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Thread: Mortality rate in Wuthering Heights

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Mortality rate in Wuthering Heights

    If there's one thing I got from reading Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, it was the appalling mortality rate back then. I suppose the Brontės may have been more sickly than average, but the death rate of natural causes in those books must have been plausible at the time. iirc, the ages and causes of death were as follows:

    Name................Age......Cause of death
    Mrs Earnshaw......40-55....n/k
    Mr Earnshaw.......40-55....n/k
    Mrs Linton...........40-55....fever
    Mr Linton............40-55....fever
    Frances..............20........consumption
    Catherine............21........childbirth after she had weakened herself with cold, hunger and self-neglect
    Hindley...............30?.......died of injuries resulting from a fight, or murder
    Issabella.............36........not stated, probably consumption
    Linton Heathcliff..16/17....consumption
    Heathcliff...........38.........starvation and exposure

    I was puzzled by the fever that carried off Mr and Mrs Linton. Catherine caught a fever after she had stayed out all night in the rain after Heathcliff ran away. The Lintons insisted Catherine convalesce with them, but sadly caught her fever and died. What sort of fever could that be? It was obviously infectious, but Catherine only developed it after she'd stayed out all night in the bad weather.
    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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    It's interesting that the Lintons made Catherine stay with them. That happened in "Pride and Prejudice" too. Jane, Elizabeth's sister, gets wet and falls ill while she and Elizabeth are visiting Mr. Bingley and Jane is forced to stay there to convalesce. I cannot imagine anything more horrible than being sick away from home, but that never seems to bother them.

    As to the fever, it is so generally described that it makes it impossible to figure out what causes them to actually die. I wonder if it could be strep, which they may not have known about, and which is actually quite serious. It could also be influenza which still causes quite a few deaths each year, despite the flu vaccine.
    "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
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