I have decided to challenge myself with a classic of English literature. When I say challenge I mean English is not my first language and it took me a while to get through this novel. I have heard that the Brontë sisters were quite controversial for the standards of the mid 19th century and Emily had to cover some of the publication costs for ‘Wuthering Heights’ as it was considered to be a risk to the author.
I enjoyed this novel very much because it is so different from what I would normally expect in a novel set in the 19th century. It wasn’t about the upper-class society where the women are fragile and men are the gentleman and well-mannered, there were no beautiful dresses and formal dance parties where one finds love and lives happily ever after. ‘Wuthering Height’ is the opposite of that. The story takes place on the Yorkshire moors between the fictional dwellings of The Heights and Trushcross Grange and tells the story about the intense and tragic love between Cathrine Earnshaw and Heathcliff; an orphan adopted by Cathrine’s father. Each of the houses symbolises its inhabitants. Those at The Heights are strong, passionate and wild whereas those at Trushcross Grange are more passive and civilised. Heathcliff is the personification of The Heights.
This novel is for those who can handle unlikable characters. Heathcliff grew up in a house where there were violence and anger. He was also bullied by Cathrine’s brother which could not amount to a happy childhood. Catherine on the other hand was spoiled and indecisive. Although she did like Heathcliff, after spending a week in Thrushcross Grange surrounded by nicer people she became more judgmental of Heathcliff wild behaviour and manners. After she married Edgar Linton (resident of Thrushcross Grange) Heathcliff’s obsession for Cathrine intensified alongside his hatred towards Cathrine’s brother and Lintons. Revenge became a more powerful emotion than the love which eventually led to his destruction.
World of Abusive Childhood
Emily Brontë created a world where the consequences of an abusive childhood are tragic. Experiences from his childhood led him to become a man who beats his wife and takes Cathy (Cathrine’s daughter, second-generation), hostage, in order to make her marry Hareton (Heathcliff’s son). He is blinded by revenge for how he was treated in the past but his actions do not bring him peace. Till the end, he is tormented by Cathrine’s spirit and the consequences of his actions. We can only assume, there is hope for some happiness when Cathy (younger) and Hareton’s relationship grows stronger.
This was a tough novel but definitely worth reading. The next on my list is ‘Jane Eyre’ by Emily’s sister, Charlotte Brontë.