Saturday, September 3, 2011
Wuthering Heights, My Review
Two nights ago I finished reading Wuthering Heights for the first time. It was around 2 am and I was left bewildered and unable to go to sleep. I came about the book as many youngsters do this day and age, by reading Twilight. The way the book gets tangled in Edward and Bella's story made me completely curious about it; I did some research and found out a few reviews that classified it as a tragic romance. I thought Romeo and Juliet-like and decided I could do with a bit of tragedy. Oh, my, did I get it wrong. It is a tragedy, alright but in a very unexpected way and, from my point of view, it has very little to do with romance.
Lets start with its best qualities, the style. The narrative is enthralling and you know how some classics are so heavy on the descriptions that you just want to skip whole paragraphs? Well, I'm happy to say this is not the case. The descriptions are vivid and take you to the middle of the moors where you feel the breeze caressing your hair and can almost smell the abandonment in the old Wuthering house. The language is simple for the most part, though one of the characters, Joseph, speaks in a manner completely indecipherable to me but it's a small character and all the others give you a clear idea of life in the 1800's. The style of a story provides like half of the experience for the reader and this half is a master piece. Now the other half, the characters.
Imagine a painting with a beautiful country landscape so bemusing you can't stop looking at it even though in its centre there is a group of human beings doing the most atrocious things to one another. That's kind of the effect the story has on the reader. All the beauty contrasts so much with the behaviour of the characters that it hits you like a hammer.
Wuthering Heights relates the story of the Earnshaws, who deal badly with the adoption of an abandoned gypsy boy the father took back home from one of his trips. Very soon in the story, you perceive how the relations between the children break and, as soon as the father dies, the suffering begins. What eventually develops is a vicious cycle of abuse towards the youngest characters that broke my heart and almost made me cry more than once.
About the romance part we all have heard so much about... well, more than a love story I would say that the main characters, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, share the same sense of entailment and selfishness that dooms their 'love' from the very beginning. Their actual 'love story' lasts but a moment in the whole of the book but it has such an effect on them and the ones around that, like in the aftermath of a hurricane, the horrible weather left behind is what destroys whatever life the other characters had.
I think the one very contemporary message everybody fails to see is how damaging verbal abuse is and how it tends to repeat over and over through generations. In our time, this subject tends to get the same kind of incredulity the story in the book got back in its time. And I quote the Graham's Lady Magazine: "How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors."
I'd have to say to that woman that many families live in real life the horrors described in the novel and still there's hope for love to survive and one to better his/herself, just like in the book.
So, in a nutshell, I one hundred percent recommend Wuthering Heights, not only as a great exemplar of classic literature, but as a cautionary tale of a very contemporary problem. Let yourself be taken to life in the 1800's, its beauties and its pains; just be warned: don't forget your hankies.