What is the storyline Of Wuthering Heights?Is it hard to read?Why was it banned?You shall find out all these answers and more in this review.
I completed the book I've come to be in awe and respect of, again, last evening. My fondness for the book can't be rivalled, for each book has its space in my heart but Wuthering Heights' place, nor its characters' can never be replaced. Emily Brontë; the writer is late now, maybe because of the queer similarities in our behavior and attitude towards writing and life in general made me fall deeper in love with the book. Her life, till the very end intrigues me and
remains still, a mystery to the world.
Let me not bore you with what I think of the writer and her ideas, let me show you with words, why I think Wuthering Heights doesn't only deserve a beautiful space in my heart but truly deserves to be one of the greatest books in the world.
From the title, a reader would wonder what the book really means since the title has left none for a reader to imagine about the content. Wuthering Heights is the name of the Earnshaws family house, the house is set in the hills of Gildermort somewhere in England. The setting of the book doesn't roam about the coast or anything, it was quite decisive and deliberate as one would later find out.
The tale of three generations started from that very old house and another (Thrushcross Grange) and ended in the two houses.
The book was set in the nineteen century during the times when racial discrimination was at the highest. One could only wonder how the blacks abroad lived during those times for there was outright hatred expressed by the whites towards them. However, the writer didn't base her story on this fact, she went ahead to express the complexities of what lies within Wuthering Heights and its occupants.
Told in the omniscient point of view, with the narrator being a maid; Nelly Dean, who witnessed the whole happenings from the first generation till the third and recounted it all to Lockwood( a new tenant of Thrushcross Grange several years after) and to us; the readers. One might want to frown at the fact that the whole novel was basically hearsay but you'll surely agree with me that Nelly Dean is one brilliant story teller.
Her words perfectly painted the tales to live not excluding her inhumane behaviour which she exhibited few times. She didn't hid her love for some of the characters yet she thoroughly expressed their wrongful attitudes even their musings which she happened to have overheard or witnessed. All in all, it can be said that Nelly Dean is one hell of a narrator.
|Author Emily Bronte|
The book started with Heathcliff's presence inthe house; discovered by Mr. Earnshaw in the streets of Liverpool, his presence brought both light and darkness. For Catherine Earnshaw ( the family's only daughter) found a friend in the black boy that was brought, on the contrary, Hindley( the heir to the Earnshaws' fortune) couldn't tolerate him for his father prevented him from being hostel to Heathcliff which fanned embers of hatred in him towards Heathcliff. Catherine's friendship with Heathcliff developed into a love undefined or quantified by words.
Despite her marriage to Edgar who was the perfect husband, her reaction at seeing Heathcliff after three years of his absence was euphoric. However her death was the end of him for he became obsessed with her as he confessed to Nelly Dean that her face is not just engraved in his heart and memory but on every object even the very floor. Thus, for every day until the week of his death, he craved to see her and that grieved him terribly. He was cold and callous to everyone even to his own child; Linton that he made moves so cruel that one would hate him for his actions.
Heathcliff is a character one would love so deeply that one would hurt by his cruelty, yet one would pity him, love him and hate him over and over again. The heart of it all was how he suffered so much love and knew little or no happiness for his whole life; not because of his flaws for he greatly has a lot but because of love which he suffered in the hard way. I haven't read of a character more lonely that Heathcliff.
The third generation came with fair wind after the death of Catherine and with the birth of her daughter; Catherine (Cathy). Her father's reaction wasn't like Hindley who neglected his son after his wife's death, rather he took her under his tutelage and raised her, seeking comfort in her company even though he mourned for his wife; Catherine's death. Life was almost perfect until Isabella who married Heathcliff before Catherine's death,absconded from Wuthering Heights, gave birth to a sick child, died of an illness.
Edgar Linton took the responsibility of taking care of his sister Isabella before she died and brought her son; Linton to his home; Thrushcross Grange.
However, Heathcliff sent for his son in order to spite Edgar which led to the separation of the little cousins. Even though little Cathy and Linton lived close to each other, they weren't allowed to see each other due to the bad blood bred by Heathcliff's and Edgar's rivalry love for the late Catherine. However, fate chose to make them meet again, and Heathcliff, wearing his armour of cruelty exploited Cathy's love for his child and made her promise to marry her ailing cousin; Linton. He thought channeling his grief ans hatred of Edgar Linton would make him feel better about Catherine's death, however he was wrong for even after his triumph, he got to understand that nothing can fill the void in his heart not even violence or revenge but Catherine.
After the death of Edgar and his own child; Linton, he became the sole possessor of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and he made Cathy who was of age then, to live in Wuthering Heights with Hareton; who grew up to become so ignorant of the fact that he was cheated and works for Heathcliff with so much devotion. However, the story took a twist when Cathy who detested Hareton became friends then eventually lovers with him as they both pored on her books together to the dismay of Heathcliff. It can be seen that the theme of love, runs through the book even though the writer gave different shades and strokes to it.
LOVE, MELANCHOLY AND REGRET
Emily Brontë expressed love in its truest form in Wuthering Heights, it was much more than romance, the love expressed by the characters such as Hindley at the death of his wife and prior to her death showed so much in revealing a dark part that love can ruin and swoon. His love for his wife didn't make him stop his hellish attitude towards Heathcliff, reducing him into a servant and hitting him as he pleases. However, his wife's death after the birth of his son; Hareton, ruined him completely as he didn't only lost touch with the world, he lost touch with the only possible means he could pacify the void in his soul; loving his son.
He didn't only neglect and devoid the child of fatherly affection, he also physically assaulted the child several times especially when he was drunk and bitter. His aggression wasn't limited to Heathcliff, it abounded on his only son and affected him in the long run.
Emily Brontë successfully expressed a love unknown, a love untold and one that has probably never been felt through the characters of Catherine and Heathcliff. Their friendship blossomed like a wildflower into a love incurable by pain or even death or regret. Catherine said I am Heathcliff she talked about how He's more of me than I am of myself yet she married Edgar because she felt Heathcliff was poor and of a degrading society(being a black). One would have expected that their love should have been able to look over that flaw yet Emily showed us the flaws of love and it's regret and consequences. Their romance wasn't probably as fierce as Romeo and Juliet but their love was a flame that even death couldn't quench. Even after years of separation, it was vivid that Catherine would rather have Heathcliff beside her rather than Edgar Linton whom she married.
This truth, I believe contributed to her illness which eventually killed her with the inclusion of her premature child birth.
She spent her dying days in regret, and one must say that after confessing her thoughts to Heathcliff she felt better for it was described that she looked happy when she died. However, she left Heathcliff with words that continue to haunt and hurt him as he daily crave for the sight of her.
He became monomaniac because of her death, at first he channeled the grief he felt into vengeance as he accumulated more wealth by claiming inheritance to Hindley's heirloom after being a mortgagee of Wuthering Heights in exchange for paying cash to Hindley who squandered it on beer.
Yet revenge can't fill the void and emptiness in his soul, only Catherine could fill that void,thus in the week of his death, one would see how he was consumed with so much passion and happiness because he believed he saw Catherine physically, he knew his death was near but he wasn't bothered for he had lost his essence of living since her death over twenty years before. For twenty years, he walked as a brutal living corpse for his heart and soul was laid beneath the earth beside the chapel.
Thus, he died a rather queer death as he opened the window on a stormy night even though it rained heavily. Heathcliff was found drenched by rain on his bed with an happy smile plastered on his face, one is left to imagine that he eventually saw his object of obsession, or rather, he took delight in knowing that he'll be with her even in death.
Wuthering Heights is not a perfect tale, it doesn't have an happy or melancholic ending, it has a mixture of both. Yet, the writer doesn't present the end as tragic, it's left to the reader to deduce that conclusion from the end. Emily Brontë took us through her thoughts, travelling out of the state she was into an hemisphere called Wuthering Heights where she released doom and love into the air to govern over her characters which I've come to cherish and love.
Wuthering Heights has proved beyond reasonable doubts that love doesn't only have flaws but creates scars and pain unending. Thus, I'll say love while you can.
Review by Akanbi Odunayo Rhoda (Zoe)