On Reading Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is quite a story. Whereas with Lorna Doone I struggled with every sentence, I hardly want to put Wuthering Heights down, it's so dark and moody and intriguing. I'm about to chapter 11 . . . Heathcliffe has just returned after being absent for 3 years to find Catherine married to Edgar Linton. Her exuberance over Heathcliffe's return has already raised some issues with her husband (can't imagine WHY!)
Having never seen a film version in its entirety other than the 1939 version starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, I'm sketchy on the details of the ending. The 1939 version skipped a great deal, resulting in a cleaned-up, nicer version of the story and of Heathcliffe. I know it doesn't end well in reality, that's just a given for this story, but it's interesting reading a classic where I'm not 100% sure of the plot twists.
Things that have already jumped out at me are:
1) Catherine is a spoiled brat and I dislike her intensely. There really is nothing nice to say about her AT ALL. She doesn't treat her husband right or her servants or just about anybody, even her father. The only person she ever treated right or appeared to genuinely love was Heathcliffe, but what a love! Passionate and obsessive and quite a bit terrifying.
2) Heathcliffe has no soft edges. There is nothing kindly or redeemable about him, making him very different from Mr. Rochester who, even though I have yet to read Jane Eyre, I've always liked in the film versions.
3) It's fascinating that the story is told from Ellen's perspective as a memory. It makes for a very intriguing narrative and it makes me wonder how truthful of a narrator she is since she isn't inside anyone else's head but her own. She could be an unreliable narrator of Heathcliffe and Catherine so it raises the question of whether they were like my above descriptions of them or if they weren't as bad as she made them out to be. How good was her memory and who kindly was she intending to be in her depiction of them to Mr. Lockwood?
|So says Marlon Brando, one of my favorite actors of all time.|
Have you read Wuthering Heights? If so, what are your thoughts on it?
I'm enjoying it, if enjoying is the right word, far more than I imagined possible. Not because I like the characters because I really don't, but because the story fascinates me. It torments and grieves the reader in countless ways.
My personal copy has a label on the back that says it is one of the most unforgettable romances of all time. I disagree. That would be like calling Romeo & Juliet a romance instead of a tragedy. Perhaps it could be a romantic tragedy, but for Wuthering Heights, Heathcliffe and Cathy are tearing themselves apart with this obsession that can't be quenched. There is nothing romantic in their inevitable demise, only sorrow.
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