Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quarrels

Miss Linton regarded her sister-in-law with indignation.
            “For shame! For shame!” she repeated angrily. “You are worse than twenty foes, you poisonous fiend!”
“Ah! You won’t believe me, then?” said Catherine. “You think I speak from wicked selfishness?”
“I’m certain you do,” retorted Isabella, “and I shudder at you!”
“Good!” cried the other. “Try for yourself if that be your spirit; I have done, and yield the argument to your saucy insolence.”
--from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I love to read about a good fight. A sound battle of the wits or wills is always intriguing and often important to the conflict of any novel. The one I have included above from Wuthering Heights takes place between Catherine Earnshaw Linton and her sister-in-law, Isabella Linton. And of course—the argument is over a man (Heathcliff). Isabella, her understanding of Heathcliff’s character completely skewed by girlish infatuation, goes up against the much stronger and tougher Catherine. Catherine knows Heathcliff all too well having tried to “love him” herself. She knows he is incapable of making Isabella happy, but her motives for discouraging her sister-in-law’s affection stem not just from an attempt to spare Isabella, but also because her own heart is not disentangled from Heathcliff’s.

In my own writing, I get very excited about constructing a good quarrel. There is something compelling about characters struggling to get their own way, to understand one another, or to verbally punish another character.

In real life, however, there is nothing I hate worse. I will avoid argumentation at all costs, even if it means I lose out on something important to me. It’s funny how the characters we create take on attributes or traits we are afraid to exhibit in our own lives.  

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives.—Genesis 13:8


  1. Hello, nice to meet you Megan. I dislike confrontations of any kind. In writing, that's different.

  2. I hate arguing, as well. I only like it in fiction if it's brief. If it goes on too long, I end up speeding through it to get to quiet again!

  3. I am the same way about arguing! Avoid at all costs ... usually. Dad hates it too - he says it gives him a stomachache. But - he loves the "organized arguing" in being a lawyer. :)

    1. L--I had to laugh at the mention of your dad. That sounds so much like him!