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Thread: Sex in Wuthering Heights

  1. #1

    Sex in Wuthering Heights

    I was told by a teacher that there were two different sex scenes or sex references in Wuthering Heights before chapter 21. This teacher has yet to tell our class what they are yet, I was wondering if anyone already knew what she might be talking about? I have yet to find them myself and I have searched multiple forums and articles online and none of them mention anything about two "sex scenes" before chapter 21.

  2. #2
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    I seem to remember that there is one scene which is quite suggestive, for the time at least...

    At the time they're teens, Cathy and Heathcliff often hang around together and some time they end up in such an old medieval bed which is a room in itself kind of. They are caught lying there with the doors closed by Hindley who in turn expells Heathcliff from the house if I remember rightly.

    Though I can't see the really sexual nature of this, apart from in 19th century terms.

    Another maybe suggestive one in 19th century Victorian terms might be the one where Catherine is married to Linton and expecting while ill (a little mad, we could say). The night where little Catherine is born. That is quite powerful, but no sex per se.

    There are probably a few more, if seen like that. One of them with the coffin; I thought Heathcliff really goes to lie in it if I remember rightly, but otherwise, I don't know what you're teacher is referring to.

    Meh, just wait, I suppose for the verdict.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    There is a section at the end of chapter VIII in which Edgar Linton is persuaded back in the house by Catherine after an argument, which went, "I saw the quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy - had broken the outworks of youthful timidity, and enabled them to forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselves lovers."
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    I googled the phrase and came up with nothing. It's been years since I read it, so I have nothing to offer from personal remembrance.

    But I did find this really excellent essay, which might be helpful to your understanding of the text:


    http://wuthering-heights.tripod.com/id36.html
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
    "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Bonzai
    "Some people say I done alright for a girl." Melanie Safka

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Any minute now some little plonker is going to suggest that Heathcliff was gay.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

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    OP, did you try reading the book?

  7. #7
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NakimandEmustan View Post
    I was told by a teacher that there were two different sex scenes or sex references in Wuthering Heights before chapter 21. This teacher has yet to tell our class what they are yet, I was wondering if anyone already knew what she might be talking about? I have yet to find them myself and I have searched multiple forums and articles online and none of them mention anything about two "sex scenes" before chapter 21.
    This reminds me.
    December 21. Apparently it is a day of sex.
    The number 21 may help.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  8. #8
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    There is a section at the end of chapter VIII in which Edgar Linton is persuaded back in the house by Catherine after an argument, which went, "I saw the quarrel had merely effected a closer intimacy - had broken the outworks of youthful timidity, and enabled them to forsake the disguise of friendship, and confess themselves lovers."
    Intimacy is as close as it gets.
    I thought intimacy meant sex.
    ''The disguise of friendship'' sounds rather heavy like someone hidding or being auckward.
    Suggesting that one pretends to be friend is incredible and then suggesting we all jump into bed with our friends is a scary prospect and makes friendship a pointless leisure. Doom and gloom what an idea.
    And the word 'confess' sounds like someone is committing an act of disgrace or being in church in a confession booth.
    I personally do not confess to love. I am just am.
    This a rather gloomy text full of guilt and trepidation. The writer behind this is rather ill informed.
    And then there is 'the argument' the cliche that one can manage sex after being angry or ill disposed is beyond imagination.
    Thanks for posting k67 I hope you do not mind me commenting on it.
    Last edited by cacian; 10-17-2012 at 05:32 AM.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  9. #9
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    The meaning of the words 'intimacy' and 'confess' has shifted from what it originally was. Besides, you can still say 'I confess I don't know what you are talking about.' Which just means, 'I admit' or makes the idea that the other party is essentially unintelligible a bit politer. It's a little bit like 'I daresay'. People still say it to take the attention away from their attack. Particularly on BBC Parliament you can hear it quite often.

    The text is not gloomy or anything, it's just a 19th century way of saying that an argument provokes passion between two parties and that, if the parties are more inclined to each other than they have known until then, that they will feel closer because they have shown a side of themselves they do not usually show others. Certainly not in the 19th century.

    That's all.

    One does not indeed dive into bed with friends, but people certainly did ith brother and sisters. Without sex, mind. In fact children of both sexes usually slept in one bed all together until they got too old, at which point the girls went together and the boys. So to me it is perfectly natural, if a little inappropriate that Cathy and Heathcliffe are in that bed together. They are siblings and that's what they know siblings do. Without necessarily anything more to the situation apart from the lying in the bed. Hindley was obviously appalled.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    Registered User hannah_arendt's Avatar
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    The same situation occurs in "North and South" by E. Gaskell (Scene with Margaret`s glove).

    I think that at the very beginning, we have to think what was sexuality in Bronte`s times.

  11. #11
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    There aren't any sex scenes between Cathy and Heathcliff or even implied. True, there are scenes with sexual undertones but Heathcliff has a very physical desire for Cathy. Had they actually had sex, their relationship might have gone on longer or might not have as the tensions would have been relieved. However there is the sense that Heathcliff never managed to possess her in the sense that Edgar Linton has and so there is all this unresolved tension on top of their love for each other. It also makes sense of why Heathcliff would torture Catherine Linton as well; he would hardly be torturing her if there was a possibility that she was his daughter.

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    I just finished the book and noticed nothing sex related. But I can truly say that at least two couples definitely had sex during the timeline of the novel.

    Firstly, Edgar and Catherine. They had a daughter afterall and you need sex to have one. I think they had a steady sex life. Although Catherine is a person who'd have lots of bad hair days and headache nights, she wouldn't be an all time idle near a spectacle of handsomeness and kindness such as Edgar. I guess she was the one who held the consent mostly. If she doesn't want, nothing happens. If she's in the mood, it won't matter if Edgar wants it or not, she'll find a way.

    The second couple is Heathcliff and Isabella. The reason is the same, a son. But I have hard time imagining them in bed. Its definite they had sex at least once and I think it was a scene where Ana of 50 shades will say "Holy Cow" numerous times if she witnessed it. By a high chance, it happened before Isabella's love for Heathcliff faded away. Maybe it was THE day which made Isabella hate him so much and decided to escape. Was Heathcliff's not so big as Isabella imagined? Who knows? But I again guess, if Ellen saw her the day after, she surely could tell what they did that night by the bruises on her face.

  13. #13
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    I'm half way through.

    My reading is that Catherine and Heathcliff don't have sex. It would seem far too tame compared to the consuming and self destructive passion for each other they nurse.

    Isabella is besotted with Heathcliff and elopes with him, which means they consummate their marriage. So that's where sex comes in. And next time we see her, she regrets it and hates him. He says some very cruel things about her in front of Nelly, but she never specifies what it is he's done.

    I don't think we ought to be smug that we are so open about sex compared to the Victorians. What is hinted here is something that is equally covered over now. Domineering, authoritative and sadistic figures, particularly "manly" men, are very, very sexy. Vast amounts of gay porn are based that. But when you've experienced what it really means and find you've got to live with it for the rest of your life, it's a very different matter.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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