Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Genre: Gothic novel
Theme: The enduring love between Catherine and Heathcliff, the desire, hate, revenge and regret in family and how it eventually destroys their lives and the lives of those around them.
Is it a darkly passionate tale of love? Or should we call it a highly original gothic story? Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is a classic novel and in my opinion, a gripping blend of these genres. Written in 1847, the novel is an epic family saga full of desire, hate, revenge and regret. The atmospheric setting of the wild Yorkshire Moors cleverly mirrors all these violent emotions.
When Catherine’s father adopts the starving orphan boy Heathcliff, Catherine’s brother Hindley feels deeply hurt and resentful. She, on the other hand, develops an immensely strong bond with Heathcliff, which becomes an all consuming love. Upon her father’s death, Hindley becomes the head of the family and forces Heathcliff to assume the position of a servant. Despite loving Heathcliff, Catherine chooses to marry Edgar Linton, who is closer to her class and position in society. It is this decision which leads to heartbreak and tragedy, not only for them but for many others.
Heathcliff could be described as an anti-hero with his rough manners and lack of control. Likewise, Catherine displays many flaws, but the readers can still empathize with these characters. In fact, this is the main reason why I believe this novel is so brilliant. It rings with truth. The reader may be horrified at the way that Heathcliff and Catherine behave, and yet, at the same time, the writer ensures that we never hate them because the reasons for their actions are crystal clear.
The main part of the book relies on a narrator, Ellen Dean, who is a servant at Wuthering Heights and I think that this is a useful device which holds the complex plot together. However, Wuthering Heights is not what I would call an ‘easy read’. There is dense description and some of the dialogue is written in dialect, which can be difficult to follow.
Nevertheless, I persevered and, all in all, I can highly recommend Wuthering Heights. I challenge you to remain unmoved after reading this exceptional book.
[This piece of writing is from OALD Eighth Edition]