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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wuthering Heights - Emily Jane Brontë

First published in 1847, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights ranks high on the list of major works of English literature. A brooding tale of passion and revenge set in the Yorkshire moors, the novel has inspired no fewer than four film versions in modern times. Early critics did not like the work, citing its excess of passion and its coarseness. A second edition was published in 1850, two years after the author’s death. Sympathetically prefaced by her sister Charlotte, it met with greater success, and the novel has continued to grow in stature ever since. In the novel a pair of narrators, Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Dean, relate the story of the foundling Heathcliff’s arrival at Wuthering Heights, and the close-knit bond he forms with his benefactor’s daughter, Catherine Earnshaw. One in spirit, they are nonetheless social unequals, and the saga of frustrated yearning and destruction that follows Catherine’s refusal to marry Heathcliff is unique in the English canon. The novel is admired not least for the power of its imagery, its complex structure, and its ambiguity, the very elements that confounded its first critics. Emily Brontë spent her short life mostly at home, and apart from her own fertile imagination, she drew her inspiration from the local landscape—the surrounding moorlands and the regional architecture of the Yorkshire area—as well as her personal experience of religion, of folklore, and of illness and death. Dealing with themes of nature, cruelty, social position, and indestructibility of the spirit, Wuthering Heights has surpassed the more successful Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre in academic and popular circles.
The love story between Heathcliff and Catherine forms the crust of Wuthering Heights. A love story not tender but rather ferocious one.Wuthering Heights is an intense Gothic romantic fiction.How dark can a character get? Dark enough to influence the tone of whole tale by his own existence. That’s what Heathcliff’s character does to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff’s tortured and frustrated emotion called ’’Love’’ for Catherine expresses itself in his cruel acts. Catherine’s character is nothing but a mirror image of that of Heathcliff’s. She is as wild and fierce as Heathcliff can be. At one point in the book, Catherine speaks about Heathcliff, ’’...he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same...’’ This explains the bond between the two protagonists. Wuthering Heights comes as a dark and brooding tale of love lost and regained. Author Emily Bronte creates mystic atmosphere around her characters. She creates stubborn characters and how their stubborness creeps on their relationship and eventually this very stubborness kills them. However the reader feels an array of emotions for the central characters. One likes them, pities them, hates them and mourns for the same characters. The climax of the book is somehow dual. It sees end of two wild lives but the end of their lives starts their afterlife together. In the same way as Catherine and Heathcliff’s character’s don’t undergo changes, young Cathy and Hareton change themselves for love and defy the stubbornness that left Heathcliff and Catherine thirsty for love. Somehow the end of this dark book turns out to be a happy one. Happy for the souls who meet after death as well as the young couple who through out the book, never seemed to even distantly like each other.

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