” If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he could not love you as much as I do in a single day” Heathcliff
Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature
Wuthering Heights is a story far too complex to be typecast in one specific genre.
Catherine Earnshaw’s father goes to town and instead of the gifts he had promised to bring, he brings along a dark boy of unknown origin. While introducing the boy to the family he says:
“See here, wife! I was never so beaten with anything in my life : but you must e’en take it as a gift of God; though it’s as dark almost as if it came from the devil.”
Even though the senior Mr. Earnshaw was fond of Heathcliff, he address him as “it” not a human but a thing. Also he says that the boy looks like he comes from the devil but should be treated like he is a gift of God. As the story unfolds, we see how right the old man was in his introduction when the housekeeper, Nelly, reads out Mrs. Isabella Heathcliff’s letter in which she writes:
‘I beseech you to explain what I have married…’
This shows that even she did not think of Heathcliff as a man.
Heathcliff looked like a hero, the traditional ‘tall, dark, handsome’ tag did apply to him. Still he was not a hero, neither was he a villain. He was just a man in love with a vengeance to avenge the wrongs of his childhood.
Catherine, on meeting Heathcliff becomes his ally and roams ‘wild in the moors’ with him, but when she is forced to stay at Linton’s place for some time, she is coaxed into being a lady. In Victorian era that was a goal of all to become ladies and lords. Even though she turns into a lady, on meeting Heathcliff after a long time, she immediately embraces him forgetting all her lady-like manners. Also, at one point of time she even announces to Nelly that ‘I am Heathcliff’ not to unsex herself but to point out that underneath all her sophistication she still is the same girl who loves to roam wild and free.
Catherine marries Edgar Linton so that she could get power and money to help Heathcliff while Heathcliff marries Isabella Linton to get her share of the estate. Even Catherine Linton is forcefully married to dying Linton so that Heathcliff can get his hands on her property. Essentially all the marriages that happen have convenience, power and money as a motive and not love.
Wuthering Heights, unlike any other classic, is a masterpiece in itself.
There have been various adaptations of it in form of documentaries and movies, some choose to omit the second generation while others remained loyal to the book. But none could touch the authenticity of the book itself.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars