Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: Ch. 1

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One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any introductory lobby or passage:d they call it here ‘the house’d pre-eminently.  It includes kitchen and parlour, generally; but I believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreatd altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguished a chatter of tongues, and a clatter of culinary utensils, deep within; and I observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullendersw on the walls.  One end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof.  The latter had never been under-drawn:w its entire anatomy lay bare to an inquiring eye, except where a frame of wood laden with oatcakes and clusters of legs of beef, mutton, and ham, concealed it.  Above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols:h and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters disposed along its ledge.  The floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade.  In an arch under the dresser reposed a huge, liver-coloured bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses.

The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary as belonging to a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn countenance, and stalwart limbs set out to advantage in knee-breeches and gaiters.  Such an individual seated in his arm-chair, his mug of ale frothing on the round table before him, is to be seen in any circuit of five or six miles among these hills, if you go at the right time after dinner.  But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living.  He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentlemand: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose.  Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort: I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feelingd—to manifestations of mutual kindliness.  He’ll love and hate equally under cover, and esteem it a species of impertinence to be loved or hated again.  No, I’m running on too fast: I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him.  Mr. Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar reasons for keeping his hand out of the way when he meets a would-be acquaintance, to those which actuate me.  Let me hope my constitution is almost peculiar: my dear mother used to say I should never have a comfortable home; and only last summer I proved myself perfectly unworthy of one.

While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown into the company of a most fascinating creature: a real goddess in my eyes, as long as she took no notice of me.  I ‘never told my love’d vocally; still, if looks have language, the merest idiot might have guessed I was over head and ears: she understood me at last, and looked a return—the sweetest of all imaginable looks.  And what did I do?  I confess it with shame—shrunk icily into myself, like a snail; at every glance retired colder and farther; till finally the poor innocent was led to doubt her own senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her supposed mistake, persuaded her mamma to decamp.  By this curious turn of disposition I have gained the reputation of deliberate heartlessness; how undeserved, I alone can appreciate.

I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch.  My caressd provoked a long, guttural gnarl.

X [d] without any introductory lobby or passage:

Writing & Reading

Wuthering Heights is not what Lockwood is accustomed to and is beyond his range of comprehension. And, puzzled by what he deems the locals' strange behavior, his confusion is translated into a defensive condescension.

X [d] ‘the house’


The reader, like Lockwood, will have trouble visualizing the house's layout.  We learn that the house is large, sprawling, with a warren of rooms. Like the exterior the interior has a guarded, hostile quality—fierce dogs, "villainous guns," and a great deal of food, as if prepared for a siege. …

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X [d] forced to retreat

Writing & Reading

The verbs and verbals in the paragraph are menacing so that even common objects seem alive with hostility: "forced to retreat" of a kitchen; "towering" of tankards and dishes; "its entire anatomy laid bare" of  a "vast oak dresser"; "lurking" of a chair, and "haunted" of the dogs. 

X [w] cullenders


X [w] under-drawn:

Apparently a Yorkshire vernacular, for the OED offers no definition. The context suggests the dresser was moved in but never built in.

X [h] horse-pistols:


"a large pistol carried at the pommel of the saddle when on horseback" (OED).

X [d] dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and ma…

Writing & Reading

Heathcliff's gipsy-like complexion is itself menacing. From Jane Austen to George Eliot the public regarded gipsies as dangerous. Moreover, Heathcliff's appearance distinguishes him from the typically ruddy-cheeked, fair-skinned, light-haired Briton of Anglo-Saxon descent.  

X [d] his reserve springs from an aversion to showy…

Writing & Reading

Lockwood cannot be more wrong. "[R]eserve" is a condition that describes a person in, say, an Austen novel (Darcy in Pride and Prejudice) and might originate in diffidence (lack of confidence) or from a coolness of temperament. Heathcliff is neither diffident nor cool, and Lockwood will realize in time that "I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him." 

X [d] ‘never told my love’

Writing & Reading

The reference is unclear. Some have referred to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Act 2, scene 4, but though something like the sentiment may be present, the quotation is not. Lockwood may be referring to a ballad.

X [d] My caress

Writing & Reading

Given his description of the dog, Lockwood's thinking that he should pet it reveals his incapacity to read the obvious signs at the Heights. His incapacity may also warn us to be careful in interpreting the novel's characters and events through him. 

He's entered an entirely foreign terrain (imagine a Manhattanite visiting Appalachia in 1950), though he comically persists for some time in believing that it's merely an uncouth suburb of what he's accustomed to.