No clever missed connection this week for the book reviews – what you see is what you get. Mostly because the novel is the original revenge soap-opera of your binge-watching dreams so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. I particularly recommended Wuthering Heights if you find Jane Austen too warm and fuzzy.
Oh well then.
I need to preface this by letting you know that Emily Bronte is one of my spirit animals and all-around incredibly bad ass. I mean, as the story goes, she was bitten by a dog once and she calmly strolled into the kitchen and cauterised the wound herself with a hot iron. I also picture her taking a hearty swig of whiskey, but that’s neither here nor there. The book also introduces the future name of my second favorite cartoon cat.
So, this is a classic which means you all
should be are well acquainted with the story. It’s a tale as old as time, really. Boy gets adopted in kinda well off family thanks to the magnanimity of the father . Boy, in turn, falls for daughter as they grow up together. Daughter marries up in the world. Scorned boy leaves to find his fortunes and then returns to exact revenge and generally raise hell.
It’s basically a tale of all-consuming love, jealousy, sibling rivalry, obsession, money, betrayal, manipulations, seduction, death and revenge. We all love a good social class incompatibility problem to fuel a good dramatic love story – Catherine marries for position and Heathcliff goes the old fashioned way of hard graft and manipulation to hoist himself up the ladder. You can tell why it’s become so popular.
All in all, it’s definitely not a cheery read. The novel is classed as gothic fiction though most of the hauntings seem to be memories rather than poltergeists. There is a lot of death going around. Childbirth, vice, weak constitution, stiff breeze – the moors will get you. And they do make an excellent background to such a dark story – barren, wild, threatening and beautifully lethal.
And now onto the love story aspect. I know I seem to say this a lot, but I’m not quite sure I see how this has become Britan’s favorite love story of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I love how supremely real and flawed Catherine and Heathcliff are and how there’s a good chat to be had about the obscenely high standards we tend to have for our ideal partners. Having said that, I do think literature tends to lead to the over-romanticizing of certain situations. Just because it’s put on paper does not necessarily mean it’s aspirational, particularly when confronted with period fiction that mirrors different social expectations and conventions. There often is no room for details and, after all, the devil is in the details.
I’m not a love-grinch! Honest! I enjoyed following their relationship – addiction, obsession, soulmates, I don’t know. I love that Catherine and Heathcliff seem perfectly suited for each other in a they deserve each other sort of way (‘I am Heathcliff’ and all that). Neither of them is a victim – well no more than we’re all victims of our natures. I find the ending gloriously poetic and revel in the quiet that follows every storm – both literal and metaphorical.
The theme set in motion by the pair’s love affair is very clever and I think that, again, this aspect of the novel is perhaps not meant to be the central aspect. I like that things come in twos (Catherine and Cathy, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, two siblings per family) and how Bronte observes the inter-mingling of the two families (Earnshaw and Linton) that perfectly illustrates how small one’s universe can be made by life and obsession.
In the spirit of honesty, it’s always been one of my favorite books so I will give it a 5 out of 5 fields of heather.