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Wuthering Heights

 

Wuthering perhaps isn’t even a real word. Yet, I can picture the stormy moors, the desolate land, the wild winds. I can picture the dark night against which stands the lonely manor where the two doomed lovers live. For their bodies might be buried, but their tumultuous, destructing, indestructible love is alive. Running rampant through all time.

The book was first published in 1847. A reticent cloistered girl had written a novel of passion and feelings that broke all barriers of what was understood, and documented as literature, during that time. Perhaps, that is why this remains one of the most widely cited classics of all time. Condemned and criticized, often tagged perverse, at the time of its publication, this story has been cited in almost every literature course since then and filmed into uncountable movies and television shows.

“My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

More than 150 years after its original publication I saw the book in my mother’s hand. I longed to grow up enough to read it. Finally one summer holiday, under the shade in a secluded spot in my grandparent’s garden I sat on a stone bench and read a novel that would remain with me throughout my life.

I reread it recently, having gotten tempted while I was researching about the archetype Byronic hero. The pull remains still as strong, the feelings that arise within still as chaotic. When you read a classic the world around becomes pale in comparison. In this book the prose flows like poetry. The imagery, vivid and personal, transports you to a timeless infinite space. The landscape itself becomes as strong a presence as any of the characters.  I have not even studied literature formally and am no way adept to critique, but I am a reader who is moved by this tale and a writer desirous of sharing this experience with all.

wuthering-heights

A narration within a narration. Complicated names, customs that are hard to identify with. A hazy passage of time, a possibility of an unreliable narrative, all make the novel not an easy tale to follow. The most difficult being the ability to identify with the characters, but if you know of no one like Heathcliff or Catherine, by the end you might find yourself longing to have met someone like them.

In the present day Mr Lockwood, a new entry into the neighborhood, chances upon Heathcliff, his enigmatic landlord. He also meets his sulking enticing daughter-in-law Cathy and her boorish cousin, Hareton. Nelly, the housekeeper for Mr Lockwood, is persuaded to tell the story of the strange family residing now at Wuthering Heights.

It is thus the reader is introduced to the story of Heathcliff, the devil incarnate. And his story remains incomplete without the willful Catherine Earnshaw, the mother of Cathy (Catherine Linton), mentioned above.  Wuthering Heights talks about a love that is not kind or bright. It is haunting and calamitous not just for the lovers involved, but for everyone around. Catherine has to decide between a life of comfort and normalcy with Linton, caring but pale in comparison to Heathcliff, or Heathcliff who is intense and  tempestuous. Even though she openly declares to Nelly that she and Heathcliff are one being she marries Linton. Thus ensuring unrest for everyone.

“If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years as I could in a day.”

Scornful of others inability to experience the same ferocity of emotion, arrogant about their love, Heathcliff and Catherine still chose a path of destruction. He married Linton’s sister in an act of vengeance. Catherine’s brother’s son, Hareton Earnshaw (also mentioned above), was also to be punished for his father’s sins. Thus, started Heathcliff’s deranged journey of making sure the following generation also continued to live in hell. He literally forced Catherine’s daughter to marry her dying pathetic weakling cousin, Linton Heathcliff, Heathcliff’s own son.

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living, you said I killed you – haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderes, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

After all the violence of feelings, the disturbing evocative deeds of various characters in the book it still manages a most peaceful of endings. Mr Lockwood gets to witness the beautiful moor and two lovers together. Actually, he gets to be beside two pairs of lovers. Confused? Read the book to find out more. Or watch the numerous adaptations of the story. I recently saw one from ITV with Tom Hardy (you might know him as Bane from Batman Rises or from the movie Inception) as Heathcliff.  Or you could watch the academy award winning film of 1939, starring Lawrence Oliver.

There is hardly any physical description of intimacy except the mention of kisses and a few passionate hugs, still there is a visceral sexuality. Raw and untamed, because of the potency and novelty of emotions. Like the pristine moors, even the vilest of acts is pure in this book, because it remains untouched by society and dictated solely by heart. Every time Heathcliff enters the page of the book he brings with him a frenetic obsessive energy and it becomes hard to remain unaffected or in control.  Baroque, gloomy and stirringly beautiful, this is one tale you must experience for yourself to decide the impact it will leave on you.

Picture Cr. Google .

 

AARWEN’S INDEX

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  • ladkikijhy@gmail.com'
    Ladki Kijhy
    April 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Like you I used to read the classics a lot growing up. Its been a while since I’ve read one of my favorites. Life gets in the way! I remember the first time I read wuthering, was too young to fully comprehend it. Read it many times over the times, and each time gained a new insight. I remember watching a documentary on the brontes once. They lived a pretty isolated life, and made me wonder from whence all that imagination came. I remember getting an unabridged version of Jane Eyre for my 12th b’day. Hope I can make the time to go back and read them again, you have made me nostalgic Rhea!

    • rhea sinha
      April 6, 2015 at 10:33 am

      I remember you saying all of us share this love for the written world. Thank you for letting the post transport you back to those memories kizh. I was also reading very less, till I started writing about ipk. Suddenly this whole literary world that I had loved reenteredinto my life. I hope this site makes you want to read more. After reading your comment am all set to re-read Jane Eyre again.

  • ankita.mohanty7@gmail.com'
    Ankita
    April 6, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Rhea, I haven’t yet read the book but I feel quite tempted to do so now. This kind of passionate, all consuming love that you have underlined here is something that always stands out beyond the realm of common affairs. It just reminded me of the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Amelia says Derek ‘I think I am falling in love with Owen Hunt and I am scared its going to destroy me’ to which Derek replies ‘It wont be called love if it doesn’t. 🙂

    • rhea sinha
      April 6, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks for coming and indulging with me time and again in this craziness for love. The quote is perfect! This time I must watch Grey’s Anatomy.