Author: Emily Brontë
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Publishing Date: 2008
Number of Pages: 357
Genre: Romance, English Fiction, Classic Fiction
Wuthering Heights is the story of two families both joined and riven by love and hate. Cathy is a beautiful and willful young woman torn between the soft-hearted Edgar, and Heathcliff, the passionate and resentful man who has loved her since childhood. The power of their bond creates a maelstrom of cruelty and violence which will leave one of them dead and cast a shadow over the lives of their children.
With the advent of the proverbial love month, I made a quick research on the best love stories. Wuthering Heights topped almost every list that I checked. Thankfully, I already have a copy of the book. Trusting in the recommendation of my fellow readers, I placed the book on top of my February 2018 reading list even though my idea of the book is bare minimum. What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional roller coaster ride that it made me ride.
Boredom. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the start I wanted with the book. It immediately made me question, “where is the thing that made many readers rave about this book?” The narrative’s slow pace was unbearable.
In the first part, Mr. Lockwood relates how he crossed paths with Heathcliff, his landlord. Mr. Lockwood rented Thrushcross Grange in order to escape his chaotic London life. To establish rapport with his landlord, Lockwood visited Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff resides. Unable to return to the Grange due to the snow, Lockwood was allowed to stay at the Heights. The narrative picked up as Lockwood discovered several secrets in his brief stay at the Heights.
Terror. Mr. Lockwood, on his stay at the Heights, met its interesting denizens, Cathy, Hareton, and Joseph. But there is one more resident who has already passed away but whose presence left an indelible mark. While sleeping on Catherine’s bedchamber, Lockwood encountered the presence of this fifth unseen resident in a dream. His scream roused Heathcliff who immediately believed Lockwood’s story. When Lockwood returned to the Grange the next day, he fell ill, and he was looked after by the Grange’s housekeeper, Nelly Dean. While convalescing, Lockwood learned more about the Heights’ history from Nelly Dean.
Foundling. It all began when Mr. Earnshaw, the patriarch of the Heights, saw a “starving, and homeless and as good as dumb in the streets of Liverpool” lad on his return from one of his travels. When he inquired, nobody would own up to this lad. Mr. Earnshaw then brought him home and raised him as his own together with his two children, Hareton and Catherine. That was how Heathcliff ended up being a member of the Earnshaw’s household.
Romance. The prevailing theme is the love story of Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar Linton. Linton is the son of Thrushcross Grange’s owners and resented Heathcliff’s presence. This love triangle showed Catherine’s superfluous nature. Willful and free-spirited, she is one of the weakest characters in the story although her presence is repeatedly impressed on the reader because of Heathcliff’s devotion. But there is another love story that is taking shape in the present, and is molded by the events that happened before.
Poetic. Romance is a prevailing theme in English literature during the 19th century. But there is one thing that made Wuthering Heights tower above its contemporaries – the poetic manner in which the story was related. The story is made riveting by the emotions flowing from every word. The emotionally charged words kept me hooked from start to finish. To say that I was in awe is an understatement. I was enthralled with the spiraling flow of rich poetry that gave me an out-of-this world experience.
This magical poetry was also in full display in the character’s interactions. The interactions amongst the characters were powerful but not overbearing. Each emotion portrayed in the story can easily be discerned by the reader’s naked eye. Tension, fear, anger, passion and angst are some of the strongest emotions that hover above the book’s characters. This natural flow assuaged my understanding and appreciation of the story, which I initially thought was a complex one.
Despicable. Heathcliff, in himself, is one important element of the story. His presence and his evil machinations bound all characters together, both past and present. His impish behavior makes him one of the most loathsome literary characters I have encountered. He is a perplexing character whose villainous mind stymied the development of everything that is great about the people surrounding him. His frustrations greatly distorted him as a person, skewing his vision. But he is, at the heat of it, an abominable person.
Believable. What made Heathcliff a believably deplorable character is Bronte’s brilliant development of him. He is both memorable and believable that one can opt to rename the as The Life and Times of Heathcliff. Although the other characters in the book were well-developed, Heathcliff’s unmatched fire devours them all. Nonetheless, because of Bronte’s poetic style, she was able to seamlessly integrate each character into one powerful narrative.
Passionate. What pushed Heathcliff to become the despicable person that he is? It is the self-consuming emotion that we all refer to as passion. His passion for Catherine blurred his vision. However, as you read more into the story, you get to understand Heathcliff’s nature. It makes one reflect – could we blame someone for being too passionate? In the end, one is caught up in a quandary. Should I or should I not forgive Heathcliff’s actions, abominable as they are?
Heathcliff. It is undeniable that Wuthering Heights is about Heathcliff – his childhood, his love story, his hatred, and his passion. He was busy being angry with the world he caused a rift in the world surrounding him. However, the sins of his past began catching up with him in the end. As they say, the universe will find a way to rearrange things, to correct everything. The book’s surprising ending proved that. The karmic energies righted the wrongs afforded to the kind people similar to Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones.
Classic. Heathcliff is one despicable character. He is also one of the most memorable, one you’d love to hate and hate to love. With that said, Emily Bronte laid the groundwork for a captivating story that transcends all times. The book had the perfect mix of elements, from characters to story to story-telling. Wuthering Heights is a towering work of fiction, a book that has left its mark on me. Yes, it is a romance story, but beyond the romance, it is a story of passion. Easily, Wuthering Heights is one of the best English novels.
Recommended for lovers of English romance stories, those who enjoy reading classical works, those who like well-written prose, and those who like reading love stories borne out of tragedy.
Not recommended for those who doesn’t like reading first person perspective, and those who dislike poetry in general.
About the Author
Emily Bronte is one third of the famed Bronte sisters of English literature. She was born on July 30, 1818 and is one of six children, five of whom are females.
After their mother died in 1821, Emily, together with her sisters Charlotte, Maria and Elizabeth were sent in 1824 to Cowan Bridge, a school for clergymen’s daughters. When Maria and Elizabeth died there due to tuberculosis, the Bronte siblings were home schooled. This is the point when the Bronte sisters explored vivid fantasy worlds by writing stories.
Emily then worked briefly as a teacher in 1838 before returning home. Emily’s first published works were poems which were printed alongside with her sister’s, titled Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. In 1847, Emily’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, was published. On December 19th of the following year, Emily passed away at the tender age of 30.