This strange sounding line translates to “mother beneath the earth” meaning dead and buried. It’s just one of many ghostly torments in Wuthering Heights. Ellen, nurse and maid, sings it without irony to her charge, to calm him after an horrific scene, with a drunken and bereaved widower Hindley. The passage sees baby Hareton dangled over a bannister, conjuring warped Michael Jackson-esque visuals in the reader. (Don’t let me get started on the Joe Jackson connection here!) The treatment of baby Hareton compares with Medea’s treatment of her children. Hindley clearly relishes the pain he is causing those around him, and puts his child at risk of death. The baby is dropped, but is rescued dramatically by Heathcliff in mid-fall. Ellen, ever precise in her estimations of her employers, cries:
“I wonder his mother does not rise from her grave to see how you use him. You’re worse than a heathen, treating your own flesh and blood in this manner!” (66). (Italics mine).
Does Euripides similarly suggest that Medea is a heathen? After all, the Gods cast no judgement on her acts, even helping her to escape punishment. In this way, is she also Godless? Or are Gods and their progeny beyond reprove?
Bronte, Emily. 2009. Wuthering Heights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Euripides. 2008. Medea and other plays. Translated by James Morwood. Oxford University Press: Oxford.