So. Wuthering Heights. I’ve really been trying to embrace some classic fiction in an attempt to broaden my literary horizons. Rather than, you know, reading books I know I’ll enjoy. I took on this novel thinking that I’d hate it but I actually I quite liked it, even if it has increased my urge to hang out on the moors, embroil myself in a disturbing love triangle and die seemingly of self imposed madness.
I’ve read a lot about how detestable people find Heathcliff and Catherine. I can see where they’re coming from but I also feel like the novel relies on the main characters being terrible people. Fortunately, (unlike the main characters) most of us have the morale eptitude to not allow our feeling to entirely govern our behaviour. This novel examines what could happen if we allowed our worst urges to drive us. I don’t think it would be half as successful if any of the characters took a moment to consider how their behaviour affects others.
Having said that, the way that Catherine plays out her own melodrama does take on some tedium as the novel progresses. Heathcliff is the absolute worst. He personifies obsession and control and as a result I definitely wouldn’t categorize him a romantic anti-hero. If anything he’s fairly terrifying. The sociopathic tendencies run deep with him and some of the events later in the novel really tests the suspension of disbelief. Surely, even in the olden days, there’s some kind of recourse?
I liked the fact that the narrator is Mr Lockwood (Heathcliff’s tenant,) but the story is told from the rememberance of Nelly who worked for the two families involved. This style gives both intimacy and distance, we can’t accept the account as factual as it’s interwoven with Nelly’s interpretation and prejudices. This adds to the mysticism & superstition which is integral to the overall feel of the novel.
My lasting impression is that this book is a passionate account of the darkest side of human emotion. It isn’t without its drawbacks, but I prefer this terrarium of a novel over any of the other fiction I’ve read from this period. I’d say for 300 pages it’s worth the read.
How did you find it?
What’s your favourite Classic?