“I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.” Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights. My old pal, my confidant, my introduction to the gothic, and the reason for my lifelong friendship with Emily Brontë herself. I first read this novel when I was around 14. I hadn’t read many classics then, so my mind was blown to discover this book. I think what I liked most about this book was that it was written by a woman, it was dark, and the love story was so twisted that it revolutionised what I thought a romantic story could look like.
When I read it as a young teenager, Heathcliff was my everything. The quiet, brooding, distant man. Swoons. I completely overlooked the fact that this man was damaged, violent and frankly, very scary. My younger, teenage brain, couldn’t fathom the fact that Cathy marries Edgar. What?! The kind, rich, dependable, loving man? Boooring. But having read the novel again recently, I found myself switching camps. Edgar is the real deal isn’t he. The man that Cathy should have been with all along. But why is Heathcliff still so appealing to the reader? Why do we like the grumpy Mr. Rochester’s of the world and the overtly rude Mr. Darcy’s, when the Edgar Linton’s are patiently waiting on the sidelines, with a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers. Why do we do this to ourselves?
The way that Cathy cries out ‘I AM HEATHCLIFF!’ shocked me when I read it first. I was so used to the decorum and manners found in Austen land (no shade Jane, just a mere fact). So when Cathy speaks and shouts with such sincerity, it really stands out. It’s a shame that Cathy is made out to be crazy in these scenes, when in reality, she is just speaking her mind. I’d like to think that things have changed since then, but who knows?
Despite its darkness and violence, the book still manages to find warmth, through its part-time narrator, Nelly Dean. The nanny of the home, and the comforter of the reader, this character endeavours to guide the characters and the narrative through some frightful decades. Set in the perilous Yorkshire moors, the weather often reflects the mood of the story. Though Cathy finds freedom in her surroundings, she eventually finds herself cooped up in Edgar’s house, Thrushcross Grange. She chooses the finer life and its inevitable confinements. Thus, each time I read this timeless novel, it serves as a constant reminder to choose the wild life, the road less travelled and the moors… always the moors!
By now, it will be unsurprising that I’m also a Kate Bush fan. Her rendition of Wuthering Heights similarly fascinated me as a kid. The ghostly melody captured me and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. But I will write about my Kate Bush admiration in another post!
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of this book. My only wish is that Emily had the time to write another. I remember finding out that we share a first and middle name, Emily Jane. I proudly (and falsely) used to tell people that I was named after her. But we share a name, and I will be forever grateful that I opened that book all those moons ago.
Thank you Emily.
Over and Out.