Wuthering Heights is the wild and passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley. Wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, he leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
Author: Emily Jane Brontë was born on July 30, 1818 in the village of Thornton. She was the fifth of six children of an Irish priest of the Church of England. She lost her mother as a child. Emily had a strong personality, she was independent and loved solitude and was very attracted to the supernatural. As children, the Brontë sisters had creative games and as they grew up this evolved into a ritual, with each of them taking care of their respective novel every evening. This is how Emily Brontë wrote her first and only novel “Wuthering Heights”, published under the male pseudonym Ellis Bell. She died shortly afterwards of tuberculosis at the age of 30 years.
My thoughts: I read this great novel just before Christmas and I loved it. I came across a brilliant review of it looking at Brian’s “Babbling books” blog and felt intrigued by this classic masterpiece.
From the start, we are immersed in an oppressive atmosphere, whether as a result of the nature of the surroundings or because of the characters and the feelings they exhibit. The novel begins with the narrator, Mr. Lockwood. He visits Heathcliff in his imposing home, Wuthering Heights, in order to rent Thrushcross Grange, of which Heathcliff is the owner. From there, we begin to be introduced to each of the characters. Just like Mr. Lockwood, we are curious to comprehend Heathcliff, his history and that of those around him.
Mrs. Dean, the housekeeper at Thrushcross, tells Mr. Lockwood the history of Heathcliff’s life. Heathcliff was a small boy when he was rescued from famine and poverty by Mr. Earnshaw during a visit to Liverpool. The latter took Heathcliff, aged six, to his home as a “gift” for his two children, Catherine and Hindley. At the beginning Heathcliff was badly accepted by Catherine and Hindley. But little by little, Catherine and the adopted “poor” boy Heathcliff became friends and accomplices. But this was not the case with Hindley, who humiliated Heathcliff. When they grow up, Catherine and Heathcliff fall in love, but, alas, Catherine opted for a marriage of reason, in order to eventually help find a good social status for Heathcliff. The latter was shattered to overhear unflattering half confidences concerning him that Catherine shared with their maid, Mrs. Dean (aka Nelly). On a whim, he disappeared and upon his return several years later he was rich, resentful and determined to make everyone pay for the hurt he had suffered.
Towards the end of the book, it is Mr. Lockwood who tells us the saga of this family and its descendants. We learn what fate was reserved for Heathcliff, his nephews and his son.
We are caught in a spider’s web, trapped, like these characters. The heaviness of the atmosphere is suffocating. The life of these characters is a combination of circumstances, a vicious circle. Their strings are pulled by a manipulative and abusive man, a man of few feelings, Heathcliff. It is with these simple words that I summarise this masterpiece. It is brilliantly written with elegance and a touch of black British humour. When I think that it was a young writer who wrote it, I am amazed by her ability to describe the human soul so accurately, in all its psychological ambivalence. I have to admit that this is not an easy read.