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Comment on the following quote from Wuthering Heights: 'Oh, for mercy's sake,'...

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Comment on the following quote from Wuthering Heights:

'Oh, for mercy's sake,' interrupted the mistress, stamping her foot, 'for mercy's sake, let us hear no more of it now! Your cold blood cannot be worked into a fever: your veins are full of ice- water; but mine are boiling, and the sight of such chillness makes them dance.'

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This quote comes from Chapter 11 and is uttered by Cathy to her husband, Edgar Linton, after a confrontation that he and Heathcliff have had earlier on. Edgar is of course extremely frustrated about the nature of his wife's relationship with this interloper, whom he considers to be beneath her and to be of a very disreputable nature. However, when he has this conversation with Cathy, he does not respond to her with anger, but merely "sorrowful despondency":

'Remain where you are, Catherine,' he said; without any anger in his voice, but with much sorrowful despondency. 'I shall not stay. I am neither come to wrangle nor be reconciled; but I wish just to learn whether, after this evening's events, you intend to continue your intimacy with--'

It is this lack of anger and passion in his voice and attitude that enrages Cathy and causes her to respond with the words of the quotation listed in this question. Cathy's nature is very volatile and passionate, and this can be seen with the words she uses. But note too how the quote establishes a contrast between herself and her husband: Edgar's blood is "cold" and full of "ice-water," whereas Cathy's blood is "boiling," and the "chilliness" of her husband, her lack of strength of character, is something that only infuriates her the more. This quote is therefore important in revealing more about the character of Cathy but also the kind of relationship that Cathy and Edgar have. Edgar also stands in contrast to Heathcliff, who certainly cannot be accused of having "ice-water" in his veins. The dynamics of this curious love-triangle are therefore explored and developed in this chapter.


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