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Noun Absolutes as Nouns
A Passage for Analysis
from Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights
Analysis Key

     This is a very interesting passage in three respects--the syntax, the parallel constructions, and the comparison/contrast. There are numerous alternative explanations for sentences in this passage, especially regarding the embedding of prepositional phrases. 

     One time [NuA], however, we were {near quarrelling [#1] }. | He 

said [DO the pleasantest manner {of spending [#2] a hot July day} was 

lying [#3] (PN) {from morning} {till evening} {on a bank} {of heath} {in the

middle} {of the moors}, {with the bees humming [#4] dreamily about}

{among the bloom}, and {*with* the larks singing [#4] high up overhead},

and {*with* the blue sky and bright sun shining [#4] steadily and cloudlessly}]. |

That was his most perfect idea (PN) {of heaven's happiness}; [#5] | mine 

was rocking [#3] (PN) {in a rustling green tree}, {with a west wind 

blowing [#4]}, and {*with* bright white clouds flitting [#4] rapidly above}; [#6]

and {*with* not only larks, but throstles, and blackbirds, and linnets, 

and cuckoos pouring out music [#4] } {on every side}, and {*with*  the 

moors seen [#4] } {at a distance}, broken [#7] {into cool dusky dells}; [#6] but 

{*with* close by great swells} {of long grass undulating [#4] {in waves} {to the

breeze}; [#6] and {*with* woods and sounding water}, and {*with* the whole 

world awake and wild [#8] } {with joy}. | He wanted all to lie [#9] {in an 

ecstasy} {of peace}; [#5] | I wanted all to sparkle [#9], and dance [#9] {in

a glorious jubilee}. |

1. "Quarrelling" is a gerund. Alternatively, the prepositional phrase could be viewed as a predicate adjective.
2. "Spending" is a gerund, and "day" is its direct object.
3. "Lying" (and later "rocking") is a gerund that functions as a predicate noun.
4. "Bees humming," "larks singing," and "sky and . . . sun shining" are noun absolutes that function as the objects of the preposition "with." The same is true later for "wind blowing," and for "clouds flitting," and for "larks, ... throstles, ... blackbirds, ... linnets, and cuckoos pouring." ("Music" is the direct object of "pouring.") Then there are "moors seen," and "grass undulating."
5. Note the semicolon between two main clauses with contrasting ideas.
6. This semicolon probably confuses many readers who may see it as the end of a main clause--and thus read "larks" etc. as new subjects. This one and the following two may be intended to separate what is "above" from what is "seen at a distance," from what is "close by," which includes the undulating grass, from the "woods" and "water." Paragraphs could be written to explain the parallels between Linton's ideal and Catherine's.
7. The comma cuts "broken" from the noun absolute, thereby making "broken" a gerundive that modifies "moors."
8. Given the noun absolutes that have preceded it, I would analyze "world awake and wild" as another one-- "world *being* awake and wild." Some people may prefer to see "awake" and "wild" as post-positioned adjectives to "world."
9. "All" is the subject of the infinitive "to lie," and then of the infinitives "to sparkle" and "dance." The infinitive phrases function as direct objects of "wanted."