Cime Tempestose: un amore che vince la morte

 

Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you — haunt me then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe; I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always — take any form — drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss where I can not find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!

Heathcliff

Era il 1847 quando Emily Bronte dava alle stampe il suo primo ed unico romanzo: il capolavoro gotico “Wuthering Heights”, Cime Tempestose. Alla sua uscita il romanzo ricevette una tiepida accoglienza ma ad oggi è innegabilmente considerato tra le opere più importanti della letteratura mondiale. Il romanzo si rilevò rivoluzionario per i suoi tempi grazie alla non-trasposizione cronologica dei fatti, dalla presenza di un incastro efficace di narrazione e per la presenza di elementi gotici e romantici che erano ormai lontani per la letteratura vittoriana. Molti critici hanno accostato il personaggio di Heathcliff al “Byronic Hero”, l’eroe romantico descritto da Lord Byron con spunti autobiografici che custodiva un passato ombroso e una forte passione: ed in effetti sono numerose le ombre che si nascondono nel passato di Heathcliff; Chi è? Da dove viene? Domande che non trovano mai risposta ma che non fanno che aggiungere fascino ad uno dei romanzi più belli di sempre.

La narrazione si concentra su due importanti case: Wuthering Heights, residenza degli Earnshaw e Thrushcross Grange, sede dei Linton. Quando il romanzo inizia ci troviamo nel 1801 e il nuovo affittuario di Thrushcross Grange, Mr. Lockwood, va a fare visita al proprietario della tenuta, il signor Heathcliff, nella sua dimora di Wuthering Heights. Dopo aver fatto la conoscenza degli strani abitanti della tenuta (dalla tetra e malinconica Cathy fino al burbero Joseph) rimane bloccato nella residenza per via di una tormenta di neve ecime-tempestose si trova costretto a passarvi la notte. Ed è qui che il lettore si trova catapultato nel primo momento importante di Wuthering Heights, quello che da vita all’intera storia: Mr Lockwood viene alloggiato nella stanza che sembrava appartenere ad una certa Catherine di cui trova e legge il diario. La tranquillità ben presto sparisce e Lockwood viene sorpreso dal fantasma della donna che chiede di poter entrare dopo aver vagato per vent’anni nelle brughiere

 

 

‘My fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it

Mr. Lockwood

 

Il mattino seguente, di ritorno alla propria tenuta, Lockwood chiede alla domestica Nelly Dean di raccontargli la storia di Wuthering Heights, ed è qui che si intreccia un secondo piano narrativo fatto di flashbacks. La domestica parte dal 1771 quando il Signor Earnshaw torna a casa con un trovatello di Liverpool, a cui da il nome di Heathcliff. Il piccolo entra subito in contrasto con il fratellastro Hindley ma inizia una solida relazione d’affetto con la sorellastra Catherine: il loro affetto si trasformerà ben presto in passione, una passione lancinante che li distruggerà entrambi salvo poi farli riunire per sempre come spettri vaganti per le brughiere. Dopo qualche anno Catherine decide infatti di sposare Edgar Linton e si trasferisce da lui; la parte in cui la ragazza chiede aiuto a Nelly Dean in merito al se accettare o no la proposta di Linton è la parte più famosa e più bella del romanzo, e per questo credo sia giusto riportarla integralmente:

You accepted him! Then what good is it discussing the matter? You have pledged your word, and cannot retract.’

‘But say whether I should have done so – do!’ she exclaimed in an irritated tone; chafing her hands together, and frowning.

‘There are many things to be considered before that question can be answered properly,’ I said, sententiously. ‘First and foremost, do you love Mr. Edgar?’

‘Who can help it? Of course I do,’ she answered.

Then I put her through the following catechism: for a girl of twenty-two it was not injudicious.

‘Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?’

‘Nonsense, I do – that’s sufficient.’

‘By no means; you must say why?’

‘Well, because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.’

‘Bad!’ was my commentary.

‘And because he is young and cheerful.’

‘Bad, still.’

‘And because he loves me.’

‘Indifferent, coming there.’

‘And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.’

‘Worst of all. And now, say how you love him?’

‘As everybody loves – You’re silly, Nelly.’

‘Not at all – Answer.’

‘I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and everything he touches, and every word he says. I love all his looks, and all his actions, and him entirely and altogether. There now!’

‘And why?’

Nay; you are making a jest of it: it is exceedingly ill-natured! It’s no jest to me!’ said the young lady, scowling, and turning her face to the fire.

‘I’m very far from jesting, Miss Catherine,’ I replied. ‘You love Mr. Edgar because he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and rich, and loves you. The last, however, goes for nothing: you would love him without that, probably; and with it you wouldn’t, unless he possessed the four former attractions.’

‘No, to be sure not: I should only pity him – hate him, perhaps, if he were ugly, and a clown.’

‘But there are several other handsome, rich young men in the world: handsomer, possibly, and richer than he is. What should hinder you from loving them?’

‘If there be any, they are out of my way: I’ve seen none like Edgar.’

‘You may see some; and he won’t always be handsome, and young, and may not always be rich.’

‘He is now; and I have only to do with the present. I wish you would speak rationally.’

‘Well, that settles it: if you have only to do with the present, marry Mr. Linton.’

‘I don’t want your permission for that – I SHALL marry him: and yet you have not told me whether I’m right.’

‘Perfectly right; if people be right to marry only for the present. And now, let us hear what you are unhappy about. Your brother will be pleased; the old lady and gentleman will not object, I think; you will escape from a disorderly, comfortless home into a wealthy, respectable one; and you love Edgar, and Edgar loves you. All seems smooth and easy: where is the obstacle?’

‘HERE! and HERE!’ replied Catherine, striking one hand on her forehead, and the other on her breast: ‘in whichever place the soul lives. In my soul and in my heart, I’m convinced I’m wrong!’

‘That’s very strange! I cannot make it out.’

‘It’s my secret. But if you will not mock at me, I’ll explain it: I can’t do it distinctly; but I’ll give you a feeling of how I feel.’

She seated herself by me again: her countenance grew sadder and graver, and her clasped hands trembled.

‘Nelly, do you never dream queer dreams?’ she said, suddenly, after some minutes’ reflection.

‘Yes, now and then,’ I answered.

‘And so do I. I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.’

‘Oh! don’t, Miss Catherine!’ I cried. ‘We’re dismal enough without conjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us. Come, come, be merry and like yourself! Look at little Hareton! HE’S dreaming nothing dreary. How sweetly he smiles in his sleep!’

[…]

He quite deserted! we separated!’ she exclaimed, with an accent of indignation. ‘Who is to separate us, pray? They’ll meet the fate of Milo! Not as long as I live, Ellen: for no mortal creature. Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff. Oh, that’s not what I intend – that’s not what I mean! I shouldn’t be Mrs. Linton were such a price demanded! He’ll be as much to me as he has been all his lifetime. Edgar must shake off his antipathy, and tolerate him, at least. He will, when he learns my true feelings towards him. Nelly, I see now you think me a selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s power.’

‘With your husband’s money, Miss Catherine?’ I asked. ‘You’ll find him not so pliable as you calculate upon: and, though I’m hardly a judge, I think that’s the worst motive you’ve given yet for being the wife of young Linton.’

‘It is not,’ retorted she; ‘it is the best! The others were the satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar’s sake, too, to satisfy him. This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself. I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and HE remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. – My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don’t talk of our separation again: it is impracticable.

Dopo questo lungo e commovente discorso Heathcliff, che stava origliando, scompare per poi tornare anni dopo con la sua vendetta. Il romanzo di Emily Bronte non è solo uno dei migliori mai scritti ma anche una storia vera e sincera di un amore umano: l’odio talvolta è solo l’altra faccia dell’amore e questo romanzo ci dimostra proprio questo facendoci vedere anche di cosa è capace un cuore distrutto. Di quanto amore, di quanto odio e di quanta violenza sia possibile l’animo umano, in Wuthering Heights non ci sono mezze misure: solo forti emozioni.

 

I temi fondamentali del romanzo sono molti e alcuni li abbiamo anche citati: il sentimento (positivo o negativo che sia), il sovrannaturale e il legame con la natura. L’animo di Heathcliff e Catherine è selvaggio, perchè legato al verde delle brughiere dello Yorkshire, tanto conosciute dalle sorelle Bronte: il legame con la natura diventa fondamentale e si fonde con l’Io e così è abbastanza comprensibile il senso del discorso di Catherine citato sopra: ella è Heathcliff, ma è anche Wuthering Heights.

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