How it all starts
So, what does a just heartbroken 12th-grade girl read? No.. Sorry, not Wuthering Heights.
She reads Eclipse: The Twilight Saga 3, something that reinstates her belief in love being the greatest feeling of the world. And if you are someone who has read Eclipse, you know where I am going with this.
So, what happens is…Edward, in a conversation with Bella, says something along the lines of, Wuthering Heights not being a love story but a hate story. He continues that no character has any redeeming quality and Bella replies to it by saying… Love is their only redeeming quality.
So, the young teenage girl picks up this book on recommendation from a favourite fictional character.
You will know what Stephanie Meyer meant when she said that love was their only redeeming quality when you read the book and I hope you do because you have never truly understood love if you haven’t read this book. So, I, on behalf of BookArt101, without further ado, present to you the book review of this hate-love story, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
Surficial Gist of Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is a story of Catherine Earnshaw, also called Cathy and Heathcliff. It is their story of growing up in each other’s presence and love. It is a story of their togetherness, love, friendship, knowledge of each other’s heart and their separation. It is a story of suffering when love goes wrong. It is a story of a life-less lived.
The Elephant in the Room
Before we go any farther, let’s address the controversies that surround the novel. Some think it is an incestuous story and for some, it is not a love story but a mad or sick man’s obsession story. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But what I feel, I have written in this book review of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
There are two scenes that I am going to describe that should purge the novel of all the allegations that are hurled on it for me, at least.
In a conversation, Cathy says, “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of and mine are the same” Cathy doesn’t seem to care about what the souls are made of but she cares that whatever it was they both shared it.
Heathcliff, in the starting of the novel, is seen beckoning to Catherine’s ghost to show herself to him. He is maddened by the fact that she will visit anyone who comes to her room but Heathcliff. Loving someone so much that you ask them to show themself even if it is in the form of a ghost. So, you see a tortured Heathcliff, addressing an empty window that opens to the grave of Cathy, to come and see him:
“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 can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!”
The novel is utter madness. After Catherine dies, Heathcliff becomes a mad man and hurts everyone around him. Cathy too, is not a perfect heroine. We are not dealing with another Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy here, if that is what you were thinking about. Cathy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights are two entirely flawed characters: Jealous, Conceited, Selfish, Hateful and Blind. But yes, to quote Meyer here, “Their love is their only redeeming quality” None of the other characters have the gravitas to be mentioned in the same line as Cathy and Heathcliff. A dead Cathy is a stronger character than many living who are just a shadow in the novel.
The novel is narrated by an unreliable narrator. There are instances where page after page, you are bored to death by Brontë’s writing. The novel has detailed descriptions of the marshes and the overall scenery of the villages of that time much like any other novelist of that age. But what stands out (Serious Spoiler Alert) is that Wuthering Heights is not just Catherine’s home. It is a character in itself. People only live and act as long as they are in the vicinity of Wuthering Heights. Outside of that, their life seems to be insignificant.
What I love about the novel is how cleverly Emily Brontë has written the conflict of the novel in the initial pages of the novel. When a character reads the names from Cathy’s bedroom and journals as Catherine, Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Earnshaw Linton and Catherine Heathcliff. It’s amazing how the whole novel can be traced back to the words in the first few pages. Also, the name Cathy will choose, will decide the fate of other characters in the novel.
Why read Wuthering Heights?
So, why would a reviewer who has criticised the writer’s narrator, her writing style and just written about so many flaws would want you to read it?
Here is the thing about Wuthering Heights: If you know anything about passion, you will love it.
You will love their love, even if it ends up destroying them. Heathcliffe takes out the dead body of Cathy and has it buried beside the space where his grave is supposed to be. He literally disrespects her grave. But underneath all of this is a strand of passion. Some people get what it feels like to want something and do something to get it no matter what it takes away from you. It will cause destruction, that is a given but would it be worth it. It is not important for this to be taken as a passion for another person, it can as easily be a passion for a hobby or work or anything else.
If you understand love, passion and accept that something as strong as love can take on a negative turn, and can be devastating and disastrous. You will love the novel. You might hate Cathy or love her. You might hate Heathcliff or pity him but you can’t ignore them. The novel will teach you very closely how intricately placed the bonds of love and hate are and the energy they can fuel you with.
I take your leave with a quote from Brontë’s Wuthering Heights that has always stood as a test, if I loved someone or not. If I answered to my honest heart as yes, I would never let go and if the answer was no, I backed out. I hope it brings you as much clarity as it always brings me.
“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.”
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If you enjoyed this review you will also enjoy our review of Vikram Seth’s – A Suitable Boy, here.