Author: Emily Brontë
Publisher Barnes & Noble
Original release date: 1847
Release Date of the copy I read: 2007
How I Read It: From my Personal Library
Wuthering Heights is a wild, 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 and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, 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.
Wuthering Heights has a gothic feel to it, which surprisingly varies greatly from her poetry, although both, her poetry and novel contain that connection to nature.
It is filled with emotion, anger, passion, the supernatural, and violence. To help portray those feelings Emily mirrored the weather to match the feeling of the scene, which greatly improved the atmosphere of the novel.
Emily’s writing style depended heavily on emotions and atmosphere, which made her writing style a little less plot-orientated than the works of her sister Charlotte.
The emotional tug of the novel is amazing and allows you to feel what the characters are feeling. Emily chose to focus on her characters raw emotions rather than where her characters were headed and how the plot was going to unfold and it fit the novel well. By using the wild vastness of the windswept Yorkshire moors, she incorporates the turbulence and instability of both the characters and the landscape. It also may come as a shock that I felt bad for Heathcliff and hated Cathy.
The following quotes were the ones that stood out to me and best characterized the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff.
“I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other. I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there has not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself that I am whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning or frost from a fire…
…My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath; a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff.
“May she wake in torment!” he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion, “Why, she’s a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there-not in heaven-not perished-where? Oh! You said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer-I repeat it till my tongue stiffen-Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you-haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murders, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always-take any form-drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”
This last quote is my absolute favorite.
“I disturbed nobody, Nelly.”, he replied, “and I gave some ease to myself. I shall be a great deal more comfortable now; and you’ll have a better chance of keeping me underground, when I get there. Disturbed her? No! She has disturbed me, night and day, through eighteen years’-incessantly-remorselessly.”
I selected those quotes because they sum up Cathy and Heathcliff’s relationship. When he was brought home by Mr. Earnshaw, Cathy was his greatest ally yet once she spent a few weeks with the Linton’s she decided that Heathcliff was too low to marry. To me Cathy was both vile and despicable for the way she treated him, yet it’s Heathcliff that’s often viewed as the villain.
I wished that the sequel would have been released as I would have loved to have seen the direction Emily was going in. Would she have added more about where Heathcliff came from? Where he went when he ran away and made his fortune? Would she have shown the life that Linton and Catherine had? Would they have mirrored the relationship of Heathcliff and Cathy? So many questions remain unanswered.