Monday, January 11, 2016

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I remember some folks chatting about the great romantic stories and how they wished they could have a Mr. Darcy or a Heathcliff. I read Pride and Prejudice and didn't want a Mr. Darcy. I finished Wuthering Heights and now believe that if anyone wants a Heathcliff, they might be a sociopath or have terribly terribly terribly low self-esteem.

I listened to this book through Craftlit, which I highly recommend. Heather Ordover is excellent at the commentary and pointing out pieces that you might miss and the reader (Ruth Golding) from Librivox is just amazing. So, start there.

We start off with Lockwood coming to Thrushcross Grange to rent for a spell. He meets his landlord, Heathcliff, at Wuthering Heights and is pretty much repelled by his manner and the manner of the people in the house. Thankfully, once Lockwood is back at Thrushcross Grange, the servant there, Nelly Dean, is a bit of a gossip and was the servant at Wuthering Heights in the past. And she is more than willing to talk.

From here until nearly the ending, we're on Nelly's turf. As Heather points out in the audio commentary, Nelly is an unreliable narrator. True, she was there, but anyone who tells a tale that they are greatly involved in tend to lean towards favoritism, either making themselves out to be better than they really were or making the people they despise out to be worse than they were. We may not be able to entirely trust Nelly's tale but we dive in anyway.

Young Heathcliff was brought to Wuthering Heights as an orphan child by Mr. Earnshaw. Earnshaw already has a son, Hindley, and a daughter Catherine. It's believed that Heathcliff is a Gypsy child and immediately is disliked and, for all intents and purposes, abused. Catherine and Heathcliff grow very close even as Catherine tends to mock him and make fun (she is a bit of a mean-spirit). Hindley despises Heathcliff more and more and this will turn almost psychotic in the end.

Briefly, the father dies, Hindley takes over Wuthering Heights with his wife and new son, Hareton, Catherine marries Edgar Linton and Heathcliff disappears for a while. Catherine and Edgar have a daughter, named Cathy.

Heathcliff's love for Catherine never diminishes, although I think his sanity does.  This is a rolling story where Heathcliff tears everyone to shreds. The children of the people he loves (Cathy) and hates (Hareton) are not left untouched in this story. Nelly's story ends at the same time Lockwood entered Wuthering Heights the first time. But we're not done yet....

Lockwood goes away but when he comes back he sees a remarkable change in everyone at Wuthering Heights. There is...... happiness.  Nelly commences the storytelling to catch Lockwood up on the events.

I can't really spoil a story that was written in 1846 and it's not a twist or anything amazing. But it does lend itself to a good ending to a story full of sorry souls who could not find happiness because one man stood in their way.

Some classics are boring and hard to get through, but some, like Wuthering Heights, are classics for a reason.

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