Emily Bronte’s sister Charlotte is known for her literary classics, including ‘Jane Eyre’, an iconic story of a woman’s independence and search for love. Emily was herself also a very talented writer, as her classic novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ displays.
Wuthering Heights’ is named after the fictional Yorkshire manor on the moors. The story revolves around the passionate love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, a love that is all-encompassing but unresolved and which eventually destroys them and the people around them.
Heathcliff’s story begins when he was a child, presumably orphaned, and brought into the Earnshaw home. He grows very close to their daughter, Catherine, but is forced to live as a servant after the master of the house, Mr. Earnshaw, dies and his son takes over the manor. Catherine returns after some time away acting more of a lady and teases Heathcliff for his unkempt appearance and ways. She then confides to a friend that she will be marrying a man named Edgar, although she still loves Heathcliff; she cannot marry her true love because of his lack of education and wealth, and plans to marry Edgar simply to increase Heathcliff’s status. Heathcliff overhears only the first part of the conversation and runs away.
When Heathcliff returns, he has increased his wealth and his social standing, but his beloved Catherine is now married and carrying a child. After giving birth to a daughter, Catherine dies. Heathcliff marries and his own wife gives birth to a son. These children eventually grow to be close and Heathcliff wishes them to marry. However, he still pines for his lost Catherine and sees her ghost in the manor, after which he eventually dies.
The story is interwoven with tales of mental and physical cruelties, and a feminist theme which was difficult given the time. Catherine is torn between nature and culture, in the forms of her love for Heathcliff and her duty to marry Edgar. Supporting characters are rich and full and receive their own fulfillment in the story; Nelly Dean, for example, was something of a servant to the main families and homes of the story but is seen as one of the most steadfast of all the personalities and one of the few to survive the love triangles surrounding her.
If you’re looking for a narrative rich and full in characters and all-consuming love, ‘Wuthering Heights’ is for you. It is more than just a love story; it is tragic and delicate at the same time, and never shies away from the brutality that can be administered by those who are affected by such passion. ‘Wuthering Heights’ has been considered a classic for many years and should be on every woman’s ‘must read’ list this year.