Where to even begin with Wuthering Heights?
As most people know, this book is considered one of the classics, which is why I decided to read it. I honestly can’t tell if I’m glad I read it, but I’m happy to say I was able to get through it. I would be lying if I didn’t say that was one of the hardest books I’ve read. Maybe it wasn’t the best choice for my first read on my reading list. Yes, the prose and form of writing was hard to read at times, but that’s not what made this book difficult. It was the characters and the story line.
As I said in my first post under my Classics category, I tend to adopt the moods of the characters, and the tone of the book. Needless to say, the entire time I read this book I was surly, ill-tempered, and pretty much just wanted to find a way to fight with someone, or be vengeful and mess up someones life for no reason. I pretty much wanted to ruin other lovers lives because I felt like the love of my life chose to marry someone else even though deep down, I know they love me, right?
I’ll give you a little detail as to what the book is about:
It is a novel written by Emily Bronte and was published in 1874. As Wikipedia describes it, the title of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors of the story. The narrative centers on the all-encompassing, passionate, but doomed love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.
To make a long, grueling, complicated story short, Catherine and Heathcliff don’t marry each other. They reproduce with their spouse’s whom neither of them really love. Right before Catherine dies, her and Heathcliff proclaim their undying love for each other.
That’s just the first part of the novel though. The second part conveys the lives of the children of Heathcliff and Catherine (Cathy, and Linton). Eventually, another tangled love story unfolds, and Heathcliff is there the entire time taking out his revenge on these children. Still trying after all of these years to get retribution against Edgor Linton for marrying his love Catherine.
Overall, to put it simply, I felt that the characters in this story were selfish monsters. They only cared about themselves. I found it very hard to sympathize with any and all of the characters because it was difficult to pinpoint their redeeming qualities that made them worth sympathizing with. This mostly applies to Heathcliff and Catherine. I can sometimes stand Cathy and Linton at times, but eventually, they annoy me just as much as their parents.
I’ll have to say that I agree (to an extent) with Edward Cullen and Bella Swan in regards to their conversation about Heathcliff and Catherine in Twilight. Edward says the same thing as myself, he believes that they are monstrous people with no redeeming qualities. Bella disagrees by saying, “I think that’s it though. Their love (for each other) IS their only redeeming quality.”
But I’m a sap, and even their love couldn’t convince me to sympathize. My good friend Chris described how I felt perfectly. He said that he didn’t want his love story to feel like exercise. Meaning, it literally felt like work to get through this story and to find the happiness in the love there.
But, the book is considered a classic novel for a reason. It is considered to be a drama ahead of its time. Despite my griping, Bronte didn’t intend for this novel to be a sappy love story. There is a cynical plot and an unashamedly dark story line. Books of that era were often written to instruct readers, and primarily young ladies, in what was expected of them. Instead of frightening readers to follow the straight and narrow path, Wuthering Heights seduces its readers with its dark passion and misguided characters.
I would say that even though it’s clear that the characters of the story are flawed, their flaws are intriguing just as much as they are repelling. Even though I couldn’t stand them, I kept wondering in my head why they were the way they were, and I was compelled to keep reading to see if any redeeming qualities would come through.
In the end, if any lesson is to be learned from Wuthering Heights, it is the folly of denying your heart’s greatest passion, and this is something I will try and take with me after reading this novel.
Please feel free to comment and offer me different insight and perspective to this story! I love seeing and understanding different points of view.