Girls are cruelest to themselves.
Someone like Emily Brontë,
who remained a girl all her life despite her body as a woman,
had cruelty drifted up in all the cracks of her like spring snow.
We can see her ridding herself of it at various times
with a gesture like she used to brush the carpet.
Reason with him and then whip him!
was her instruction (age six) to her father
regarding brother Branwell.
And when she was 14 and bitten by a rabid dog she strode (they say)
into the kitchen and taking red hot tongs from the back of the stove applied
them directly to her arm.
Cauterization of Heathcliff took longer.
More than thirty years in the time of the novel,
from the April evening when he runs out the back door of the kitchen
and vanishes over the moor
because he overheard half a sentence of Catherine’s
(“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff”)
until the wild morning
when the servant finds him stark dead and grinning
on his rainsoaked bed upstairs in Wuthering Heights.
Heathcliff is a pain devil.
If he had stayed in the kitchen
long enough to hear the other half of Catherine’s sentence
(“so he will never know how I love him”)
Heathcliff would have been set free.
But Emily knew how to catch a devil.
She put into him in place of a soul
the constant cold departure of Catherine from his nervous system
every time he drew a breath or moved thought.
She broke all his moments in half,
with the kitchen door standing open.
I am not unfamiliar with this half-life.
But there is more to it than that.