Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights
By Emily Bronte
Release Date: 1847
Source: Barnes & Noble
Summary: 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.

Review: When I first read this my junior year of high school, all I remember was how much I absolutely adored the book. Four years later, though, I had forgotten the feeling of that magic held between these pages. I finally had to the chance to reread this tragic romance for my book club, and I could not have loved it more. 

The night that Catherine's father brought home the little boy they named Heathcliff, nothing at Wuthering Heights would ever be the same. Growing up together, Catherine and Heathcliff fall deeply in love, but life and social restrictions force them to face reality. Catherine must listen to the rules of class, and those rules don't involve Heathcliff. Damaged from the constant social stigma, Heathcliff grows to be a dangerous, brooding man who has no room in his heart for love. As Catherine and Heathcliff grow up, the children of the next generation follow in their parents footsteps, facing the same tragedy and heartbreak that seems to be trapped within the walls of Wuthering Heights. 

Oh, the heartbreak. The absolute, utter heartbreak in this novel. The romance and relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff is so strong, but life could never let them live happily together. I loved Heathcliff in the beginning, and as much as I want to keep on loving him, life turns him into a cold, heartless creature that I detest by the end. The fact that Emily Bronte is able to manipulate the reader's emotions like that towards one of her characters, though, shows how truly talented she is in creating such complex characters. 

Other than the characters and their elaborate relationships with each other, I loved the setup of this novel. It's so interesting how the intimate details of these people is being relayed by the maid, that we forget the person receiving this information has barely spoken two words to the people he comes to know very intimately, far more intimate than mere acquaintances should know each other. Also, the novel is divided between Catherine, Heathcliff, and Edgar's story, and the story of their children Cathy, Hareton, and Linton. The children resemble their parents so much, and their relationships with each other become just as complex and tragic. 

While the relationships and characters are tragic in this novel, I can't help but fall madly in love with the complexity of the story. The romances are just so heartbreaking and intense. Four years later, and Wuthering Heights managed to blow me away yet again. Still at the top of my all-time favorite novels, Wuthering Heights is a romance thwarted by life and expectations, and everyone simply must read it at least once in their lives.

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