Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review #12: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Introductory picture to tell you a bit of the story. Like the handsome man you're looking at that is Heathcliff (Ralph Fiennes), the story is dirty like the moors (not that kind of dirty), dark and brooding. The picture's misleading because Heathcliff is largely robbed off of tender words and caresses for his love. The place you're about to enter in the book is tumultuous. Abusive. Dark. Passionate. Violent. A bit shocking but still wonderful.

I. want. this.

What it is about:
In present day, a tenant named Mr. Lockwood chanced upon an eerie encounter in a room -- eerie is right, it creeped even myself. He wonders about the history of Wuthering Heights and the housekeeper Ellen "Nelly" Dean starts narrating the story of the place's inhabitants.

It is a story of  an "intense and almost demonic love" between Catherine and Heathcliff. Heathcliff is a boy found by Catherine's father. After old Mr. Earnshaw died, Heathcliff is repeatedly abused by Cathy's brother. He thought Cathy did not requite his love; he ran away from Wuthering Heights. He returns years later, wealthy and changed... only to bear vindictive and revengeful plans for all who've wronged him.

Ten Thoughts & Some Inevitable "Fan-Girling":

1. I've always liked the Bronte sisters' prose. It's highly readable, by no way is it dry or elaborately "made" like a Dickens novel, perhaps. The one thing is that the prose is always cluttered with punctuation. I see commas, periods, dashes everywhere -- they're constantly stalking each line! Not that that is the worst thing about a book.

2 . I'm familiar with the Bronte sisters and their tendency to be nothing but depressive and dark. This is especially so for this novel by Emily. I always find myself imagining cloudy skies. Can't do much about that, the sisters' brilliance lies on a moody, dark theme. However, their constant need to pressure me as a reader to bear their gothic elements frighten me. It's not so much the gothic ideas that scares me because I'm no chicken; rather, I'm afraid of what it will do to the characters.

3. Speaking of characters, I feel no sympathy for the characters whom Heathcliff ruined. I'm a bad person, aren't I. I'm not a great advocate for "an eye for an eye" but I felt no sympathy.

I'd rather you imagine him yourself like I did but he's the perfect Heathcliff. 
4. My favourite man of the moment: Heathcliff. It's impossible for me not to love or "fan-girl" over Heathcliff. He is perhaps the epitome of what I may call a "dangerously sexual" antihero. I cannot ignore how blatantly sexual he is, for a character in his time. He has thick, low brows, black hair, darkish skin. He's tall, athletic and handsome. I see why he can send female hearts a-flutter.

5. Of course, we tend of forget (or ignore) that he is a torrent of hatred, anger, pride, savagery and possessiveness. He's not your archetypal romantic hero; he's not the revered Darcy or your puny Edward Cullen. He's that boyfriend who'd accuse you to be his "murderer" but says at the same time that he "loves his murderer". He's the man who says: "the more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush out their entrails!"  So, when girls say that he will make the perfect boyfriend, they're joking, right? I think I'm one of the nutcases who actually desires a Heathcliff.

6. Although he's diabolical, you wonder if he's inherently "bad". Out of all the people he vouched to destroy, he has never meant to hurt Cathy, did he? He said as much, when he said that as long as Cathy desired Linton's company, he will not hurt a single hair of his head. To hurt him would be to hurt Cathy. Isn't that selfless -- albeit in a titillating/Heathcliff way? If he is capable to love Cathy with such fiery passion, then surely there's some good in him. There's no justifiable reasons for his vengeance but he was and still is deprived off whatever good's in the world.

7. Something I've noticed with Bronte's heroines, they're always so... whiny. Catherine is spoiled and melodramatic who's not only a fool, but a selfish fool. Perhaps if I was born in that time, and class and wealth were as important, I'd understand but right this instance, her anguish, anxiety and heartbreak are unfounded.

8.  It's common for cousins to marry each other in the past, I suppose, but these incestuous relationships are fucking disturbing.

9.  If let be, I may go round repeating myself so bottom line is: it's brilliant. It takes the idea of fatal romance to an excitingly dark level.

10. This is probably the most emotionally manipulating excerpt in the book. You must read and see:
“You teach me now how cruel you've been - cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? ..... ...... ...... You loved me - what right had you to leave me? What right - answer me - for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will did it. I have not broken your heart - you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you - Oh, God! would you like to lie with your soul in the grave?”

You simply must read this. Sadistically speaking, this novel is good for the soul. I can't believe Emily Bronte left us with one book. (245 pages) ★★★★★  

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