As darkness falls, a man caught in a snowstorm is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house Wuthering Heights. It is a place he will never forget. There he will come to learn the story of Cathy: how she was forced to choose between her well-meaning husband and the dangerous man she had loved since she was young. How her choice led to betrayal and terrible revenge – and continues to torment those in the present. How love can transgress authority, convention, even death.
Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Have you ever had a love/hate relationship with a book? You could be reading a horrifically sad story, where everything goes wrong and gets worse the more you read; but there’s something that keeps you going? That’s how I felt when reading Wuthering Heights.
It’s one of those classics that I’ve always wanted to read but never actually found the time to get through. Everyone goes on about the hunky Heathcliff and this year I finally made the effort to see what he was all about.
Brontë uses incredibly powerful imagery throughout that intensifies every feeling. The secluded Yorkshire moors could not be a better backdrop for the mystery, gloom and tragedy of this story.
I have to convey a warning here: this is not your average classical romance; my idea of what the story would be like was completely wrong and I was in a state of shock for most of the first half. I had mistakenly assumed Heathcliff would be a rugged Mr Darcy (well, he was described as a dreamboat!) but I could not be more wrong – this was definitely no Pride and Prejudice!
But this is also what I loved about the book. Away from the social niceties and civilities that are common in other books of this time, Cathy and Healthcliff’s twisted relationship becomes utterly fascinating and all the more real.
I found Cathy to be manipulative and heartless when it comes to dealing with the men of her life. Initially, I blamed everything on her lack of courage and honesty, but there is a sorrow and resignation in her character that makes you realise what little choice she actually had. She’s the 19th century’s version of a man-eater, but you can’t blame her for making what she thought to be the best decisions in an unforgiving situation.
The story is heart wrenchingly sad throughout, and is probably one of the most frustrating things you will read. Even a week after reading it – I still can’t decide what I feel about Heathcliff. Whilst I was reading, I would think of him as hateful, loathsome, cruel, evil, and a bunch of other mean-sounding words. But then I’d go home and stay up all night thinking of Heathcliff. ‘Why?’ I’d ask myself, ‘he’s insane!’ But, slowly, I started to pity him and rationalise his cruelty. I realised, Heathcliff was a soul tortured by love and I completely fell for it.
“The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!”
I confess that I am a hopeless romantic and any type of love can generally get a forlorn sigh out of me; so you can only imagine the effect a love like Heathcliff’s had – there were sighs all over the place! Don’t get me wrong – our hero of the story is as crazy as they come, and I definitely wouldn’t refer to him as a ‘dreamboat’ but, to have a love that’s so immense, that you can’t live with or without, that causes so much distress and passion … now that’s pretty amazing story.