Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
In 1801, Mr. Lockwood was driven by the often unfriendly mien of his Landlord Heathcliff who lived in the ancient manor of Wuthering Heights – four odd miles away from his house called Thrushcross Grange. This leads to an inquisitorial quest to find out a bit more about his landlord and ends up putting down his findings in his diary courtesy Nelly Dean – Mr. Lockwood’s housekeeper who incidentally had worked at the wuthering Height before. Lockwood’s chronicles in his diary makes the bulk of Wuthering Heights. Nelly recollects living with the Earnshaws at wuthering Heights. They had two children, Hindley and his younger sister Catherine. There’s yet another son, Heathcliff who Mr. Earnshaw had adopted during his sojourn to Liverpool. Mrs. Earnshaw dies shortly, and Mr. Earnshaw’s love for Heathcliff grows even deeper much to the chagrin of his biological son Hindley. Noticing this, Mr. Earnshaw enrolls Hindley to a college just to keep him away. After Mr. Earnshaw dies some three years later, Hindley returns to inherit the manor with his wife Frances and takes his maltreatment of Heathcliff a notch higher. Meanwhile at the Thrushcross Grange, there lived two pampered Children of the wealthy Lintons; Edgar and Isabella. Heathcliff and Catherine visit them with the intention of teasing them but when it was time to go back to Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff had to leave Catherine behind beacause she had sustained a dog bite which would take some five weeks to heal. In the process, Edgar falls in love Catherine and marries her.
Hindley’s wife Frances gives birth to a baby boy names Hareton and dies shortly after. A distraught Hindley takes to alcoholism and gambling afterwards.
Heathcliff goes to foreign land and acquires strange wealth and returns to Wuthering Heights to exact vengeance on all who had offended him. He starts off his grand scheme by lending out huge sums to Hindley to bankroll his drunken lifestyle, plunging into further debts and misery. He later inherits the manor when Hindley dies ad sets out to inherit the Thrushcross Grange as well by marrying Isabella Linton. Isabella then flees to London to bear Heathcliff’s son and names him Linton because of Heathcliff’s cruelty to her. Meanwhile, Catherine dies after giving birth to a daughter and names her Catherine.
Young Catherine later meets a sickly Linton and kicks start a secret love affair entirely through letters. Linton finds he is being forced to marry Catherine just so to inherit the Thrushcross grange – to complete his revenge on Edgar for taking his woman Catherine from him….
Wuthering Heights is a novel based on unrequited love and one man’s quest for revenge. This book details the tense goings on of Heathcliff and Cathy’s relationship and how society keeps them apart and segues into Heathcliff’s motive for revenge on Hindley. Eventually he attains his revenge and then repents for all he has done wrong to get it which eventually allows him to be with the one character in the text that he shows any sort of feeling towards. It is their relationship that builds this novel and is probably why this novel has come to be well loved by everyone.
It is the presentation of and connection to the character of Heathcliff that is the most intriguing part of this novel. He is presented as scruffy, unfortunate, cruel, an outsider and likened to the Devil but it is seems that no matter how badly and satanic that he is characterised as I still feel sympathy for him and could possibly argue that he is one of, if not the only character, that is wronged throughout the entire novel. He has no background and was brought into a family where no one knew him or understood him. After Mr Earnshaw dies, Hindley treats him horrifically and he seeks revenge for this which he devotes the rest of his life to. The way that Heathcliff hears and interprets Catherine’s speech of how she views him is unfortunate but is ultimately why he leaves and comes back as a better man, although his determination for revenge on Hindley overpowers his sense and reasoning.
Most of the narrative is viewed through Lockwood’s perspective of Nelly Dean’s account which leaves the reader with a heavily biased view of events. However, it is through Nelly’s naivety that Brontë can display her main thoughts and ideas and it is through Nelly that we learn of Cathy and Heathcliff’s love. Heathcliff falls in love with her almost as soon as he moves into live with the Earnshaw family and they become close friends through the opening chapters of the novel. However, Catherine chooses to reject Heathcliff and marry Edgar Linton for money instead but eventually Brontë is able to present the two lovers as soulmates that live together in eternity. This, she demonstrates through Heathcliff breaking into her coffin and laying with her. Not only is this one of the main Gothic scenes but it portrays this idea of Heathcliff’s true feelings wanting to be with Cathy forever in eternity.
Bronte’s nested narrative style is clever since we become so immersed in the story we forget who is actually speaking. And to think Nelly actually has a phenomenal memory! Although some will argue that the ending was a bit forced as Emily sought to create a happy ending, you can’t fault the beauty of the writing, the imagery, how the characters are carried throughout the novel. This is a masterpiece and I will highly recommend it.