Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë
Dover Publications, 1996 (First published in 1847)
ISBN: 978-0486292564
256 p.p.

Watching The Proposal initially struck an interest to reading Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights since the beautifully heartless Margaret—portrayed by Sandra Bullock—stated she read it every year before Christmas.

Brontë has a way with words that pull on your heart strings. With the various techniques she uses throughout the novel, she creates a world that seems to never end. I see why Margaret stated it was her favorite book.

Wuthering Heights was considered shocking by mid-19th-century standards. Victorian society found the book inappropriate in its depiction of passionate, ungoverned love and cruelty. It was seen as a publishing risk, therefore Brontë was asked to pay some of the publication costs. Brontë thought her only novel was a failure.

The novel proved to be one of the most enduring classics of English literature.

The various unforgettable characters make up the core of Wuthering Heights. Brontë does an amazing job of bringing her characters to life with her vivid descriptions. The novel centers on the story of Heathcliff. The beginning of the novel provides a vivid physical description of Heathcliff as described by Lockwood, a newcomer to the manor. After a visit to his strange landlord, Lockwood asks his housekeeper, Nelly Dean, to tell him the story of Heathcliff and of Wuthering Heights. Nelly agrees, and Lockwood writes down his recollections of her tale in his diary—the main part of Wuthering Heights.

Understanding Heathcliff is a motivation to keep reading the novel. He is quite a complex character; His passion for Catherine is the strongest and most lasting emotion displayed in the novel. It is the main source of conflict in the plot and their love is based upon their refusal to change over time or embrace difference in others.

Wuthering Heights is not based on a fairytale-like love story; rather, it is based more on reality. It is a swirling tale of unlikeable people caught up in obsessive love that turns to darkness. The turbulent love story of Catherine and Heathcliff spans two generations. It is told through flashbacks recorded in diary entries, and events are often presented out of chronological order. The novel contains enough clues to enable a reconstruction of its chronology, which was elaborately designed by the author.

Brontë organizes her novel by arranging its elements, the characters, places, and themes into pairs. Catherine and Heathcliff are closely matched in many ways and see themselves as identical. The novel has not one, but two distinctly different narrators: Nelly and Mr. Lockwood. Repetition is another tactic that Brontë employs in organizing her novel. Time seems to run in cycles and the horrors of the past repeat themselves in the present. Symbols such as ghosts appear throughout the novel, which is a great example of Gothic fiction. Brontë presents them in such a way that causes the reader to question if they even exist.

This novel has been analyzed, dissected, and discussed from every imaginable critical perspective, yet it remains unexhausted. Wuthering Heights presents a vision of life as a process of change and celebrates this process over and against the romantic intensity through Catherine and Heathcliff’s characters. Brontë’s use of symbolism and language make the novel what it is today, but its popularity rests on its unforgettable characters that live on even beyond the pages of the novel.

***

Emily BronteEmily Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England on July 30, 1818. She is best known for authoring the novel Wuthering Heights under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. She was the sister of Charlotte and Anne Brontë, also famous authors. The sisters enjoyed writing poetry and novels, which they published under androgynous pseudonyms to avoid the prejudice associated with female writers. Female authors were often treated less seriously than their male counterparts in the nineteenth century. Wuthering Heights is her only published novel, which has been acclaimed a masterpiece of imaginative fiction. Brontë died December 19, 1848, at the age of thirty.

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