its verynatureis dialogic. thisontologicallisteningmustprecede a potentialunion:as we have noted. emphasisadded). courseofthenovel. The ego mustbe overheardin the formof a voice.his plea to Catherineis "hear me this time" (33)." Tofindone'sownvoiceandto orientitamongothervoices.ifhe listens. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 377 . of to develop this notionof portraying individuating the selfas a "voice.whose aestheticsare cited by the manycriticswho insist Michael S.Only such interchanges-includingthe listening whichunderliesthem-can resonatethe social self. (239) Here again.to agree.10 on Mon. to respond.Indeed. revealitselfamongotherwords."Hareton. "do you hear? . each must "finditself. Hareton!"she cries.Andthisdetermines It mustfinditself. leridge.and so forth"(293.to heed. Yet we need not rely solely on moderncommentaryto expand on this notion of consciousness-in-other.167.To live means to participate in dialogue:to ask questions.then. .209.will rhetoricallyintroduceher intohis discourseand his life." he writes.

209. he'salways.10 on Mon.and in livingis himself. we can betterunderstandits portrayalof "existence"(73). I shouldnotseema partofit . "Self in me derivesits sense of Being fromhavingthis one absolute Object" (2:3148).always stranger. (74) and the external What Catherineis suggestingis thatHeathcliff. mygreatthought tobe. . 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .like Bakhtin. in mymind-not as a pleasure. and.167. "conscience" (73).he too represents ofan externalotheroftendiffers thisontologicalpartneras a dubious listener(especiallyin poems like "The Rime of The AncientMariner"and "Christabel"). Her "Ob378 WutheringHeightsand theRhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192."he in effectconfirms mighthave said. butall Boundary I shouldhaveno Self-forSelfis Definition."Self' is definedas a conscience"towardsothers. and "being" (74) ifwe brieflyexamineColeridge'sanalysisof the same issues. ."Such "Relations"essentiallydistinguishthe individual"Consciousness"and make it "knowable.17 Althoughhis use fromBront6's.or Relations. impliesNeighbourhood-&is knowableonlyby Neighbourhood. however. In embodyingher "Boundary"or "Relations.anymorethanI am alwaysa pleasureto myself-butas myownbeing. I shouldcontinue heremained. "conscience"he standsfor. FromConscience! tinuable)Consciousness? & dutiestowards formyconscience-i." Catherine's can effectively one explanationofthisprojectedbeing is thuscrucial: Ifall else perished.Regardless of the novel's Romanticallegiances. For bothBronteand Coleridgediscuss"being"in thecontextofwhatColeridge." Hence Catherineherself verse.on the RomanticqualityofWutheringHeights. myaffections others.calls "Consciousness.can actuallydelimitselfin thisnovel." It is this sense of "Boundary"and "Definition"thatCatherine onlyhe & dutiestowards"Heathcliff: derivesfromher "affections representwhatshe refersto as "being.e." a "Boundary"consistingofclose "Relations." In Coleridge'scase. defining"Self' is a matterofestablishingthis "Consciousness"through"Conscience": (and ever-conFromwhatreasonsdo I believein continuous but Notformyself.ifall else remained. (2:3231) For Coleridge. as Coleridgedid."Heathcliffenables her to "continueto be". theUniversewouldturnto a mighty andhe wereannihilated. in representingher linkwith "the Uniher "being.

by the time of his death."thatstatein whichhe can expose or "withdraw" his "painfulPeculiarities.forhe is essentiallylivingout herstateddescriptionofher "If all else perished. For both Coleridgeand Catherinecan circumscribethe "Peculiarities"of the selfonlyby establishingthis definitive "outness.by makingher outnessone withHeathcliffs.209. beyond"one's "conCatherine tained" self.to demarcate"existence. .and he remained. over." When she momentarily loses this "Boundary" (during Heathcliff'sabsence). fromthe dark Adytof [his] own Being" (3:4166). ." essentiallydelimitsher existence by locatingit in another.167. she necessarily loses her "being"and perishes(85).whichalso underliesthe novel'slast ghostlyimagesofCatherine and Heathcliff.ject" thus definesa mental"Neighbourhood.Thus. In Coleridge's terms. It is the symbolic and rhetoricalpresenceofsuch listenersthatenables Catherineto expose her self. it is this projectionof selfthatfinallyaccountsforthe attenuatedimageofthe second generationunionforin this couple.3624).thisoutnessemergeseven in the formofthe fecklesslistenersin WutheringHeights:theyprovide not corroboration by othersso much as an exposurebefore conscience. For we can now accountforthis equation by reflectingon what we have been callingCatherine'savowedneed foroutness. Catherine'sapparentneed forthisprojectedexistenceor "Definition"is furtherexplicablein lightofwhat Coleridgeelsewhere refersto as "outness."And once again.It is thisnotionofoutness thatalso accountsforHeathcliffslast visionsof Catherine's specter.I should conexternality: moretinue to be" (14). ."to "continueto be. not only do part of Catherineand Heathcliff "continueto be.10 on Mon. As the novel closes. And it is this depictionof self-defining. theyhave at last establishedthisexternally hypostatizedself-through-other." but a symbolof theirrhetoricalprocessof outMichael S. Macovski This content downloaded from 192."whichin turndefinesher place in "the Universe. ."I am Heathcliff" (74). I would say." Here.we are addressingwhatis perhapsthe most perplexingcriticaldilemmasurroundingWutheringHeights:the statusofCatherine'scrypticstatement. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 379 .the sole "Impulse" forestablishing"Outness"is to unveilor "withdraw"the hiddenself-and "notthewishforothersto see it" (3:4166.thatdesire to definebeing in termsofan "existence. in the statement"I am Heathcliff. She fallsvictimto whatColeridge calls "the incorporeity oftruelove in absence"-that "incorporeity"of "Self' whichfollowsfromthe loss of "Definition"(3: 4036).

09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 2 See J. A.see page 17 forthe referenceto the "barred"doors ofthe HeightsWorld."The Brontes."Nineteenth-Century 8. 1961). 1983). respectively.1963).The legacyof the auditoris thusconfirmed.and Sonstroem(cited in notes 4 and 17)-again suggeststhisapproach. Hillis Miller's Fiction and Repetition(Cambridge: Harvard Univ. ed. Carol Jacobs. Napier. My citationsofthe novel referto thisedition."The Problemof Boundariesin WutheringHeights. Morris. Finally."her own outness. and JacquelineViswanathan. FordhamUniversity NOTES 1 For an indicationofthisextraordinary rangeofreadings-a rangeso contradictory thatit begins to suggesta problematicapproachto interpretation-see RichardLettis and William E." Orbis Litterarum29 (1974): 42-60. 49. Paul. "WutheringHeights: At the ThresholdofInterpretation..ed."Double Fiction32 (1977): Plotsand Dialogical Formin VictorianFiction. as well as the criticismselected in William M." in The EnglishNovel: Select BibliographicalGuides.WutheringHeights:An Anthologyof Criticism(London: FrankCass. 97. 219-20. aspect ofWutheringHeightsin note 17."Nineteenth-Century "Point of View and Unreliabilityin Bronte's WutheringHeights. "The Unreliable Narratorin Wuthering Fiction27 (1973): 449-68. 1974).) I have summarizedresearchon this Regardingthe novel's Romanticcharacteristics.. Conrad's Under WesternEyes. 218-45. 4 Those studiesthatattributethe novel's problemsofinterpretation to its narrators' "unreliability"include Gideon Shunami." Boundary2 7 (1979): 68. Jr. 380 WutheringHeightsand theRhetoricofInterpretation This content downloaded from 192. Dyson (London: OxfordUniv.fromAllan R."Moderna Sprak 66 (1972). Press.it too partakesof the hermeneuticalapproachthathas prevailedduringthe last fifteenyears.A briefglance at the titlesofthese studies-see Donoghue."Emily Bronte:The RomanticNovelist. The remainderofMiller'scommentscitedin thissectionare froman earlierversion of his chapter on the novel: "WutheringHeights and the Ellipses of Interpretation. AlthoughBrick'sessay predates the period I am discussing.see note 3. Sale. Heights.209. Press.ness necessarilylives on.. 1974). (I have also adopted the critical practiceof using "Catherine" to designateCatherineEarnshaw. Miriam Allott.167. Jacobs. reprinted in Lettis and Morris. E. AlastairG."her own "Definition"of own "affection "Conscience"and "Self. with Essays in Criticism(New York:Norton. 3 The three phrases are. and Peter K. See also Elizabeth R. For a surveyof what I see as the prevailingapproach to the novel duringthe last fifteenyears.she necessarilyprovidesa vehicle forher & duties towardsothers. who notes that his essay "is not intended to circumscribethe range of interpretationof WutheringHeights(whichis splendidlyimpossibleanyway)"(3)." Notre Dame EnglishJournal12 (1980): 85-100. and Peter Widdowson. 27.ed.. Everitt.Leavis's observationalso accounts forthe unusuallydisparateattemptsto approach this novelistic "sport" and trace its "undetectable" influence. 1967)."PhilologicalQuarterly63 (1984): 96. A WutheringHeights Handbook (New York:Odyssey Press.New York:New YorkUniv. WutheringHeights: An AuthoritativeText. and Message. he briefly mentionsthe novel in The Great Tradition(1948.Audience.10 on Mon. reprint. Press." College English 21 (November 1959): 81. Brick. The Bront&s:The Critical Heritage (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan. 1973). Miriam Allott. and Mann's Doktor Faustus. Garrett. 52-53. And when the youngerCathyultimately asks Haretonto listen.and "Cathy" to refer to her daughterby Edgar Linton. "WutheringHeights: Narrators.eds.

Fictionand Repetition.however. And I would add that WutheringHeights is less about the of "urban life"and the Heights than about interpretiverhetoricand incompatibility the epistemologicalchasmbetween listenersand narrators. Mark Schorer followsGarrod in interpretingthe originalplan of the novel as the edificationof a sophisticatedand sentimentalprig. 7 See WalterE.neverexplainshis use of the term"normalskepticalreader. can onlybe addressed ifwe considerthe statusoflistenersin the novel.the reactionsofmorethanjust the "ordinaryreader"informthe frame structureof the novel. 61. he suffers authorattributesto the average London readerintowhose handsher book will fall.In his introductionto the RinehartCollege Edition. Both Miller (67) and Jacobs(note 3) argue thatthe languageof the novel leaves us witha "missingcenter"(56).forreasonswhichI willmake clear.forhis commentary intelligentnor sensitive)."nor does he mentionwhy Bront6would feel the need to representsuch a reader's reactionsin thisparticularnovel.notonlyrepulsesthe verypossibilityofinterpretive Michael S. 340.but he is representativeof urbanlifeand by originunfitted forthe tempooflifeabout the Heights"(315). Woodringcomes closestto the concernsofthis fromthe inanityhis studywhen he writes:"If he [Lockwood] seems inane.167."The Narrators ofWutheringHeights.. See also Clifford Collins. Collins maintainsthat "Lockwood not only exhibitsthe reactionsthat may be expected fromthe ordinary is carefullyshownto be neither reader(therebyinvalidatingthem.The textis over-rich"(52). There leaves somethingover."The LyricalFormofWuthering Heights.however. Despite thisrevision..10 on Mon. most charactersin this novel do deny its visionarypremises (as represented by its spectralsymbols)and in doing so theydeny not onlythe novel. We mustalso ask how readerssince 1847 have read the novel: do theysharereactionswhichhave been widely recognizedto be inadequate to the novel? Such questions.209.wherehe writesthat"thereis no secret truthwhich criticismmightformulate"as a "principleof explanationwhich would accountforeverything in the novel" (51). 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 381 ."Nineteenth-Century Fiction 11 (1957): 298-305."92. 63). reprintedin Sale's editionofthe novel (309-18). This somethingleftout is clearlya significant are alwaysin facta group of such significant details which have been leftout of any reductionto order. cannotbe identifiedforWutheringHeights"(53.. Yet if Miller dwells on that"remnantofopacitywhichkeeps the interpreterdissatisfied" (51). 5 "WutheringHeights and the Ellipses of Interpretation.Lockwood."University of TorontoQuarterly47 (1977-78): 120. Of course.who writesthatthe "act ofinterpretation detail. 6 See. See also J. "A Modern Way withthe Classic. 338. Anderson. Woodring.he is clearlyaware ofthemwhen he writesthatopacitykeeps "the processof interpretation stillable to continue"(51-52) and that"the situationof the reader of WutheringHeightsis inscribedwithinthe novelin the situationsofall thosecharacters who are readers [and] tellersof tales" (70). Lockwood reactsforthe normalskepticalreader in appropriateways at each stage of the storyand its unfoldingtheme"(340). the phrases "surplusof signifiers"and "intrinsicplurality"are fromFrank Kermode.of outlook"are fromDavid SonThe phrases "reader's quandry"and "multiplicity stroem. YetI would saythat. Rather. I would say." The Critic 1 (Autumn 1947): 43-50. See especially315.Carl R.Althoughsuch concernsare finallydistinctfrom Miller's. Lockwood. but the audition. Miller goes on to revisethissentencein Fictionand Repetition. 425. reprintedin Sale's edition of the novel (338-43). Macovski This content downloaded from 192." New LiteraryHistory5 (1974): 434."he repeatedlystressesthe "bafflingof that effort"since an "interpretive origin." PMLA 86 (1971): 59. And althoughhe speaks of the reader's "process" and "effortof understanding.forinstance. forinstance.. always Hillis Miller. I argue thatthe rhetoricalforceofthosehermeneuticformsenacted in the novel counterbalancesthis opacity."WutheringHeightsand the Limits of Vision.he thengoes on to say that"it is impossibleto tell whetherthereis any secretat all hidden in the depths" of WutheringHeights(69). Woodring. in the naturalhuman values of grand passion. . "Theme and Conventionsin WutheringHeights.

as she says. . forinstance. .at least. And when Nelly encountersthe child who claims to have glimpsedthe deceased lovers.Nelly can onlyrespond. "execute upon him thejudgmentwritten"(29). for aftercondemning one of Catherine's explanations.10 on Mon. And responsein WutheringHeightsis patternedafterLockwood's auditionduringthis sermon. like Branderham. "you'lljudge as well as I can. see the anthologieslisted in note 1 (esp. Nelly regardseven her own dreams as lapses into "superstition.no interpretation other:as Nelly puts it to Lockwood.see. "I won'thear it.forhis "judgment"is actuallyretributionwhen he cries. she was either outside the window. and when he finallydoes prompta "return"fromher.the listenersof WutheringHeightsindulge in seeminglyarbitrarymoral judgments. the Reverend'scasuistryalso proves to be flawed. all these things. stare as ifyou saw an unearthlyvision" (261). Withoutinterpretivestandards. includingits potentialfor flawed judgment and moral caprice. Ronald A. she insiststhat"he probablyraised the phantoms fromthinking"(265). Lockwood calls Heathclifflsbelief in Catherine's ghost "folly"(33)-a term that Nelly later uses to describe Catherine's revelations(74). Generallyspeaking. "Don't. or sliding back the panels" (230). Lettis and Morris). then. .then the congregation itselfappears to misjudgeits leader's accountofLockwood and fallsupon one another. First Lockwood renounces his listeningrole and attacksthe offendingnarrator. I won't hear it! . He seems unawareofthe connectionbetween his waif-hauntednightmareand the later "confession" by Heathcliff:"the moment I closed my eyes. and am still" (72). Because of this moral subjectivity. "Satanic Conceits in Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights.though. you'llthinkyou will. "answer my question. auditionbecomes a punishmentwith narrationthe trial. with appropriate inclusiveness. . 8 As I go on to argue. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the entireissue ofjudgment as interpretationis a questionable one withinWutheringHeights: the Branderhamepisode. he reports." Southern Humanities Review 11 (1977): 355-62. "thoughI'm hardlya judge" (73). You must answer it. Listeners accordingly become the objects ofjudgmentin thisnovel. she adds. . ." Milton and the Romantics4 (1980): 1-15. We should also note thatLockwood's general incapacityforresponse precludes reactionnot onlyto the visionarymysteriesof Heathcliffand Catherine. . but also fails to understandhow this visionofCatherineresonatesthroughoutthe narrationhe hears fromNelly.like a snail. it is thisexposure which sustainsboth the ongoingprocess of and the vitalityofthe rhetoricalform. at every glance retiredcolder and farther" (15).This is notto say.shrunk icily into myself. erupts into a chain-reactionof misfiredauditions. "Heathcliff: 382 WutheringHeightsand the Rhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192. refersto as "humanweakness" (29). theyare "condemned to hear" what theycan never understand(29). Edgar too becomes the victim of broken colloquy when he demands of Catherine.209. each has "his private manner of intercan transcendanpreting"(29). forexample."I . . On an earlier occasion. Heathclifflmaster!"she cries. Even Nelly seems at times to recognize this possible failure. "I 'never told my love' vocally. By the end of the novel. I absolutely require to know"-only to hear her order him fromthe room (101-102). Finally. I was superstitiousabout dreams then. and that'sthe same" (152). when Catherine herselfbegins to describeher phantasmalunion withHeathcliff.a botched audition which Branderham. Indeed. like Lockwood. And indeed. Peter McIverney. continued until "dawn restoredme to commonsense" (260). 9 See Anderson(note 7) fora readingof Catherine'scelebrated statement. Bosco.167. forGod's sake. Later. . In the end."Heathcliffas Vampire.ghostlyCatherine's returnto Heatheliff(30). Once again. . Lockwood's silence obviates any rhetoricalreturn.For discussions of the othercriticaldilemmas mentionedhere. Heathcliffisencounterswith "ghosts and visions" promptthe same fearfulresponse fromNelly: "Mr. James Twitchell."he says. 10Numerousstudies of the novel allude to its "Gothic" character.thatthe interpretation novel discountsthe fallibilityof the interpretiveprocess."which.but even to the "fascinatingcreature"who earlier shows interestin him (15).

Koehler.trans. All quotationsare fromHurley's edition. 279. Louis: Concordia. (Washington. and Miriam Allott. (I would also note in passingthatnotonlyHeathcliff.. T. McConnell. Dyson (London: OxfordUniv. 1977). Unless otherwise noted..Straus and Cudahy. Brill. J. 80. Jr. "Propos sur la causalite psychique" (1950).10 on Mon. "Narration in the PsychoanalyticDialogue. The Compulsion to Confess: On the Psychoanalysisof Crime and Punishment(New York:Farrar. of CaliforniaPress. 40. S. and HenryC. 218-45. 1975)." in W. esp.L. Roy Schafer. 1815-1866 (Macon: Mercer Univ. 304. 66.D. 172-174. withparticularemphasis on his discussionof the infant'sontologicaldevelopment. 1984). 1966). Lea. 200. ed."When Talk is Not Cheap: The Language of Psychotherapy. presentedat the Georgetown UniversityRound Table on Languages and Linguistics1985. "The Brontes."MidwestQuarterly19 (1978): 383-97. 86. 1986).: The Catholic Univ.Studies in the Historyof Religions29 (Leiden: E.C. Historyof Sexuality. Counseling and Confession (St. E. Press.3 (Philadelphia:Sea Bros. "Some Sources ofWutheringHeights. esp. 55. Press. 1959)."Listeningand Speaking.C. 163. 14 See Lacan. 1968). The Psychoanalytic Dialogue (New Haven: Yale Univ. "Le Stade du miroir. and America. of America Press. " See Michel Foucault. 1969). 45. Press."On the Necessity of Collusion in Conversation. AnthonyWilden (Baltimore: JohnsHopkins Univ. On Narrative (Chicago and London: Univ.) 12 Stanley Leavy. 166. and Application. McKeever. For a more detailed historyof this shiftin confessionalrhetoric. 1896). " 'Like a Mad Dog': The Radical RomanticismofWutheringHeights. Mitchell. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 383 . 1974). quoted in Wilden. The State of the Language (Berkeleyand Los Angeles: Univ. withindiaFor linguisticstudies ofthe necessarilybilateralaspect ofinterpretation logue. 27.The Brontis: Life and Letters (New York: Haskell but also Catherine House. The ConfessionalImagination:A Reading ofWordsworth'sPrelude (Baltimore:The JohnsHopkins Univ. 8-9. Historyof AuricularConfessionand Indulgencesin theLatin Church. Erik Berggren. 39-41." Text 3 (1983): 277-97. n.The Psychologyof Confession.Social Victimor Demon?" Gypsy Scholar 2: 21-39. TherapeuticDiscourse (New York:Academic Press. J.167. all referencesto Lacan are to Wilden's edition." in The English Novel: Select Bibliographical Guides.as it informs narrativestructurein general and literaturein particular. see William Labov and David Fanshel. The most pertinentdiscussions of psychoanalyticrhetoric. 1974). Press.. and Nelly referto theireffusionsas "confessions"in variouspassages ofthe novel [39]. Studies in Sacred Theology77. McDermott and Henry Tylbor.Church and Confession:ConservativeTheologiansin Germany. Confessionand Communityin the Novel (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State Univ. esp. 1980). Macovski This content downloaded from 192. and Reverend Paul E. Emilio De Grazia. ed.include Leavy. 1980).D. FrederickErickson.: GeorgetownUniv.209..England. T. Michael S. 100. I am applyingLacan's model selectivelyhere. JudithWeissman. 25-50."Notes and Queries 24 (1977): 354-61. "The Ethical Dimension ofWutheringHeights. Press. of Chicago Press.RobertHurley (New York:Pantheon. Theodor Reik. 1980). See also Lacan. and Robin TolmachLakoff. 100. P. esp. For analyses of the psychologicalaspects of confession-in termsofthe two roles I discuss -see TerrenceDoody. WalterJ. 1978).trans."reprintedin Ecrits (Paris."in Languages and Linguistics: The Interdependenceof Theory. Press. ed.see Walter H. A. 1953). Press."Midwest Quarterly19 (1978): 176-95. Data. Emily Bronte's own religiousattitudestowardforgivenessand confessionare discussed in Clement King Shorter. 99-160. as well as the referencesto the Gothic listed in Patrick Diskin. 1981). The Necessityof Confessionfor the Sacramentof Penance. and R. 440-48. Conser."in Leonard Michaels and ChristopherRicks. 1982). 13 See Jacques Lacan. The Language of the Self. Several of these studies also suggestthatthe Gothic novel may have redefinedthe framenarrative form. Frank D. Deborah Tannen(Washington.

1982).Day Co. Meditations on the Hero: A Study of the Romantic Hero in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (New Haven and London: Yale Univ.15Lacan.Nelly. 1976).Denis Donoghue. 1968)." his discreteness."Emily Bronte In and Out of Her Time. of RichmondPress. A Festschrift for ProfessorMargueriteRoberts(Richmond: Univ. and E.he neverthelessdepicts them in termsof the spoken word. 134. "Emily Bront6:On the Latitude ofInterpretation. Emily Bronte: A Critical and Biographical Study (New York:MacMillan. 1969). "WutheringHeights as a VictorianNovel. "Language. and even ArnoldShapiro." Studies in the Novel 1 (1969): 284-95. 1965). J. The Female Imagination (New York:AlfredA. In WutheringHeights. D. Press." in Frieda Elaine Penninger. 1975). 1974). page 4 on the "Rime")."he writes.theyseek thatlinguisticinterpretation ("response")whichidentifiesthe self ("recognition"). forinstance. Hillis Miller. and Widdowson(note 3). 17 For studieswhich apply Coleridge's theoryand poetrydirectlyto the novel.and Heathcliff seek out listeners. 8 (New York:Barnes and Noble.includingthe instancesofHareton'sreading. Studies thatdiscuss the novel directlyin the contextof Romanticpoetryinclude JohnHewish.What these studies have not noted. Muriel Spark and Derek Stanford. For more theoreticaltreatmentsof Romanticismin relationto the novel see J. N. and J. 160. esp. 169. "A Note on Emily Bront6's Romanticismin WutheringHeights. 262. Reed. (Totowa. and Donoghue (above).209. Weissman (note 10). Still other approaches cite the Romanticqualities of the novel. In Lacan's terms. PatriciaMeyer Spacks.Emily Bronte:Her Life and Work (New York:J. 1968). The Historyof theEnglish Novel.. and preface.167. Loxterman." Genre 15 (1982): 243-264. 259.Nelly's censorship.is that such linguisticinteractionscan use the "response of the other"to establishthe self.. see.: Barnes and Noble. Alain Blayac.and Lockwood's deciphermentand naming process. 64-77. see.ed. 1966). My referencesto Coleridgeantheoryare fromKathleen Coburn. forinstance. WalterL. David Sonstroem(note 4).I would say thatthe interpretivelistenerrepresentsthislinguistic <'responseofthe other":when characterslike Catherine. 25. 113. Other research brieflynotes this Romanticcontextforthe novel. 260.Nancy Armstrong. 87-100."Reading a Story:Sequence. 1980). AlthoughforBakhtindialogues between self and "thou" oftentake place internally. Pace. A. Self-affirmation is literallythe articulationofthe selfto the other.Many studies. Hillis Miller. trans. 1-9 (esp. Ian Gregor. 93. Loxterman(above). Michael Holmquist (Minneapolis: Univ. but chooses not dwell on its particular implications:see Q. 09 Nov 2015 22:49:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and Recollection. The mostprovocativeapplicationsofgeneralRomanticideologyto the novel include Alan S. Fiction and Repetition. 1959). I would stressthatthose who see the novel as a response to Romanticismalso serve to locate theworkwithinthe generalrhetoricaland philosophicalcurrentsI am discussing(see..such linguisticrecognitionis a functionof what he calls the "Word"-that abstractsign of the analysand'sindividual"response.signifiesforsomeone" (76-77). for instance. Ian Gregor." Cahiers Victorienset Edouardiens 3 (1976): 1-6. ofcourse. Jacobs(note 3). though. 9. beforesigniin WutheringHeights fyingsomething. have cited examples of such linguisticinterpretationsin WutheringHeights. and Widdowson (note 3). esp. forinstance. 114." in Reading the VictorianNovel: Detail into Form.ed.10 on Mon. In Lacan's words. esp. Novelistson the Novel (London: Routledge Paperback. 1970). 11-29. Press. Knopf. 115. Leavis."is the responseofthe other"(63). "Introductionto CharlotteBronte'sJane Eyre" (Harmondsworth:Penguin."in Morton W Bloomfield. ed. 105-33. Baker. 384 WutheringHeightsand the Rhetoricof Interpretation This content downloaded from 192.The Disappearance of God (New York:Schocken. 99. 16 Poetics of Dostoevsky'sProse."What I seek in the Word. 287. and Miriam Allott. of Minnesota Press. All furthercitationsof Bakhtinare to this edition."WutheringHeights4s RomanticPoem and VictorianNovel. and will be cited by volume and page numberparenthetically in the text. The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (New York: Pantheon. but then go on to characterizeit as transitionalto (or indicativeof) the Victorianera. 1957-61). The Interpretationof Narrative: Theory and Practice (Cambridge:HarvardUniv. see.