Engulfing ourselves in a romantic novel is a great way to escape from the stresses and demands of life. There are thousands of romantic novels on our book shelves but for us a timeless classic such as Wuthering Heights is up there amongst the best. Let's take a more in depth look at this superb read that has been the subject matter of plays, films, documentaries and even a number one pop song for decades.
Wuthering Heights is a classic novel from one of the famous Bronte sisters that tells a story of passion and love set against the 19th century backdrop of the bleak rolling Yorkshire moors. Heathcliff, the hero of the story is rescued as a boy from the streets of Liverpool by the Earnshaw family.
Along with Catherine and Hindley, the two Earnshaw children, Heathcliff becomes an integral part of the family. When the master of the house dies things change drastically for Heathcliff as Hindley takes over and condemns Heathcliff to being far less than the cared for brother old Mr Earnshaw had made him. Heathcliff decides to leave in order to make his own fortune and return to show Cathy what a success he has become.
Heathcliff and Cathy have a tempestuous relationship, while both are deeply in love with one another. This obsessive love brings forward pettiness and jealousy with our hero and heroine portrayed as spiteful self-centred beings and yet we grow to love them more and more as the story unfolds due to the excellent writing of Emily Bronte, the author.
These two young people are so in love but they ultimately marry other people, why? This is due to selfishness plus the fact that both parties are too stubborn to admit to their true feelings, while hurting each other seems to bring them a real sense of triumph. Cathy marries neighbour Edgar Linton for status and all the trappings he can give her, while Heathcliff out of spite marries Edward's sister.
The brooding and dangerous Heathcliff is distraught when Cathy dies in childbirth and cannot live with the prospect of existing without her. Even though the ending is tragic readers get a sense of the two star crossed lovers coming together with love conquering all, even death.
The final scene in the novel sees Heathcliff and Cathy together walking on the misty moors after Heathcliff has died. Wuthering Heights is a bitter sweet tale that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so. The book is available from Penguin Classics along with other Bronte classics and is a must read for those who love this genre.
Why has Wuthering Heights Stood the Test of Time?
Emily Bronte was one of six children born in the early 1800's who are famous for their literary works. Writing poetry and novels became second nature, especially to the girls, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. The ladies lived in Haworth West Yorkshire for much of their lives along with their father who was the village parson and their brother Branwell who was also famed for his writing and drawing although in later years it was alcohol that would become his downfall.
Many of the Novels written by the Bronte sisters, including Wuthering Heights are still popular today. Classics such as Jayne Eyre written by Charlotte and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall written by Anne have also been made into plays and films. We are intrigued by the Bronte's, while Haworth their home village is a popular tourist attraction.
The ladies hold a fascination for us all that maybe can be described as romantic in nature as we imagine what life was like for the sisters all those years ago. Much of their writing inspiration was drawn from people they knew plus places familiar to them such as the Yorkshire Moors. Thruscross Grange is said to be based on Ponden Hall located near Haworth that the sisters often visited.
Wuthering Heights is filled with so many emotions most of which we can all identify with in some way or another. Feelings of Jealously, revenge, passion, unrequited love, social inequality and depression all feature in the story and are as relevant today as they were all those centuries ago. The book also shows how obsessive love can be destructive.
All that said we think this novel is still a firm favourite as ultimately we all love a well written romantic novel. The world loves historical drama too and Wuthering Heights is just that! A dramatic book created by the feelings and experiences of the author whose imagination painted a picture of wild passionate love set in a passionate landscape, that actually exists, with two strong central characters, makes Wuthering Heights one of the all-time literary greats.
Heathcliff one of the main characters in Wuthering Heights is a handsome, tortured, damaged soul whose passion for revenge and the love of his life Cathy lead to death and destruction. Even though Heathcliff has many bad traits that in real life we would not accept we cannot help but want him to succeed and win the hand of his one true love.
This complicated character swaps from hero to villain and back again over and again throughout the novel but ultimately we remain on his side. We give Heathcliff our support when he returns a gentlemen after making his fortune and even overlook his weaknesses and in some cases evil ways. Heathcliff is a complex handsome character who has been dealt a raw deal that affects him for the rest of his life. The fact that he gets what he craves after death gives us all hope that death is indeed not the end of the story for any of us!
Catherine Earnshaw doesn't want to love Heathcliff but she can't help herself and there lies her problem as Heathcliff cannot offer her the comforts of life she craves. Heathcliff does however offer Cathy passionate wild love and excitement something she cannot deny attracts her.
Cathy does indeed die half way through the novel but her spirit lives on and she remains an integral part of the story until the very end. A beautiful free spirit who is also spoiled, condescending and even childish, readers still engage with Cathy in a favourable way and will her to be with Heathcliff and follow her heart.
Cathy died long before the story begins and all the way through we wish she could return from beyond the grave. On her deathbed she speaks of her childhood and the times of abandon spent with Heathcliff on the moor although she did have some affection for her husband Edgar. Who did she love the most Heathcliff or Edgar? That is for the reader to contemplate. We think ultimately it was Heathcliff and this story of unrequited love is therefore the reason why Wuthering Heights is one of the all-time classic romantic stories.