Tess of the d’Urbervilles

 

Note: (The contents of this post is to be traversed only by those that have read the book, lest something of the plot may be given away)

I have just finished Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and so all you who have read it will know what I must be suffering.

The tragedy of the ending is made worse because there is no heaven to believe in. The book was written around the time when Darwin’s theory of Evolution had begun to make people pry deeper into the idea of God, and Thomas Hardy did this by writing Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and the conclusion seems to be in favor of Darwin. The whole story of the book is the tragic life of the heroine, Teresa Durbeyfield, and suggests strongly that God does not really watch lovingly over the lives of all human beings – for Tess is driven by the unfairness of life to commit the crimes most terrible to the Victorian public – she was twice lured into sexual relations with one she was not married to, and is even, in the end (I hope those who have not read the book are following my a advice not to read this post) a murderess. Yet, she is still, after all this, ‘a pure woman’. Were providence a real thing, these misfortunes could not have happened – Christianity suggests that be your soul pure, life will favor you and you will never have to do wrong, and Hardy suggests this idea is incorrect. In other great novels of the Victorian age providence looks after the heroines. In Jane Eyre, for instance, everything is fair and even – Mr Rochester pays for his byronic sins by being blinded, and Jane finds her way to happiness be being always pure and true, always preserving her self-respect, and above all, believing in that great power which ought to lift all worthy heroines out of difficulty. But Tess has no such good fortune – pureness does her no good – there is no God to punish her for her wrong and reward her for her wrights. One paragraph from the book describes this point – when Alec d’Urberville finds the vulnerable Tess asleep under the trees:

Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around. Above them rose the primeval yews and oaks of The Chase, in which there poised gentle roosting birds in their last nap; and about them stole the hopping rabbits and hares. But, might some say, where was Tess’s guardian angel? Where was the providence of her simple faith? Perhaps, like that other god of whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awaked.

Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man, many thousand years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our sense of order. One may, indeed, admit the possibility of a retribution lurking in the present catastrophe. Doubtless some of Tess d’Urberville’s mailed ancestors rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of their time. But though to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children may be a morality good enough for divinities, it is scorned by average human nature; and it therefore does not mend the matter.

The end of the paragraph brings up the idea that Tess might be being punished by having the same done to her that her ancestors had done before her to others, but, ‘it does not mend the matter’, for it is unfair for her to be punished for her ancestors’ sins. This theme is touched on again later in the book, showing at the same time the cruelty of established Christianity, when the church will not give a Christian burial to the little baby that Tess gave birth to illegitimately by d’Urberville. Why should the baby suffer for its mother’s, sins, (if sins they were)?

Ashamed to live any more at home, where all know what befell her, Tess goes to work at Tabothay’s Dairy, where she falls passionately and tragically in love with Mr. Angel Clare, a middle-class gentleman who has decided to be a farmer, instead of taking orders as his father and brothers have done (as is later revealed this is because he once had an affair and does not think it right to preach against what he had done himself). He falls in love with her, and asks her to marry him. She refuses at first, having decided never to marry, for she thinks herself in a certain way married to Alec d’Urberville, the destroyer of her maidenhood. She relents at last, however, and they become engaged to be married, but Tess is troubled in her conscience for she feels she ought to tell him about her affair with Alec d’Urberville. She writes him a letter about it and tries to post it under his door, for she has not the courage to tell him in person, but it slips under the rug.

Here is an example of the sort of frustrating sadness that occurs so often in Thomas Hardy – for later, after they are married she tells him about it, having discovered he did not receive her letter, and because, even after deciding to leave the respectable middle class of his birth, he is still without the courage to defy common custom for the sake of right, he decides it is improper for them to live together, and he goes to make his fortune as a farmer in Brazil, leaving Tess behind, enveloped in agonized misery. But while about to leave for Brazil, he says to himself, ‘Had you only told me sooner, Tess, I should have forgiven you!’ So damn and curse the stupid carpet ten million times!

After making the point about how frustrating the incident of the carpet and letter is, I will now go over the previously talked about part of the book in a little more detail.

I believe it is not completely because of a false sense of delicacy that Clare left Tess – it is also because he had formed a picture of her as a blooming, unsoiled country maiden – a sort of untried, innocent little doll or turtle-dove for him to teach and love, as a romantic book might put it ‘the picture of innocence’. He wished her to be pure as a child, to never have had any experience of the wicked world around her. Such complete innocence is impossible for any human-being – we all have our faults and blemishes, we have all gone through some experience or other of the world, and Tess was, no doubt, as near to what he wanted as he would ever have found on this earth. He wanted her as the ‘beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer’ that she had been before she was ‘soiled’ by d’Urberville. Yet even then, she had been only ‘practically blank as snow’. To be completely blank is impossible, and Clare threw away from him the nearest thing to his dream that he would ever find.

Also, she had told him about something that her family had found out – it was speculated that they were of the ancient family of the d’Urbervilles (hence the name, Tess of the d’Urbervilles). It was because of this she had met Alec d’Urberville. She had been sent by her family to tell him and his old mother that she was related to them, but it turned out he was not really of the same ancient d’Urberville family. Anyhow, Clare got an idea that the d’Urbervilles had committed many crimes of the same sort as Tess, and that her being from that ancient family was also a blight on her innocence.

Clare had told Tess she could get money from his father, but she was to proud to do so, and she became very poor and had to work at Flintcombe Ash. But no more of the plot, for I have already asked those who do not already know it not to read this. A few more thoughts on the later parts of the book, and I will close this entry.

It is an odd thing that after murdering Alec, she seemed to see nothing at all wrong with it. She seemed almost to have been driven mad with sorrow.

The most traumatizing part of the book for me, sadder even than when she dies, is when Clare comes home to her and finds her with Alec d’Urberville, and she stands at the door and talks to him so coolly. It might be, perhaps that she is too sad to be sad – she had stopped even existing in her own head, her existence was so terrible. This may explain another interesting thing, which is that the book leaves Tess’s point of view as she is talking with d’Urberville in the church, and never really ever returns to it. It is lucky – it would be too dreadful indeed if you were looking at the events of the end with Tess’s eyes. It is interesting though, and seems to again suggest the idea that she is not even thinking to herself anymore – that it would be too bad for her to be herself, just as it would be too bad for the reader to be her.

And now, my last thought. The book seems to explore the strange pathos of life – something that is quite beyond science – a mystery far greater than the scientific mysteries of how the world began, and other such things. The book confronts and diminishes one great mystery – that of religion – and introduces another – that of life.

 

Poetry and Photographs

Today I’m posting a poem I’ve written about this time of year, with some photos of the garden to go with it. Here it is:

The air is crisp and frosty, with sharp edge,

The sunlight shines full golden on the ground,

It melts the frost, and bares a greener hue.

The atmosphere is bright and brilliant blue;

Nestling among the grass, a million water drops,

Like little diamonds glisten, shine, and flash.

And not one snowy cloud does blot the sun,

By bite of cold the day is not undone.

 

 Spring comes, she melts a path though ice and sleet,

Upon the ground she scatters flowers and light,

Though through the trees the harsh cold wind does blow,  

Still, up from stark bare ground, the snowdrops grow

So pure, so fair, with silver needle leaves.

Then straight stand daffodils, with yellow dresses bright,

And crocus-cups, filled up with slanting sunlight show,

And in the breeze they wave, they dance; they blow.

Now  for the photos:

IMG_3690

IMG_7925

IMG_7952

‘And crocus cups, filled up with slanting sunlight show’

IMG_7885Still, up from stark bare ground, the snowdrops grow

So pure, so fair, with silver needle leaves.

IMG_3683

IMG_7881

IMG_7895

‘Then straight stand daffodils, with yellow dresses bright’

 

 

Nestling among the grass, a million water drops,

Like little diamonds glisten, shine, and flash.

IMG_7948

IMG_7889

‘Upon the ground she scatters flowers and light’

IMG_7932

These dew drops are not on grass, so are not actually related to the poem, but they are so pretty I decided to put them in anyway

 

 

 

Aphrodite

IMG_3660This is a fairly random post about the greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. She is generally depicted with golden hair, blue eyes and red lips, and her symbol is a dove and a heart. I once wrote a description of her in one of my stories – “beautiful Aphrodite, with her golden locks, blood red lips, sea blue eyes, and white dove”. Some more things I have written about her are below.

I did a thing like this about each god and goddess at the beginning of a book of greek myths I wrote:

Aphrodite 

Goddess of: Love and beauty

Married to: Hephaestus

 Daughter of: Born from the blood of Coronus  falling in the waves, or in other versions, simply the sea.

Represented with: A dove, a heart, a rose

Appearance: very beautiful, long golden hair, pink cheeks, pale skin, and red lips.

Character: Gentle, but very jealous, and sometimes angry

 I also wrote a piece of poetry about her birth; it’s not really proper poetry because though it does rhyme and sound pretty it doesn’t pay hardly any attention to syllables. I’m not really any Tennyson!

‘When morning sun rise up above the waves,

And paint the white sea-froth pink and red-gold,

And sea-nymphs fair-of-face  sing in their caves,

Soft gentle voices rising, luring mermen bold,

Gentle blue waves unto her pearly limbs themselved did mould.

 

Round her soft white milk throat a necklace hung

Of reddest coral beaded with clear water drops

Like jewels, sparkling, shining, glistening among

The coral, red and smooth. How sweetly then she sung!

 

Her hair like a golden mantle round her floated;

And soft lapping waves gentled her white feet,

That with the frothy white sea foam blended,

And she in a shining white shell made her seat

While on the shore the maidens waited, her to greet

 

Sea-blue and rose-pink silk was in their hands,

So fine a colour, fine a silk, so intricately patterned,

Flowers, seashells, pearls embroidered, golden bands,

Sweeping, trailing on the ground in soft golden sands”

 

And now,  this is a story I wrote about her birth:

 

Who saw Aphrodite’s birth? The rocks did, and roaring tide. Who saw the golden-haired goddess rise from the waves? I did. The rocks did. The sea did. And Botticelli did, for if he had did not how could he have painted such an accurate picture? Well, whether he did or not, whether the tide saw it or not, whether the rocks saw it or not, I did. I did, and I am going to tell you about what I saw.

It was a dark, stormy night, with sea as black as the sky above, and I, Artemis, virgin goddess of the moon and hunting, was driving my silver chariot across the dark sky; for it is my duty to give the poor mortals a beam of shimmering light on a dark night as this was.

All night I drove the chariot, and those who saw me said my dark hair was lost, camouflaged in the dark of the night, my white, silvery skin shimmered in the light of my own moon, and my beautiful, strange, wild dark eyes filled with the terrors of the forest glimmered with moon light.

It was true too, especially the part about my eyes. They were my pride and joy, and before Aphrodite came along, I was the most beautiful of all the gods.

Yes, I was there all night, driving my chariot back and forth, to light the way of a poor old couple I saw on earth. But it was when I was driving it back to Olympus, to make way for the sun god to rule the sky, that I saw her. The waters had calmed now, but they were still the colour of the sky, though now both sky and water had changed to a beautiful shimmering pale blue. White foam was dotted in the water, and the waves rolled on the sand, whispering, whispering, whispering; whispering words, and if only mortals would have listened, they could have learnt much from the waves.

It was then that it happened. A drop of reddest blood from Cronus, Zeus’s murdered father fell and polluted the water, turning it an ugly purplish red. But it soon cleared again, and was back to normal – except the one spot where the blood had fallen. That, though it was a pretty colour again, had started to fizz and buzz and cough up foam, and all of a sudden the waters parted, and there rose out of the water a naked lady. A lady so divine that the gods turned to gaze at her, and love her. Her skin was as pale as the foam of the sea she had come out of, her lips as red as the drop of blood that had caused her birth, and her hair was simmering and golden, and the very end of it was blue, so that you could not tell which was her hair and which was the water, so combined were the two. Then she stepped into a beautiful pinkish shell, and twelve beautiful dark-haired maidens dressed her in a pale pink robe with a gold pattern of waves around the edges. And Hera, wife of Zeus saw her, and brought her up to mount Olympus, saying that as she was as beautiful as a goddess, and was born from Cronus’s blood, she could share Mount Olympus with them.

Valentine’s Day Cards

I am having a break in the story of Ponden Hall to make a several days late Valentine’s Day post. Happy Valentine’s Day! This post is about our Valentine’s Day, and especially the cards we made.

We often make each other cards on Valentine’s day instead of buying them from cards; my Mum and me mostly make them, but my brother Tass does too sometimes.

This Valentine’s Day Mum and Dad both bought each other and me and Tass lots of chocolate, and Dad bought a huge bunch of flowers. Mum decorated all the chocolate boxes with hearts cut out of card and glittery paper, and we all made each other cards. I made one for Tassy with a heart inside a doily, and inside the heart I stuck a little cat-shaped wooden button (he is obsessed with cats). For Dad I made the same, but the heart was inside a golden netlike piece of cloth, and inside it was a dog instead of a cat, because we pretend he is a dog. I made Mum a card with a heart on it cut out of red card, and inside the heart another smaller one cut out of a flowery cloth, and I also made little corners for it out of the red card and the flowery cloth. I also had little hedgehog shaped wooden buttons like the cat ones, and I used them like stamps, dipping them in pink ink and pressing them down on the card. I made it look like they were kissing. (It was hedgehogs because that’s Mum’s animal). Mum made a card to us all with puffy hearts in it. Me and Mum made one together for my grandmother, and I drew a picture of a tulip for it. Mum arranged the cards and boxes of chocolate around the flowers for a surprise. Below are some photos of the cards.

IMG_8168

My card to Mum

IMG_8169

Tass’s card to me

IMG_8171

IMG_8171

Detail of Mum’s card (Dad’s heart)

IMG_8173

Detail of my heart

IMG_8170

Tass’s card to Mum

IMG_8174

Another detail (Tass’s heart)

IMG_8175Mum’s card to all off us (the heart larger or smaller according to the size of the people they are to; the large heart is Dad, which is why it has a dog over it, the smaller one Tass, which is why there is a cat over it, and the tiny one with the face over it is our baby. The medium size heart is mine, and it has a lily of the valley and roses over it because Mum calls me ‘Lily-Rose’).

IMG_8181

Tass’s card to Dad

IMG_8178

The flowers and all the cards together

 

I though I might as well include some valentine’s cards from a few years back, while I am on that subject.

Here they are; some ones that I made for Mum

 

Buttons

Here are my buttons! If anybody wants to swap buttons with me, just say so in comments and I’ll figure out how to do it for them!

copperbeechschool button

new blog button - books

blogbutton3.jpg

 

IMG_7925.jpg

Other people’s buttons


Button 1 A Barefoot Gal

 

MistyButton

Botton 2 Creative World of Writing

 

 

buttonlogo

Button 3 From The Tip of Grace’s Pen

 

rsz_1screen_shot_2016-02-25_at_112514_am.png

blog-button-3

Button 4 Olivia’s Sylvania stuff

ccb1.png

Part Five of Bronte Country

The presents were opened; twilight had fallen, and darkness was veiling the green hills and scraggy moors. The hour of the box-bed drew near; I had resolved to climb inside as soon as night fell. Though too afraid to sleep in it, I would certainly spend my evening inside it. Standing before the bed I shut my eyes and ‘slid back the paneled sides, got in with my light, pulled them together again’. They creaked terribly as I drew them back; the smell inside was a pleasant one of fresh pinewood – I pretended it was musty, and in my mind’s eye hung cobwebs in the corners. Shaking with fear and yet half laughing, a smile of nervous excitement frozen upon my lips, I leaned across the bed to examine the dreaded window. It was not exactly as described in the book; indeed, in Wuthering Heights the window bore more resemblance to the one outside the bed, already described, for in the book it opened, and was large enough so that ‘the ledge of a window, which it enclosed, served as a table.’. The local legend said however that this was the window, and for good reason, for it looked in many ways spookier than the other. It was very small and square, and cut strait out of the stone, and it did not open. It was placed back substantially from the wall, embedded deep in the wall, with a small slanting window ledge. But alas, carved upon it were no “Catherine”s. Outside the cold dark night pressed against the pane, and far off lights glimmered through the darkness. Condensation beaded the window, and a couple of drops were trickling down onto the window ledge. The stone below was rough, and when the drops reached the bottom they stuck between the bumps in the stone like little jewels. On the window ledge stood a huge old bible, half crumbled apart. Eagerly I turned over the huge leaves, half hoping – or should I say dreading – to find something written in the margins, though I knew it to be impossible. Disappointed in my search, I pulled the book off the ledge (carefully of course) and placed on the windowsill my wonderful writing desk already described in the last part. I folded it out, and taking out some paper and my pens and ink, I began to write.

Many times I was interrupted in my writing by the sight of a strange shadow reaching toward the window; twice on seeing it I nearly screamed, and had to hurry across the bed and, panting, throw open the door and look into the bright, reassuring room, wherein the adults were chatting. I tried to use the new blotter, but ended up splotching ink over all the paper. But if after I had finished it looked more like a mess of ink, I had certainly had fun writing it.

Box bed photos

Part Four of Bronte Country, In which Presents are opened.

 

In all the excitement, I had nearly forgotten about birthday presents. I had been given the clothes for the journey, but I generally get more presents than that. However, after the hubbub of arriving had subsided, Mum and Dad went down to the car to fetch the presents which we had carried with us from our house. I was more than a little amazed when they staggered through the doorway bearing a huge old chest of wood bound together with strips of rusty metal; a perfect Wuthering Heights chest – outdoing even the chest in which Catherine finds the folded napkins (which she though to be some ancient treasure) in Northanger Abbey. There was a large rusty keyhole, and a huge key, and they all stood round as I put the key to the lock and slowly, slowly, as though it was Pandora’s Box I lifted the lid. (Though it was not dread as with Pandora’s Box that made me open it slowly, but delight – I wanted to make that wonderful moment last as long as possible.) The lid was opened; but whatever was in it was covered with a thin layer of tissue paper. Lifting the tissue paper, I saw that each thing was wrapped round with the same material. The first thing I picked up was large, covering nearly half the opening of the chest, and the corner of the picture frame was showing. I lifted it up, and the tissue paper, falling away as I did so, revealed a black and white sketch, depicting a half ruined house, half way between Ponden Hall and a cottage, with a stone wall in front of it. In the distance was a far rolling view of fields and moors. The whole thing seemed slightly distorted, as though it was the reflection in a stream, and captured strangely the feeling of the moors. The picture was stirring to look at, and the very paper and ink seemed to cry out ‘Wuthering Heights!’ Thanking all in the room for the gift, with a bursting heart I drew out the next present. It was a real Victorian cap of lace and rose silk, to be worn either in the house or under a bonnet. Next was a pair of dainty white kid gloves, such as worn by all Victorian ladies, even in summer. But what small hands and what long fingers Victorian ladies must have had! I am only ten years old, and my hand are small for my age, and yet they would barely fit on, and when they did the fingers where twice as long as my own. I lifted out then a black fur ‘tippet’ a sort of neck-scarf worn by ladies in Victorian times (look it up on Google images). There came then a fur muff, with ribbon attached so I could hang it round my neck, and a black woolen cape with fur round the hood and pretty clasp, that would look wonderful billowing out behind me when we went for a walk on the Bronte moors (and Mum had promised we would). As well as these two things I received a lovely lacey cloth, to put around the shoulders of my recency dress. But even better was to come. After opening a few more, I pulled out a very large present, the larges yet except perhaps the picture, and on pulling off the paper I found a large round pink box, with a pink string for a handle. Lifting the lid I found more tissue paper inside. I lifted it off, and from underneath took out a brown felt bonnet, lined with pale pink silk, and with a pink ribbon tied around it. It fitted exactly. I was in raptures already; but I soon found that there was a second layer of tissue paper beneath the bonnet, with something else under it. It was another one; more of a poke bonnet this time, made of cotton with pink roses on it. It was bendy, and could be made into different styles of bonnet if you fiddled around with it. Both of these my loving Mum had made me. I remember the day when she made one of them (the brown felt one); I had actually already suspected it was a bonnet, but then Dad came in, looked at it very secretly, came out of the room and then said loudly ‘Nice bonnet!’ So that present was not quite a surprise, but I had never guessed it would be as wonderful as it was.

Before this entry ends, I will relate a couple more presents. For a brake from Victorian things (though who would ever need one? Victorian things are so lovely! That is, until you put them on, when they are very uncomfortable) I will talk about some of the more ordinary presents. Among other things, there were two lovely dresses my aunt gave me with roses on them, one blue and purple and one black and white, with shiny bits round the neck. There was also some little hair clips my aunt gave me, and a lovely old book about calligraphy (I have been trying to learn calligraphy, having always been obsessed with illuminated manuscripts) with lots of illustrations, that my Dad got me. I don’t know about you, but I think we can go back to Victorian things now, given it’s not the putting them on part that I’m writing about. So I’ll tell you about some gorgeous Victorian dresses I opened. There were three of them. The first had pink and red flowers on it, two stripes of red down the bodice, and a red bow. The second was an evening dress, a little shorter than the others, with off-the-shoulder sleeves, and a pattern of gold flowers on red. The third, my favourite, was peachy pink, and made of material like crepe silk, with a collar of beautiful lace, and a sash with a bow. Now there is only the last present left to be related, the most – what should I say? – the most ‘Golly!’ of them all. It was a crinoline, that huge stiff hoop petticoat that makes Victorian skirts poof out so far.

But wait, that is not the last – there is one present, the best present off all, that I have not yet told about. One of the best moments of my life must have been the moment when I drew out that wonderful present. It was a folding writing desk, made of dark shiny wood, inlaid with mother of pearl; and inside it was lined with yellow velvet, and a pattern in gold was etched round the edge. There was a special place for the ink and for the pen, and inclosed inside was a shiny wooden blotter, with flowers painted on it; some sheets of calligraphy paper in their own special compartment, and a beautiful little brooch in a jewel box. There was also a dip pen and a quill. The place where you put the ink unfolded to reveal secret little doors, wherein to hide private letters.

All the best presents have now been written about, and for now I leave you, until next-time, when I will be writing about my first look into Catherine Eearnshaw’s box bed.

 

 

In both pictures I am wearing the peach coloured dress, the brown felt bonnet, and the lace and pink silk cap, which peeps out from beneath my bonnet. If you click on picture 2 to make it bigger, and look closely, you will notice my expression is a bit stormy, just like Catherine Earshaw. It actually just happened to look like that!

 

Part Three of Bronte Country

We drove on through the stirring countryside, now up through the moors, now plunging down again into the green hills. A light rain was falling, and a wintery haze, broken sometimes by the slanting sunlight that burst occasionally through the clouds above, seemed to hang about. As we neared our destination, a large reservoir came into view, reflecting the grey of the stern sky exactly, except that it added a feel of glossy silver. The rain pattered upon the glassy surface of the water, creating tiny splashes. And then Ponden Hall itself came into view; a long, sturdy grey building, with a slanted roof, and just below the roof a long line of windows clustered together on each side of the doorway, made of lots of tiny little pains. Directly above the doorway was a little arch-shaped crevice, with writing carved in it. I tried to read it as we drove up, and did not, alas, catch the words, ‘Hereton Earnshaw’. The doorway itself was classical in style, made of the same stone as the building, with a white door in it.

We stood on the step and rung the bell; we were not greeted either by a dark, glowering Heathcliff, or by a cascade of snarling dogs throwing us to the ground (these circumstances I regretted at the time, but found afterward were rather more of a relief) but instead by the very friendly owners of Ponden Hall who hurried us into the main room and gave us lots of cake and tea, which we were badly wanting after the cold and tiring walk back up to the car from Wycoller Valley, which had been particularly difficult for me as I was continually tripping over my long muddied skirts.

Being well lit, comfortable and not especially large, the room we were now in bore at first sight very little resemblance to the room in which the laughable Mr Lockwood is attached by dogs (it was this room that the “house” at Wuthering Heights, where the dog encounter occurs, must have been based on). But on looking more closely I noticed several things that bore, in fact, a striking resemblance to the room described in the book. One of the things I noticed was that the floor was paved with large slabs of stone, giving very much the feeling of Wuthering Heights, and actually described in the book (though in the book they are white; in reality grey). Indeed, take away the warmth and comfort of the room and place in it some rather more old-fashioned furniture, it was indeed very much as described in the book; excepting one thing, which was that it is rather smaller than I image the room in Wuthering Heights to be. We were told however by the owners of Ponden Hall (Steve and Julie) that the room used to be much bigger, and the Great Hall of the house. It was made smaller before Emily’s time, but still, she might have know that it used to be a Great Hall and transported the house back in time a little for her story.

After finishing our examination of the room and our cake and tea, we were shown upstairs into our rooms. The first room we were shown was comfortable-looking, but nevertheless it bore distinguished marks of Wuthering Heights about it. Among other things was the amazing ceiling. It was high and slanting, and covered with wooden planking as though it were the floor. Across the planking all the way up were a row of incredibly large, long beams, and altogether made an incredible sight when gazed up at from below. There were three beds; two singles and a double, and the double, the one that I was to share with my mother, was a four poster. It was not, however, one of those romantic sorts of four posters of which I generally dreamed; it was not a bed similar to that described by Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey, ‘and the bed, of dark green stuff or purple velvet, presenting even a funereal appearance’ No. It was a very comfortable bed with white sheets and pillows, and the hangings were of gauzy transparent stuff. By the bed stood an old rocking horse, with two little seats attached to it that rocked also. My brother Tassy pleaded to be allowed on, but Mum said we had to see the other room first. This other room that was mentioned was the one my aunt and grandmother (who were also come with us to Ponden) were to sleep in, and on seeing it I would certainly have had a shock, had I not already had suspicions of what the second bed was to be.

We passed out of the room, and from there through two doors. A bookcase was attached to the wall in the space of hall between the two. We then went on through a carpeted corridor, the walls of which were hung with pictures; we then passed the stairs we had come up, and continued down a new section of the corridor we had not yet passed through. The corridor ended – in front of us stood a low doorway of shiny dark oak, in shape more in the gothic style than roman (though it was not quite gothic, for though it had a pointed top, it did not curve round gracefully toward the point; it was like two strait planks on either side, and then two more on top of them leaning toward each other, forming above something like that triangle shaped thing that stands on Greek temples). We opened the door; as it creaked open, I got for the first time in the Hall a real feeling of Wuthering Heights. The room stood before us in all its majesty – and in it – I have already said that I suspected, but yet my heart jumped at the sight of it. But I will not suffer the readers of this to discover what that surprise so startling to me is until I have described the less prominent details of the room.

The walls were made of stone with a very Wuthering Heights aspect, of a pale warm colouring; the was floor polished wood with a glazing of black over it, and the ceiling was like that in the other room, only a little less spectacular, for the beams were smaller, the ceiling was lower and there was no planking. However, this ceiling had the advantage of some lower beams going from one side of the room to the other. There was a large fireplace, and in front of it a wooden chest. On either side of the chest was a chair; on one side an arm-chair and on the other a rocking chair, and facing it was a sofa, in the same pattern and with the same throw as the armchair. On the right-hand wall was a window with a window-frame of heavy stone, divided into three panes, the middle pane of which opened up. In front of the window was a little table on which lay some vases, jugs and bowls of blue pottery, and a old edition of Wuthering Heights. Now the minor details of the room have been described, we may describe the other thing, that shocking thing, the crowning of the room. We will take to describe it a paragraph out of Wuthering Heights.

“I fastened my door and glanced round for the bed. The whole furniture consisted of a chair, a clothes-press, and a large oak case, with squares cut out near the top resembling coach windows. Having approached this structure, I looked inside, and perceived it to be a singular sort of old- fashioned couch, very conveniently designed to obviate the necessity for every member of the family having a room to himself. In fact, it formed a little closet, and the ledge of a window, which it enclosed, served as a table. I slid back the panelled sides, got in with my light, pulled them together again, and felt secure against the vigilance of Heathcliff, and every one else.”

It was this ‘large oak case, with cut squares near the top resembling coach windows’ that now faced us. Sliding panel doors, little windows at the top, all was complete. Only the markings and shine of wear was wanting; this was no ancient box bed, but one placed in the room for Wuthering Heights tourists. But as this circumstance was not what I would have wished, I merely passed over it in imagination, added in my head the tatter and the wear, and that is what I mean the readers of this to do. But I did not bound toward it and enter at once – for one reason, I was to stupefied with amazement, thrill and a little of terror – for the other, I felt that it would spoil it to get in while the grown-ups were tramping round the room like buffalos, and chatting in a manner guarantied to ruin any romance. I would wait until the room was quieter, and until my mind was a little quieter also.

 

 

 

Photo 1 The rocking horse mentioned in text    Photo 2 The Box Bed Room