Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Inheritance


Choisya wrote:
From various things I have read, I understand that Emily Bronte did have a good knowledge of the inheritance laws of the time (which were being changed during her lifetime so were in the public eye). On the matter of who inherits Thrushcross, our primogeniture laws provided for the next in line but as there were no living sons Hareton is the nearest blood relative: Heathcliff married Edgar Linton's sister, Isabella, Hareton is a nephew of Catherine and a nephew by marriage of Isabella through whom Heathcliff inherited Thrushcross upon Edgar's death. Hareton would inherit once solicitors made the proper enquiries and established his right to do so.

Do you know a solicitor you could consult on this? I don't believe that Hareton would be in the line of succession because he wasn't a blood relative of Heathcliff's at all. He was the son of the brother of the wife of the brother of Heathcliff's wife. Normally, the law of succession doesn't go horizontally like that, but goes up and then down. So you would go to Heathcliff's parents and look for siblings and their progeny, then go to Heathcliff's grandparents and do the same, etc.

About ten years ago I was a beneficiary of the estate of a long-distant English relative who died intestate. They had to do a very complex genealogical survey to identify the forty two, as I recall, relatives who were entitled to a share of the estate. I got a copy of the extensive genealogical study they did which showed all the beneficiaries and their relationships to the decedent. In no case was any beneficiary related only by marriage. The marriage bond, at least as of ten years ago under English intestate law, did not operate to put a person in the line of succession.

I'm sure you know one or more solicitors. Perhaps you could give one of them the genealogical chart (there's a good copy on Penguin Classics edition) and ask whether Hareton would have any claim on Heathcliff's estate given that Isabella, Edgar, Catherine, Hindley, and Frances are all dead.

At this point, I am persuaded that he would not have any right of inheritance. He certainly wouldn't in the US, which follows English intestacy law fairly closely. But a competent solicitor (or a legal tutor in estate law, in case you know any of those) would be able to answer the question definitively.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Inheritance

Here's a paragraph from Wikipedia, which is hardly the definitive source on law, but is perhaps of some help.

"In most contemporary common-law jurisdictions, the law of intestacy is patterned after the common law of descent. Property goes first to a spouse, then to children and their descendants; if there are no descendants, the rule sends you back up the family tree to the parents, the siblings, the siblings' descendants, the grandparents, the parents' siblings, and the parents' siblings' descendants, and sometimes further to the more remote degrees of kinship. The operation of these laws varies from one jurisdiction to another."

As I noted in my previous post, it's blood kinship that matters, not marital relationships. Heathcliff, as far as we know, had no living blood relatives, hence nobody to inherit under intestacy.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Inheritance

Here's a 1825 summary of the law of Intestate Succession in Scotland with a brief outline of the law of intestate succession in England.
http://tinyurl.com/3d5w8h

I've skimmed the outline on the succession of real estate in England, which starts at paragraph 276. There is no provision for the relatives of a spouse to inherit.

There's also a useful summary of the Scottish (not English, but also a common law jurisdiction) law at paragraph 259. It goes through descendants (none for Heathcliff), then Collaterals (brothers and sisters, also none), then antecedents (parents, aunts, uncles, etc., none known for Heathcliff), and concludes that "failing any proofs of propinquity, the Crown succeeds as ultimus hoeres." Even Edgar, as Heathcliff's brother-in-law, wouldn't have inherited from Heathcliff if he had still been alive, let alone Edgar's wife's brother's son.

Unless anybody comes up with something different, it seems pretty clear to me that, notwithstanding anything Emily may have thought she knew about the laws of intestacy, neither Hareton nor Catherine had any right of claim whatsoever to any of Heathcliff's estate. They're out in the cold, literally.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Melissa_W
Posts: 4,124
Topics: 516
Kudos: 966
Blog Posts: 3
Ideas: 15
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Inheritance

What if old Mr. Earnshaw had legally adopted Heathcliff (it doesn't say so anywhere in the book, though)? Or, since Mr Earnshaw had brought Heathcliff home to be another son, would the neighborhood have considered him Hareton's uncle anyway?



Everyman wrote:
Here's a paragraph from Wikipedia, which is hardly the definitive source on law, but is perhaps of some help.

"In most contemporary common-law jurisdictions, the law of intestacy is patterned after the common law of descent. Property goes first to a spouse, then to children and their descendants; if there are no descendants, the rule sends you back up the family tree to the parents, the siblings, the siblings' descendants, the grandparents, the parents' siblings, and the parents' siblings' descendants, and sometimes further to the more remote degrees of kinship. The operation of these laws varies from one jurisdiction to another."

As I noted in my previous post, it's blood kinship that matters, not marital relationships. Heathcliff, as far as we know, had no living blood relatives, hence nobody to inherit under intestacy.


Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Inheritance


pedsphleb wrote:
What if old Mr. Earnshaw had legally adopted Heathcliff (it doesn't say so anywhere in the book, though)? Or, since Mr Earnshaw had brought Heathcliff home to be another son, would the neighborhood have considered him Hareton's uncle anyway?

Good questions. It was only fairly recently, at least in the US, that adopted children had rights of intestacy. I don't know whether in England at the time of WH they did, but I have my doubts. But as you say, there's no indication that he did so. And what the neighborhood may have considered them would have no legal effect. And since the Crown always needed money to fight its wars, I doubt that they would have let such a prize as Heathcliff's estate and two properties slip out of their hands without a contest. (There were death duties even then that had to be paid, so the state would know about the death and the property.)
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Inheritance

[ Edited ]
I do know solicitors but would not like to consult them on such a matter, especially as they would be unlikely to know anything about Victorian law. I agree that Heathcliff's relatives would have to be excluded first but I am also assuming that Emily Bronte, who apparently knew something about these laws, had discounted them as either being dead or untraceable, in which case I think Hareton would be counted as a relative, if not a blood relative. Also, I do not think that Emily's editors would allow her to make such an error because it would cause a furore amongst their readers. If solicitors make an error, or do not search sufficiently (as your family's solicitors did) then someone might turn up to contest the Will and get back the property, of course. In this case it would mean another book..

However, you are probably right, you are the lawyer not I:smileyhappy:.

Perhaps other readers have more information on this?



Everyman wrote:

Choisya wrote:
From various things I have read, I understand that Emily Bronte did have a good knowledge of the inheritance laws of the time (which were being changed during her lifetime so were in the public eye). On the matter of who inherits Thrushcross, our primogeniture laws provided for the next in line but as there were no living sons Hareton is the nearest blood relative: Heathcliff married Edgar Linton's sister, Isabella, Hareton is a nephew of Catherine and a nephew by marriage of Isabella through whom Heathcliff inherited Thrushcross upon Edgar's death. Hareton would inherit once solicitors made the proper enquiries and established his right to do so.

Do you know a solicitor you could consult on this? I don't believe that Hareton would be in the line of succession because he wasn't a blood relative of Heathcliff's at all. He was the son of the brother of the wife of the brother of Heathcliff's wife. Normally, the law of succession doesn't go horizontally like that, but goes up and then down. So you would go to Heathcliff's parents and look for siblings and their progeny, then go to Heathcliff's grandparents and do the same, etc.

About ten years ago I was a beneficiary of the estate of a long-distant English relative who died intestate. They had to do a very complex genealogical survey to identify the forty two, as I recall, relatives who were entitled to a share of the estate. I got a copy of the extensive genealogical study they did which showed all the beneficiaries and their relationships to the decedent. In no case was any beneficiary related only by marriage. The marriage bond, at least as of ten years ago under English intestate law, did not operate to put a person in the line of succession.

I'm sure you know one or more solicitors. Perhaps you could give one of them the genealogical chart (there's a good copy on Penguin Classics edition) and ask whether Hareton would have any claim on Heathcliff's estate given that Isabella, Edgar, Catherine, Hindley, and Frances are all dead.

At this point, I am persuaded that he would not have any right of inheritance. He certainly wouldn't in the US, which follows English intestacy law fairly closely. But a competent solicitor (or a legal tutor in estate law, in case you know any of those) would be able to answer the question definitively.



Message Edited by Choisya on 08-30-2007 06:26 PM

Message Edited by Choisya on 08-30-2007 06:33 PM
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Inheritance

[ Edited ]
It is difficult for the State to get their hands on property. The usual reason is if death duties remain unpaid. Solicitors and families go to the ends of the earth, literally, to find relatives to inherit estates. If you remember, Dickens shows how the law grinds exceedingly long and slow in these matters. I am placing my money on Emily and her editors being right:smileyhappy:.




Everyman wrote:

pedsphleb wrote:
What if old Mr. Earnshaw had legally adopted Heathcliff (it doesn't say so anywhere in the book, though)? Or, since Mr Earnshaw had brought Heathcliff home to be another son, would the neighborhood have considered him Hareton's uncle anyway?

Good questions. It was only fairly recently, at least in the US, that adopted children had rights of intestacy. I don't know whether in England at the time of WH they did, but I have my doubts. But as you say, there's no indication that he did so. And what the neighborhood may have considered them would have no legal effect. And since the Crown always needed money to fight its wars, I doubt that they would have let such a prize as Heathcliff's estate and two properties slip out of their hands without a contest. (There were death duties even then that had to be paid, so the state would know about the death and the property.)



Message Edited by Choisya on 08-30-2007 06:57 PM
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Victorian Inheritance Laws

[ Edited ]
Scottish law is very different to English law in lots of ways so is not to be relied upon here. I am still with Emily and her editors. I think if she was wrong there would have been letters to the press etc and the publicity engendered would have been handed down to us in some way.

Here is a PDF file I just found on the Web which seems to offer some answers and which talks about Emily making the 'Victorian choice' and belonging to the 'Reade school of thought'. I leave it to Everyman to sort it out - the author appears to agree with him about the unsatisfactory nature of the ending. The link isn't working so type in law moors wuthering heights into Google and click onto 'The Law of the Moors - a Legal Analysis of Wuthering Heights'.






Everyman wrote:
Here's a 1825 summary of the law of Intestate Succession in Scotland with a brief outline of the law of intestate succession in England.
http://tinyurl.com/3d5w8h

I've skimmed the outline on the succession of real estate in England, which starts at paragraph 276. There is no provision for the relatives of a spouse to inherit.

There's also a useful summary of the Scottish (not English, but also a common law jurisdiction) law at paragraph 259. It goes through descendants (none for Heathcliff), then Collaterals (brothers and sisters, also none), then antecedents (parents, aunts, uncles, etc., none known for Heathcliff), and concludes that "failing any proofs of propinquity, the Crown succeeds as ultimus hoeres." Even Edgar, as Heathcliff's brother-in-law, wouldn't have inherited from Heathcliff if he had still been alive, let alone Edgar's wife's brother's son.

Unless anybody comes up with something different, it seems pretty clear to me that, notwithstanding anything Emily may have thought she knew about the laws of intestacy, neither Hareton nor Catherine had any right of claim whatsoever to any of Heathcliff's estate. They're out in the cold, literally.



Message Edited by Choisya on 08-30-2007 06:54 PM
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Victorian Inheritance Laws



Choisya wrote:
Scottish law is very different to English law in lots of ways so is not to be relied upon here. I am still with Emily and her editors. I think if she was wrong there would have been letters to the press etc and the publicity engendered would have been handed down to us in some way.

Are you sure you aren't sticking to that position just because I'm taking the other side? You haven't found any law at all to support your position, and the legal sources I quoted you are all on the other side.

If Heathcliff had had honest solicitors they might indeed have tried long and hard to find somebody entitled to his money. That search would have had to involve trying to track down his origins, not impossible given that he was still a relatively young man.

But we know that Heathcliff's solicitor was, let us say a bit shady, so he probably didn't care who it went to as long as he got his cut of the estate for settling it.

I doubt that having gotten to the end of the book anybody but a pedant like I would have cared about the inheritance issue. After all, this isn't Harry Potter with fans looking for every little inconsistency.

There's probably an Emily Bronte website out there with experts who could address the issue. Perhaps you could use your internet research skills to find an appropriate person to ask?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: On the whole book - spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet:Victorian Inheritance Laws

[ Edited ]
No, Scottish Law really is a lot different to English law. Their Law evolved before the Union and they jealousy guard it. Now that they are an independent country it is getting even worse (or better as the case may be). Property law - buying and selling - is notoriously different but better than ours, for instance. I still think there would have been a stink when WH was published if her details had been very wrong. The article I posted talks about her ambivalence on the matter so perhaps that is nearer the truth?

I have done quite a lot of research on the web but haven't found anything very definitive about the law on either side, other than what I have now posted, which favours your theory. I think, from what I have seen on the web, that the 'inheritance issue' is one which various academics have mulled over, like yourself, and you will find that the site I posted gives quite a few references.

Yes, Heathcliff's solicitor was shady (somewhat Dickensian I thought) and may not have done a very good job. Many Wills were challenged in those days, as you will know from reading Dickens.





Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Scottish law is very different to English law in lots of ways so is not to be relied upon here. I am still with Emily and her editors. I think if she was wrong there would have been letters to the press etc and the publicity engendered would have been handed down to us in some way.

Are you sure you aren't sticking to that position just because I'm taking the other side? You haven't found any law at all to support your position, and the legal sources I quoted you are all on the other side.

If Heathcliff had had honest solicitors they might indeed have tried long and hard to find somebody entitled to his money. That search would have had to involve trying to track down his origins, not impossible given that he was still a relatively young man.

But we know that Heathcliff's solicitor was, let us say a bit shady, so he probably didn't care who it went to as long as he got his cut of the estate for settling it.

I doubt that having gotten to the end of the book anybody but a pedant like I would have cared about the inheritance issue. After all, this isn't Harry Potter with fans looking for every little inconsistency.

There's probably an Emily Bronte website out there with experts who could address the issue. Perhaps you could use your internet research skills to find an appropriate person to ask?



Message Edited by Choisya on 08-30-2007 07:52 PM
Frequent Contributor
Wildflower
Posts: 212
Registered: ‎12-31-2006
0 Kudos

Re: WUTHERING HEIGHTS: Chapter XXVII - XXXIV and the novel as a whole

I know nothing about English law or even inheritance law, but is there no possibility that the property could have been inherited by Cathy? And if not then why these lines from the book - "...'I want to finish my business with your master;'...'What business, sir?' said Nelly...'About the rent,' I answered. 'Oh, then it is with Mrs. Heathcliff you must settle,' she observed; 'or rather with me. She has not learnt to manage her affairs yet, and I act for her: there's nobody else.'"
"It's never to late to be what you might have been" -George Eliot
Melissa_W
Posts: 4,124
Topics: 516
Kudos: 966
Blog Posts: 3
Ideas: 15
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: WUTHERING HEIGHTS: Chapter XXVII - XXXIV and the novel as a whole

Good point - I'd forgotten all about that line. Perhaps all of Heathcliff's property devolved on Cathy because she was Linton's widow (and his first cousin - ew). It would have been odd but since Hindley sold the Heights to Heathcliff, cutting Hareton out, it might have been the only way for the property issue to resolve itself in the novel.



Wildflower wrote:
I know nothing about English law or even inheritance law, but is there no possibility that the property could have been inherited by Cathy? And if not then why these lines from the book - "...'I want to finish my business with your master;'...'What business, sir?' said Nelly...'About the rent,' I answered. 'Oh, then it is with Mrs. Heathcliff you must settle,' she observed; 'or rather with me. She has not learnt to manage her affairs yet, and I act for her: there's nobody else.'"


Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: WUTHERING HEIGHTS: Chapter XXVII - XXXIV and the novel as a whole

I'm not sure what was meant by those liens. We know that Cathy's property all went to Linton and then Heathcliff' they both make that clear. If she had really owned the Grange wouldn't she have moved over there after Linton's death?

I'm not even sure that women were allowed to own real property at the time WH was written.

Perhaps she was acting as Heathcliff's manager, since he was away much of the time?

Wildflower wrote:
I know nothing about English law or even inheritance law, but is there no possibility that the property could have been inherited by Cathy? And if not then why these lines from the book - "...'I want to finish my business with your master;'...'What business, sir?' said Nelly...'About the rent,' I answered. 'Oh, then it is with Mrs. Heathcliff you must settle,' she observed; 'or rather with me. She has not learnt to manage her affairs yet, and I act for her: there's nobody else.'"


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Melissa_W
Posts: 4,124
Topics: 516
Kudos: 966
Blog Posts: 3
Ideas: 15
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Terry Eagleton on "Wuthering Heights"

I skipped to Eagleton's chapter on the Bronte's in his book The English Novel: An Introduction. Aside from a rediculous two opening pages that remind the reader there were four surviving Bronte children - the useless Branwell is apparently not to be forgotten - not three, Eagleton goes on to describe the sisters' literary origins (which I shan't bore you with since we went over them in Emily's bio). He place Anne, Charlotte, and Emily at the start of the tradition of the realist, Industrial novel (alongside Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Kingsley, and Disraeli) because the women wrote novels about the world happening around them (Yorkshire during the "Hungry Forties," Chartism, factory reform, etc) and to them (experiences as governesses, caring for an ailing father and destitute brother).

After writing briefly about Anne (her novels have a simple contrast between love/truth/moral integrity and social acheivement), Eagleton moves to Charlotte, focusing primarily on Jane Eyre. He notes that Charlotte's heroines often have "divided selves" - outwardly demure, yet inwardly passionate.

Eagleton ends the chapter with Emily (using a very odd quote: "To turn from Charlotte to Emily is to shift from comedy to tragedy;" I have no idea where it comes from because he never wrote about lightness in Charlotte's novels). He contrasts Emily and Charlotte using Charlotte's ability to create compromise in her work. Emily creates "an implacable conflict between passion and society, rebillion and moral orthodoxy" in Heathcliff and Catherine whereas Charlotte allows Rochester and Jane to come together after each character has changed to lessen the divide between master and governess. As an example, Eagleton points out the flawed logic Catherine uses to choose between Linton and Heathcliff; the "Charlotte-like compromise" fails, triggering the tragic action of the novel. Catherine cannot split her inner and outer selves to be both the proper Mrs. Linton and Heathcliff's soulmate.

This brings up the duality of Heights critics (Nature) vs. Grange critics (Culture). Heights critics are much in favor of Heathcliff's vitality and primitiveness, thinking that Heathcliff and Catherine represent a utopian ideal which must exist outside the confines of the physical. The Lintons are rejected as selfish and brittle, with only skin-deep emotions. Grange critics reject this idea of Heathcliff and Catherine as infantile and symbiotic - Heathcliff is more like a corporate raider - and also back the Lintons as representatives of a gentler, more compassionate form of love (Eagleton quips "It is hard to imagine [Heathcliff] drying the dishes or bathing the baby).

Eagleton feels that the "truth" of the novel lies somewhere between the extremes of the Heights and the Grange, but Emily's narrative structure obscures the evidence. He points out that in Charlotte's novels, the reader is almost never in doubt as to how one should think because the authoratative narrator steers our reponses. On the other hand, the "Chinese-box" structure of Wuthering Heights using two biased narrators keeps the reader guessing how he or she should read the narrative of the novel. Truth is somewhat up in the air.

Eagleton ends by noting that it is the fusion of reality and fantasy which makes Emily's novel unique. He states, "When realism hits a genuine social problem, it can always resolve it by reaching back to these older forms [of literature] and borrowing a magical device or two from them." Charlotte used elements of older Gothic traditions to good effect in Jane Eyre and Villette and Emily borrows a few as well.

I very much like Eagleton's work and I've enjoyed reading through his book. My general complaint is that he tries for wit (see my question with the comedy to tradegy remark) and falls flat. He also should have dumped most of the stuff on Branwell. It had very little bearing on his analysis of the women's work (with the exception that Emily may have based Heathcliff's "jabbering" as a child on Branwell's descriptions of Irish immigrants in Liverpool)
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Victorian Inheritance Laws (Spoilers)

[ Edited ]

Everyman wrote:
I doubt that having gotten to the end of the book anybody but a pedant like I would have cared about the inheritance issue. After all, this isn't Harry Potter with fans looking for every little inconsistency.

There's probably an Emily Bronte website out there with experts who could address the issue. Perhaps you could use your internet research skills to find an appropriate person to ask?


No, you are far from the only pedant on this subject re. WH.

I had hoped this would get resolved and I wouldn't have to try to piece together this post, which I don't know how to do. But, anyway, a few pieces.

I believe this is the web site Choisya located:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/jurisprudence/jurisprudence-review/content/jr_rahman_2000.pdf

However, I'm not certain Rahman isn't a bit disingenuous in her quotation from the Sanger article -- to me she implies that all the property will go to the crown by quoting from Sanger's phrase, "He has no relations, so that his real property will escheat, and his personal property will go to the Crown as bona vacantia" (p 32 in Rahman). On the other hand, Sanger's original essay is not clear to me on exactly how the real property could have ended up in the hands of Cathy and Hareton -- at least as I am able to read it. But, he does suggest that there are several possibilities.

I haven't been able to locate Sanger's essay on-line and the part that deals with the law is three dense pages in Norton's Third Critical Edition of WH (William M. Sale, Jr. --late of Cornell University & Richard J. Dunn -- University of Washington). If Dunn is still at UofW, perhaps he could get you a copy of Sanger's essay.

Here is part of what Sanger writes:

"Heathcliff schemed to get all the property of both the Earnshaws and the Lintons. How did he do it? Emily Bronte clearly had a considerable knowledge of the law. We know the source of George Eliot's use of a base fee for the plot of Felix Holt. We do not know the source of Jane Austen's unerring grasp of the law of real property, but she lived among people who had settled estates and could easily have obtained it. But how Emily Bronte acquired her knowledge I cannot guess. There is also this difficulty. Wuthering Heights was written in the eighteen-forties. It was published in 1847. But the period of the tale is from 1771 to 1803. The Inheritance Act of 1834, the Wills Act of 1837, and, I think, the Game Act of 1831, had changed the law. Did Emily Bronte apply the law at the time she wrote or that at the period of the tale? In one case, as we shall see, she used the earlier law.

"Novelists sometimes make their plots depend on the law and use legal terms. But they frequently make mistakes and sometimes are absurd as Trollope is in Orley Farm. What is remarkable about Wuthering Heights is that the ten or twelve legal references are, I think, sufficient to enable us to ascertain the various legal processes by which Heathcliff obtained the property. It is not a simple matter. There was a fundamental difference between the law of land (real property) and that of money and goods (personal property)."

2 pages relating to both Heathcliff obtaining and then the disposition of the property after his death follow. Sanger concludes:

"There is, so far as I know, no other novel in the world which it is possible to subject to an analysis of the kind I have tried to make. This in itself makes the book very unusual....

"However dull and technical the above details may be, they do, I believe, throw a light on the character of Emily Bronte and her book. German romances can hardly have been the source of her knowledge of English law. A great critic has spoken of the passionate chastity of the book; but the extreme care in realising the ages of the characters at the time of each incident which is described seems to me a more unusual characteristic of a novel. It demonstrates the vividness of the author's imagination."

(More of Sanger's work was directed toward analyzing her chronologies than her legal knowledge -- however, it took A. Stuart Daley to unravel Emily's use of two almanacs for the mapping of days of the week and positions of the moon, rather than the actual dates for the years in question. (ala, the days before Internet and computers))

I know this is as clear as mud, and if need be, we'll try to figure out a way next week to get you the other two pages of Sanger, but if you are interested in pursuing, please try to find either an alternate critic or the article itself. As best I can tell, (Charles Percy) Sanger presented his paper in the 1920's. It was read to the Heretics, a society at Cambridge University.

(I would also suspect that many modern novels could withstand the type of scrutiny Sanger calls "unusual." )

Message Edited by Peppermill on 08-31-2007 12:26 AM

Message Edited by Peppermill on 08-31-2007 12:27 AM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Terry Eagleton on "Wuthering Heights"

Thanks a lot for this Melissa - very enlightening and I agree Eagleton's Marxist analysis (of course:smileyhappy:). It also explains why there has been controversy here:smileyhappy:. I am definitely a Heights reader.




pedsphleb wrote:
I skipped to Eagleton's chapter on the Bronte's in his book The English Novel: An Introduction. Aside from a rediculous two opening pages that remind the reader there were four surviving Bronte children - the useless Branwell is apparently not to be forgotten - not three, Eagleton goes on to describe the sisters' literary origins (which I shan't bore you with since we went over them in Emily's bio). He place Anne, Charlotte, and Emily at the start of the tradition of the realist, Industrial novel (alongside Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Kingsley, and Disraeli) because the women wrote novels about the world happening around them (Yorkshire during the "Hungry Forties," Chartism, factory reform, etc) and to them (experiences as governesses, caring for an ailing father and destitute brother).

After writing briefly about Anne (her novels have a simple contrast between love/truth/moral integrity and social acheivement), Eagleton moves to Charlotte, focusing primarily on Jane Eyre. He notes that Charlotte's heroines often have "divided selves" - outwardly demure, yet inwardly passionate.

Eagleton ends the chapter with Emily (using a very odd quote: "To turn from Charlotte to Emily is to shift from comedy to tragedy;" I have no idea where it comes from because he never wrote about lightness in Charlotte's novels). He contrasts Emily and Charlotte using Charlotte's ability to create compromise in her work. Emily creates "an implacable conflict between passion and society, rebillion and moral orthodoxy" in Heathcliff and Catherine whereas Charlotte allows Rochester and Jane to come together after each character has changed to lessen the divide between master and governess. As an example, Eagleton points out the flawed logic Catherine uses to choose between Linton and Heathcliff; the "Charlotte-like compromise" fails, triggering the tragic action of the novel. Catherine cannot split her inner and outer selves to be both the proper Mrs. Linton and Heathcliff's soulmate.

This brings up the duality of Heights critics (Nature) vs. Grange critics (Culture). Heights critics are much in favor of Heathcliff's vitality and primitiveness, thinking that Heathcliff and Catherine represent a utopian ideal which must exist outside the confines of the physical. The Lintons are rejected as selfish and brittle, with only skin-deep emotions. Grange critics reject this idea of Heathcliff and Catherine as infantile and symbiotic - Heathcliff is more like a corporate raider - and also back the Lintons as representatives of a gentler, more compassionate form of love (Eagleton quips "It is hard to imagine [Heathcliff] drying the dishes or bathing the baby).

Eagleton feels that the "truth" of the novel lies somewhere between the extremes of the Heights and the Grange, but Emily's narrative structure obscures the evidence. He points out that in Charlotte's novels, the reader is almost never in doubt as to how one should think because the authoratative narrator steers our reponses. On the other hand, the "Chinese-box" structure of Wuthering Heights using two biased narrators keeps the reader guessing how he or she should read the narrative of the novel. Truth is somewhat up in the air.

Eagleton ends by noting that it is the fusion of reality and fantasy which makes Emily's novel unique. He states, "When realism hits a genuine social problem, it can always resolve it by reaching back to these older forms [of literature] and borrowing a magical device or two from them." Charlotte used elements of older Gothic traditions to good effect in Jane Eyre and Villette and Emily borrows a few as well.

I very much like Eagleton's work and I've enjoyed reading through his book. My general complaint is that he tries for wit (see my question with the comedy to tradegy remark) and falls flat. He also should have dumped most of the stuff on Branwell. It had very little bearing on his analysis of the women's work (with the exception that Emily may have based Heathcliff's "jabbering" as a child on Branwell's descriptions of Irish immigrants in Liverpool)


Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Victorian Inheritance Laws (Spoilers)

[ Edited ]
However, I'm not certain Rahman isn't a bit disingenuous in her quotation from the Sanger article -- to me she implies that all the property will go to the crown by quoting from Sanger's phrase, "He has no relations, so that his real property will escheat, and his personal property will go to the Crown as bona vacantia" (p 32 in Rahman).

Yes, as I have posted elsewhere property was not easily relinquished to the Crown and there are countless incidences of long drawn out legal cases to establish who could inherit. This is shown. for instance, in Dickens Bleak House in the case of Jarndyce & Jarndyce at the Court of Chancery. (Dickens had been a legal clerk and a court reporter.):-

'Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this high court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth...here they are mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee deep in technicalities, running their goat hair and horsehair warded heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might. [The] various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fathers, who made a fortune by it...'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_Chancery

For solicitors establishing the right to inheritance was a very lucrative business which could last a lifetime. This article about Dickens touches on the complexities of Victorian inheritance law which the author suggests was open to manipulation and which was going through a lot of changes during Emily's time:-

http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/409

Under these legal conditions I suspect that people were very reluctant to challenge a Will and that many were maladministered, as may have been the case with Heathcliff's lawyer, who, in any case, seemed somewhat incompetent.







Peppermill wrote:

Everyman wrote:
I doubt that having gotten to the end of the book anybody but a pedant like I would have cared about the inheritance issue. After all, this isn't Harry Potter with fans looking for every little inconsistency.

There's probably an Emily Bronte website out there with experts who could address the issue. Perhaps you could use your internet research skills to find an appropriate person to ask?


No, you are far from the only pedant on this subject re. WH.

I had hoped this would get resolved and I wouldn't have to try to piece together this post, which I don't know how to do. But, anyway, a few pieces.

I believe this is the web site Choisya located:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/jurisprudence/jurisprudence-review/content/jr_rahman_2000.pdf

However, I'm not certain Rahman isn't a bit disingenuous in her quotation from the Sanger article -- to me she implies that all the property will go to the crown by quoting from Sanger's phrase, "He has no relations, so that his real property will escheat, and his personal property will go to the Crown as bona vacantia" (p 32 in Rahman). On the other hand, Sanger's original essay is not clear to me on exactly how the real property could have ended up in the hands of Cathy and Hareton -- at least as I am able to read it. But, he does suggest that there are several possibilities.

I haven't been able to locate Sanger's essay on-line and the part that deals with the law is three dense pages in Norton's Third Critical Edition of WH (William M. Sale, Jr. --late of Cornell University & Richard J. Dunn -- University of Washington). If Dunn is still at UofW, perhaps he could get you a copy of Sanger's essay.

Here is part of what Sanger writes:

"Heathcliff schemed to get all the property of both the Earnshaws and the Lintons. How did he do it? Emily Bronte clearly had a considerable knowledge of the law. We know the source of George Eliot's use of a base fee for the plot of Felix Holt. We do not know the source of Jane Austen's unerring grasp of the law of real property, but she lived among people who had settled estates and could easily have obtained it. But how Emily Bronte acquired her knowledge I cannot guess. There is also this difficulty. Wuthering Heights was written in the eighteen-forties. It was published in 1847. But the period of the tale is from 1771 to 1803. The Inheritance Act of 1834, the Wills Act of 1837, and, I think, the Game Act of 1831, had changed the law. Did Emily Bronte apply the law at the time she wrote or that at the period of the tale? In one case, as we shall see, she used the earlier law.

"Novelists sometimes make their plots depend on the law and use legal terms. But they frequently make mistakes and sometimes are absurd as Trollope is in Orley Farm. What is remarkable about Wuthering Heights is that the ten or twelve legal references are, I think, sufficient to enable us to ascertain the various legal processes by which Heathcliff obtained the property. It is not a simple matter. There was a fundamental difference between the law of land (real property) and that of money and goods (personal property)."

2 pages relating to both Heathcliff obtaining and then the disposition of the property after his death follow. Sanger concludes:

"There is, so far as I know, no other novel in the world which it is possible to subject to an analysis of the kind I have tried to make. This in itself makes the book very unusual....

"However dull and technical the above details may be, they do, I believe, throw a light on the character of Emily Bronte and her book. German romances can hardly have been the source of her knowledge of English law. A great critic has spoken of the passionate chastity of the book; but the extreme care in realising the ages of the characters at the time of each incident which is described seems to me a more unusual characteristic of a novel. It demonstrates the vividness of the author's imagination."

(More of Sanger's work was directed toward analyzing her chronologies than her legal knowledge -- however, it took A. Stuart Daley to unravel Emily's use of two almanacs for the mapping of days of the week and positions of the moon, rather than the actual dates for the years in question. (ala, the days before Internet and computers))

I know this is as clear as mud, and if need be, we'll try to figure out a way next week to get you the other two pages of Sanger, but if you are interested in pursuing, please try to find either an alternate critic or the article itself. As best I can tell, (Charles Percy) Sanger presented his paper in the 1920's. It was read to the Heretics, a society at Cambridge University.

(I would also suspect that many modern novels could withstand the type of scrutiny Sanger calls "unusual." )

Message Edited by Choisya on 08-31-2007 05:53 AM
jd
Frequent Contributor
jd
Posts: 326
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Victorian Inheritance Laws (Spoilers)

Duke University has a Hogarth press collection and has the Sanger article. Any one in N. Carolina? -jd
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Victorian Inheritance Laws (Spoilers)


Choisya wrote:
However, I'm not certain Rahman isn't a bit disingenuous in her quotation from the Sanger article -- to me she implies that all the property will go to the crown by quoting from Sanger's phrase, "He has no relations, so that his real property will escheat, and his personal property will go to the Crown as bona vacantia" (p 32 in Rahman).

Yes, as I have posted elsewhere property was not easily relinquished to the Crown and there are countless incidences of long drawn out legal cases to establish who could inherit....

Choisya -- Sanger's arguments on the ability to retain the land, at least as I read them, seem to be based as much on how the rents had been managed by Heathcliff and hence the resources that would have been required to reclaim the properties as on inheritance law per se. But there are also apparently issues of elapsed time necessary for what I would call "clear title", but again, I am out of my domain here. Somewhere I have also seen an article showing the conditions under which Cathy would become entitled to inherit -- conditions that I believe that article implied she met after the death of Heathcliff. But that one may be already returned to the library. Anyway, the subject does seem to be the scholar's dream of relevant arcane possibilities to unravel.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Terry Eagleton on "Wuthering Heights"

Melissa -- thanks so much for this synopsis of Eagleton on WH. This is the clearest description of the significance of the unreliable double framing that I have seen to date! (See italics below.)

pedsphleb wrote {ed.}:
I skipped to Eagleton's chapter on the Bronte's in his book The English Novel: An Introduction. Aside from a ridiculous two opening pages that remind the reader there were four surviving Bronte children - the useless Branwell is apparently not to be forgotten - not three, Eagleton goes on to describe the sisters' literary origins (which I shan't bore you with since we went over them in Emily's bio). He places Anne, Charlotte, and Emily at the start of the tradition of the realist, Industrial novel (alongside Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Kingsley, and Disraeli) because the women wrote novels about the world happening around them (Yorkshire during the "Hungry Forties," Chartism, factory reform, etc) and to them (experiences as governesses, caring for an ailing father and destitute brother).

After writing briefly about Anne (her novels have a simple contrast between love/truth/moral integrity and social achievement), Eagleton moves to Charlotte, focusing primarily on Jane Eyre. He notes that Charlotte's heroines often have "divided selves" - outwardly demure, yet inwardly passionate.

Eagleton ends the chapter with Emily (using a very odd quote: "To turn from Charlotte to Emily is to shift from comedy to tragedy;" I have no idea where it comes from because he never wrote about lightness in Charlotte's novels). He contrasts Emily and Charlotte using Charlotte's ability to create compromise in her work. Emily creates "an implacable conflict between passion and society, rebellion and moral orthodoxy" in Heathcliff and Catherine whereas Charlotte allows Rochester and Jane to come together after each character has changed to lessen the divide between master and governess. As an example, Eagleton points out the flawed logic Catherine uses to choose between Linton and Heathcliff; the "Charlotte-like compromise" fails, triggering the tragic action of the novel. Catherine cannot split her inner and outer selves to be both the proper Mrs. Linton and Heathcliff's soulmate.

This brings up the duality of Heights critics (Nature) vs. Grange critics (Culture). Heights critics are much in favor of Heathcliff's vitality and primitiveness, thinking that Heathcliff and Catherine represent a utopian ideal which must exist outside the confines of the physical. The Lintons are rejected as selfish and brittle, with only skin-deep emotions. Grange critics reject this idea of Heathcliff and Catherine as infantile and symbiotic - Heathcliff is more like a corporate raider - and also back the Lintons as representatives of a gentler, more compassionate form of love. (Eagleton quips "It is hard to imagine [Heathcliff] drying the dishes or bathing the baby".)

Eagleton feels that the "truth" of the novel lies somewhere between the extremes of the Heights and the Grange, but Emily's narrative structure obscures the evidence. He points out that in Charlotte's novels, the reader is almost never in doubt as to how one should think because the authoritative narrator steers our responses. On the other hand, the "Chinese-box" structure of Wuthering Heights using two biased narrators keeps the reader guessing how he or she should read the narrative of the novel. Truth is somewhat up in the air.

Eagleton ends by noting that it is the fusion of reality and fantasy which makes Emily's novel unique.
He states, "When realism hits a genuine social problem, it can always resolve it by reaching back to these older forms [of literature] and borrowing a magical device or two from them." Charlotte used elements of older Gothic traditions to good effect in Jane Eyre and Villette and Emily borrows a few as well.

I very much like Eagleton's work and I've enjoyed reading through his book. My general complaint is that he tries for wit (see my question with the comedy to tragedy remark) and falls flat. He also should have dumped most of the stuff on Branwell. It had very little bearing on his analysis of the women's work (with the exception that Emily may have based Heathcliff's "jabbering" as a child on Branwell's descriptions of Irish immigrants in Liverpool).
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy