In her eagerness she rose, and supported herself on the arm of the chair. At that earnest appeal, he turned to her, looking absolutely desperate. His eyes wide, and wet, at last, flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively. An instant they held asunder; and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive.
In her eagerness, she rose and supported herself on the arm of the chair. *SYM "eagerness": passion as physical/ physiological phenomenon. **ACT 1 "she rose": 1. seeing her lover, she rises from her deathbed. A moment of rupture and resurrection. ***Catherine moves from one state to its opposite: from the stasis of legal/legitimate marriage as death-in-life to a moment of transgressive/ transcendent union with Heathcliff as resurrection. Note that earlier in this chapter Nelly Dean calls her Mrs. Linton, the name which she is legally entitled to and which her servants are supposed to call her. This legal name, however, effaces Catherine's identity. When, as Mrs. Linton, she is shown Heathcliff's letter, she cannot comprehend it until he is physically present. Neither can she read the books Edgar leaves for her because a living corpse cannot read, whether the words be dead letters or a New/Old Testament. SYM: thesis/ antithesis: death-in-life/ resurrection; legal marriage/ transcendent union. ****ACT 1 "she rose": 2. she pauses to support herself. *****SEM "chair": embodiment of the property/ propriety she has acquired as Mrs. Linton/ mistress of Thrushcross Grange; a momentary barrier between herself and her illegitimate lover; a physical support. ******REF. Code of romance: the lovers to reunite.
At that earnest appeal, he turned to her, looking absolutely desparate." *REF. Code of romance: the look(s) of love. ACT 2: "he turned to her": 1. he faces her. **Here, we can juxtapose Isabella's construction of Heathcliff as lover with Nelly's representation of him as Catherine's lover. Keep in mind that she is narrating this and that, prior to telling this tale, she has been an inveterate reader of the books in Thrushcross Grange's library. From the beginning of the narrative, her audience, Lockwood, has demonstrated his relieance on cultural constructions/ cliches to structure his world view (i.e. Heathcliff as his fellow; Catherine II as a beneficient fairy). REF. Code of romance: desperate lover. ***SYM thesis/ antithesis: pitiless, wolfish man/ desperate lover. Synthesis: Heathcliff at this moment of union.
His eyes wide and wet, at last, flashed fiercely on her; his breast heaved convulsively. *HER Enigma 1: Is this love? This enigma will be picked up again in later lexia, most immediately as, once Catherine faints, Heathcliff gnashes his teeth and physically prevents Nelly from assisting her. **ACT 2: "he turned to her": 2. he reacts emotionally/ profoundly to her presence. His physical actions body forth his emotions. However, his later physical actions (gnashing teeth, foaming) will jar with the image of the lover as culturally constructed. ***REF. Code of romance: physical/ emotional union. ****REF. Gnomic code: eyes: windows to the soul; heart: seat of emotion.
An instant they held asunder; and then how they met I hardly saw, but Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive. *REF: "an instant." **HER. Enigma 2: How did they meet? Equivocation: Nelly states she "hardly saw" but nevertheless she narrates.. ***ACT 1 "she rose": 3. she springs into his arms--spring as resurrection from death-in-life. ****ACT 2 "he turned to here": 3. he catches her. *****ACT 3 "they were locked in an embrace." ******SEM "locked in an embrace": physical passion as entrapment, inevitable imprisonment; c.f. holy wedlock, the locked casement, Catherine locked out for 20 years; Lockwood. *******SEM "my mistress": the presence of servant as witness; Nelly distances herself from Catherine, displacing herself into the servant's role. As mistress of Thrushcross Grange and as an invalid, Catherine/ Mrs. Linton is attended by a servant. Ironically, this servant is her "foster" sister. ********REF: Code of romance: liebestod, erotic union as little death (John Donne, Romeo and Juliet, etc.).
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