This is my favorite book. I do not say that lightly - I've read quite a lot from all different genres - but this is my favorite book. Of all time. Ever. The ladies over at The Readventurer kindly allowed me to get my feelings of utter adoration for Wuthering Heights off my chest in their "Year of the Classics" feature, but I now realize it's time I posted a little something in this blank review space. I mean, come on, it's my favorite book so it deserves better than empty nothingness.
So, what do I love so much about Wuthering Heights? Everything. Okay, maybe not. That wouldn't really be saying it strongly enough.
What I love about this novel is the setting; the wilderness. This is not a story about niceties and upper class propriety. This is the tale of people who aren't so socially acceptable, who live away from the strict rules of civilization - it's almost as if they're not quite from the world we know. The isolation of the setting out on the Yorkshire moors between the fictional dwellings of The Heights and Thrushcross Grange emphasizes how far removed these characters are from social norms, how unconventional they are, and how lonely they are.
This is a novel for readers who can appreciate unlikeable characters; readers who don't have to like someone to achieve a certain level of understanding of them and their circumstances. People are not born evil... so what makes them that way? What torments a man so much that he refuses to believe he has any worth? What kind of person digs up the grave of their loved one so they can see them once again? Heathcliff was not created to be liked or to earn your forgiveness. Emily Brontë simply tells his story from the abusive and unloved childhood he endured, to his obsession with the only person alive who showed him any real kindness, to his adulthood as an angry, violent man who beats his wife and imprisons the younger Cathy in order to make her marry his son.
It would be so easy to hate Heathcliff, and I don't feel that he is some dark, sexy hero like others often do. But I appreciate what Emily Brontë attempts to teach us about the cycle of violence and aggression. Heathcliff eventually becomes little more than the man he hates. By being brought up with beatings and anger he in turn unleashes it on everyone else. And Cathy is no delicate flower either. What hope did Heathcliff have when the only person he ever loved was so selfish and vindictive? But I love Emily Brontë for creating such imperfect, screwed-up characters.
This is a dark novel that deals with some very complicated people, but I think in the end we are offered the possibility of peace and happiness through Cathy (younger) and Hareton's relationship, and the suggestion that Cathy (older) and Heathcliff were reunited in the afterlife. I had an English teacher in high school that said Cathy and Heathcliff's personalities and their relationship were too much for this world and that peace was only possible for them in the next. I have no idea if this was something Ms Bronte intended, but the romantic in me likes to imagine that it's true.