Most people have heard of, if not read Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Bronte. It has been lauded as one of the greatest English language romances of all time. People who haven’t read the book will still recognize an echoing call of “Heathcliff!” ringing across brooding British moors.
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
However, this was my first time reading it, having failed to do so in high school.
I loved the book but not the characters. Hareton is pretty much the only character I kind of liked. Even Cathy Jr. got on my nerves. They’re all impetuous with little care for anyone but themselves.
“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”
It was soo quotable, gloomy, mysterious and passionate. But it wasn’t romantic. They jjust tortured each other, and the pain made it a great read. It made me realise how much we romanticize bad decisions. TERRIBLE DECISIONS & SELFISH CHOICES & TRAGEDY & REGRET: why are these ingredients for some of the most acclaimed romantic tales?
“I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.”
But after discussing this with a Bronte Book Club group on Instagram (aka bookstagram) I have to acknowledge two important points that are empowering. A) although I kept blaming Isabella for putting herself in such a terrible situation, ignoring all signs and advice, we have to give her credit for having the courage to leave : against all society’s pressures for women to just stick with their terrible husbands. B) Catherine senior chose her own husband, and chose him for pragmatic reasons – she didn’t get swept up with emotion for Heathcliff but made a cold decision. She stuck to her decision and didn’t waver except for when she was on her deathbed. Both these things are even more powerful if we keep in mind the time when this was written.
“She burned too bright for this world.”