◐ Book Name: Wuthering Heights
◐ Author: Emily Brontë
Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff grow up together in Wuthering Heights, forming a deep and unhealthy attachment. Their love threatens the lives and happiness of everyone around them.
◐ Review: 5/5 ⭐
How can any review possibly do justice to so timeless a book? What could I possibly say that has not already been said? Yet I shall endeavour my best.
Wuthering Heights is the first book I remember loving. I don’t remember now why it so captured my senses even at such a young age, but as you may recall me saying before, I have always been a person of deep feeling, and perhaps I related strongly to that aspect.
But whether you approve of the infamous Cathy-Heathcliff relationship or not, who can remain unmoved by such words as,
❝ 𝘏𝘦’𝘴 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘐 𝘢𝘮. 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘧, 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘦, ❞
a quote my beloved and I took for ourselves.
It is obsessive, codependent, and toxic. Let us not delude ourselves. Yet this obsession drives the book; Cathy and Heathcliff are like a cyclone, whipping everyone around them up into their frenzy without care for anyone else, wreaking destruction wherever they set their feet.
But let us speak no more of the doomed romance. Some other thoughts:
Emily Brontë’s descriptions of the moor is captivating, such that they swept me right into the heart of Yorkshire. It is just as dramatic as the main characters themselves.
The book is narrated by a servant, Nelly Dean, whom I had always imagined as a stout older woman, but who is instead the same age as Hindley Earnshaw, Cathy’s older brother. I don’t know how I managed to miss that all these years, but anyways. This changed my perspective quite a bit, as this places her in the same generation as our main cast, divesting of her of some supposed wisdom I had mistakenly attributed to her. During previous readings, while I had thought little of Nelly, this time around, I found her a downright irritating and woefully unreliable narrator.
I really appreciate the mirroring effect of the two Catherines. From Catherine Earnshaw to Catherine Heathcliff to Catherine Linton. Then her daughter, Catherine Linton, to Catherine Heathcliff, to Catherine Earnshaw. Seems to me a symbol of how the story comes full circle, in the way the second generation is redeemed and restored from the trauma of the first.
(On that note, I’ve seen my fair share of screen adaptations, none of which have been at all satisfactory. Among many of their flaws, most don’t bother telling the story past the first generation, and I consider that a travesty, as it is the second generation that gives greater meaning to the first. In fact, the second generation’s timeline takes up a greater portion of the book than the first, so harrumph to all the failed adaptions. I have yet to see one I approve of.)
As I have said previously, one of the aspects I really enjoy about Wuthering Heights is Emily’s description of the moors. Having grown up on the moor of Haworth, in a rather solitary upbringing, her love for its nature are seen clearly, yet she also does little to soften its harshness. And thus does she paint Heathcliff, that he, in a way, mirrors the moors. He is as harsh, and as merciless as the setting in which he is placed, further stripped of humanity in that no one knows where he comes from. As far as we know, he could indeed have sprung from the earth itself.
I love this book, not simply for the intense, insane love (for lack of a better word here) of Heathcliff and Cathy (which I both feel akin to, yet also repulsed by), but for the tragedy of Cathy, to have been born as wild as Heathcliff and the moor, yet to be forever torn between accepting her true nature and conforming to the expectations of society.
In contrast to hers and Heathcliff’s love, her daughter and Hareton’s relationship arises at a more gradual pace, as they grow from scornful enemies (as Heathcliff intended for them), to lovers standing upon a foundation of mutual respect and the desire to become better for each other. Perhaps not as thrilling, nor as captivating as, “He is more myself than I,” but far healthier, surer.
That, I believe, is what finally broke Heathcliff. As the narrator repeatedly observes that Heathcliff sees Cathy in both her daughter and Hareton, to see them then love each other in spite of his best efforts to sow hatred, utterly defeats him. Perhaps he also has a tiny shred of humanity, that he sees in them what he ought to have shared with Cathy long before, had the world left them be.
And of course, this review is now overlong, though in fact, I did write a fifty-page analysis of this book for my senior paper in high school, so this is nothing in comparison.
Still, I will conclude. This book is beautifully worded, captivating in every sense. I found I read it straight through without having to alternate with any other “easier” read. It is one of those books I can read a thousand times and still find something new to mull over each time.
My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.
If all else perished and 𝒉𝒆 remained, 𝙄 should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger; I should not seem a part of it.
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
I 𝒂𝒎 Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.
The thing that irks me most is this shattered prison, after all. I’m tired, tired of being enclosed here. I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there: not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart; but really with it, and in it.
I shall love mine yet; and take him with me: he’s in my soul.
I have not broken your heart—𝒚𝒐𝒖 have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine… . Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you — oh God, would 𝒚𝒐𝒖 like to live with your soul in the grave?
Haunt me, then! … Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! Only 𝒅𝒐 not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I 𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒕 live without my life! I 𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒕 live without my soul!
For what is not connected with her to me? and what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped in the flags! In every cloud, in every tree—filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day—I am surrounded with her image! … The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!
If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years as I could in a day.