Love is as tender as it is destructive. As destructive as lovers living under one roof, with nothing but violence for a father, despair for a mother and a home like the cold, dark and desolate moors.
Writers from the 1800s found a lot of inspiration from the moors of Yorkshire, take The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnet for example, published in 1911. Emily Bronte on the other hand, was inspired from what is now a crumbling farmhouse called the Top Withins in a village called Haworth. Back then the landscape was an endless sea of dried grass and twisted lifeless trees in harsh winters. The desolate lands were coloured with neutral warm browns and dull greens spotted with occasional jagged sharp rocks. But the winds, the winds is what you would never forget. Cold cutting winds enough to numb your very soul.
What can I say in this review that the ‘Introduction by S.E Hinton’ did not:
– ‘A love so fierce and intense it could be mistaken for a nightmare’
– ‘Location, location, location. This story could not have happened anywhere else. The desolate and dangerous moors (where the wind-warped trees bend ‘as if craving alms of the sun’).’
– ‘Extraordinary stories can take place in ordinary places, the wilderness can breed wild passions, and mild observers can witness the clash of Titans’ .
Above all, I have great admiration for the writer. She must have been quite daring to write such a story on the ill-fated love between Catherine and her adopted brother Heathcliffe in the 1840s. The love and gothic elements are a dangerous pair and she balanced the two perfectly. I enjoyed the character driven plot through out. Catherine was depicted as charming and delicate but with Heathcliffe she would be wild and free spirited. Heathcliffe though wild and unruly, his love for Catherine was genuine.
The book was interestingly balanced by its two narrators. The first narrator; Heathcliffe’s new tenant Lockwood was new to the isolation and oddity of the residents of Wuthering Heights. But it was Nelly Dean, the house keeper who added depth to the story. She wasn’t just the narrator but her own actions determined the love story itself. Her decisions to withhold information or report it, had a grave impact on the characters’ lives. As a house keeper she knew all their secrets and hence gave the story its true shape.
I also want to recognise this book for its satire. In the scene below, I laughed even long after I had closed the book:
“He seized her with the liberated hand, and, pulling her on his knee, administered one with the other, a shower of terrific slaps on both sides of her head, each sufficient to have fulfilled his threat, had she been able to fall……..The scene was over in 2 minutes, Catherine, released, put her two hands to her temples, and looked just as if she were not sure whether her ears were off or on………… “I know how to chastise children, you see,” said the scoundrel.”
So what made this book work? I think it was the balance of love and darkness. The happy yet unhappy ending enough to agonise any romantic reader. The wild tenderness, the painful heartbreak and the ferocious jealousy was in all the right places. I mean who wouldn’t love a romantic bad-boy protagonist yearning for unattainable love? An insufferable love affair that ends in sweet tragedy? Yet he never gave up, not even when it was too late, with his greed for power and vengeance he wished to attain that which can never be his.
Ending with one of my favourite quotes from this book:
“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”