Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Book Review of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Author: Emily Bronte
Type of book: British, 1700s-1802, interracial romance, curse, all in family, supernatural, soul-mates
Year it was published: 1847 (version I have 1983)
"My great thought in living is Heathcliff. If all else perished, and HE remained, I should still continue to be...Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure...but as my own being."
WUTHERING HEIGHTS is the only novel of Emily Bronte, who died a year after its publication at teh age of thirty. A brooding Yorkshire tale of a love that is stronger than death, it is also a fierce vision of metaphysical passion, in which heaven and hell, nature and society, and dynamic and passive forces are powerfully juxtaposed. Unique, mystical, with a timeless appeal, it has become a classic of English literature.
For me personally, all the characters are not likable. I felt sorry for Heathcliff, and couldn't really blame him for becoming the way he was. Nelly or Ellen Dean also frustrated me that she refuses to give more insight into Heathcliff's mind, and it also seems that they all written to be knocked down so to speak. I couldn't find anything to like about Catherine, and no matter how many times I have read the book, I can't understand her at all. I didn't understand the reason to continue this story onto the second generation of the daughter and the sons, although the second Catherine is a little more understanding and likable than her mother.
True love never dies.
It will be a confusing read and its not because it was written in 1840s, but in fact its the structure and the way it's set up: we first begin with Mr. Lockwood who comes over to Wuthering Heights and he talks in first person point of view. Later on he gets injured and Nelly begins to entertain him, who is also in first place narrative. Sometimes there's slight confusion between who's talking, especially when a few times without warning, Nelly makes a remark to Lockwood, and he to her. Despite the confusion, there is something about this book that will keep one coming back to read it, at least in my case. It's not the best novel I've read or touched, yet its not the worst. Its difficult to explain.
Emily Jane Bronte was the most solitary member of a unique, tightly knit, English provincial family. Born in 1818, she shared the parsonage of the town of Haworth, Yorkshire, with her older sister, Charlotte, her brother, Branwell, her younger sister, Anne and her father, the Rev. Patrick Bronte. All five were poets and writers; all but Branwell would publish at least one book.
Fantasy was the Bronte children's one relief from the rigors of religion and the bleakness of life in an impoverished region. They invented a whole series of imaginary kingdoms and constructed a whole library of journals, stories, poems, and plays around their inhabitants. Emily's special province was a kingdom she called Gondal, whose romantic heroes and exiles owed much to the poems of Byron.
Brief stays at several boarding schools were the sum of her experiences outside Haworth, until 1842, when she entered a school in Brussels with her sister Charlotte. After a year of study and teaching there, they felt qualified to announce the opening of a school in their own home, but could not atract a single pupil.
In 1845 Charlotte Bronte came across a manuscript volume of her sister's poems. She knew at once, she later wrote, htat they were "not at all like the poetry women generally write...they had a peculiar music-wild, melancholy, and elevating." At her sister's urging, Emily's poems, along with Anne's and CHarlotte's, were published psedonymously in 1846. An almost complete silence greeted this volume, but the three sisters, buoyed by the fact of publicaton, immediately began to write novels. Emily's effort was Wuthering Heights; appearing whose Jane Eyre had already been published to great acclaim. Emily Bronte's name did not emerge from behind her pseudonym of Ellis Bell until the second edition of her novel appeared in 1850.
In the meantime, tragedy had struck the Bronte family. In September of 1848 Branwell had succumbed to a life of dissipation. By December, after a brief illness, Emily too was dead; her sister Anne would die the next year. Wuthering Heights, Emily's only novel, was just beginning to be understood as the wild and singular work of genius that it is. "Stronger than a man," wrote Charlotte, "simpler than a child, her nature stood alone."
I am drawn to this novel and I frequently re-read, somehow trying to understand it, or else trying to get something from it that I'm unable to. It has a strange yet beautiful love story, and I think its also kind of a first interracial love story. (Heathcliff and Catherine.) In all honesty it was very difficult for me to understand their love, beside the fact that it both transcends time and death. I also see this as kind of awareness of strangers. Basically the families in the book, the Earnshaws and Lintons are incredibly sheltered and perhaps they represent England of old. When Catherine's father brings back Heathcliff, he basically introduces a foreigner into the family, and the reader watches as Heathcliff falls in love with Catherine, and despite the mutual consent by both, Catherine cruelly rejects him, thus causing him misery. In the end, the foreign aspect doesn't survive and instead becomes swallowed up by the majority culture. I also felt very sorry for Heathcliff, especially the characters' constant references to his devilish visage.
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)