Valentine’s Day Hop: Wuthering Heights – Wild, Dark, Tragic


Wuthering Heights - Emily BronteThis is nothing,’ cried she: ‘I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other. I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.’

I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. 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.

These two quotations from Wuthering Heights have always been my favourites. Yet although as a teenager they filled me with awe that love could be so wild, so passionate, as an adult I came to realise that love is not always healthy and that a love full of passion and drama isn’t necessarily romantic. Despite this, Wuthering Heights remains one of my favourite romantic reads because of the complexity of the story and the difficulties that the two are presented with and struggle to overcome.

1)  Expectations, judgements, assumptions all weigh heavily on the duo.

Top Withens, Yorkshire

Top Withens, Yorkshire (Source: Dave Dunford, Wikipedia)

2) Cathy and Heathcliff are young. The strength of their feelings would overwhelm a mature adult who had experienced love – or at least attraction – before. They are ill-equipped to deal with their changing feelings and it quickly shows. Their immaturity only adds a further obstacle – they are silly and stubborn, where someone with more experience would be measured and avoid childish games.

3) They lack a role model. The absence of a mother is not the issue. It is the absence of any role model. Nelly is arguably one of the kinder characters in the book but only when she wants to be. She can also be devious and unsympathetic, judgemental and callous.

Top Withens Plaque, Yorkshie

Bronte Society Plaque, Top Withens, Yorkshire (Source: Dave Dunford, Wikipedia)

4) They are sheltered. For all the dark and wild imagery of the book and its portrayal of their life on the moors, they are sheltered from life. They have been too removed from society to see other perspectives on life. Heathcliff comes across as animalistic. What example has he had that could have led to anything different?

5) They are proud. Ultimately, their unwillingness to be honest, their fear of exposing themselves to one another, their inabilty to reveal the slightest weakness is their final undoing. Despite all opposition and obstacles, the two could have been a force to be reckoned with as a team. They were never a team, though. Not once their feelings had developed. As a result, Heathcliff never sees the real Cathy and vice versa. The novel is plagued with avoidable misunderstandings and the consequences are terrible.

That is why it is still one of my favourite reads. It is a tale of anguish and pain but it is also a tale of incredible love and desire. It is a reminder to us all that love requires honesty and compromise to flourish. Mistrust and stubborness will slowly destroy it.

Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

William Shakespeare

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  • Wuthering Heights has been on my to read list for ages – I've made it about fifty pages in once or twice before but have always stopped there, before actually getting to any of the Cathy/Heathcliff stuff. From the way everyone talks about them though I feel like I'm missing out and should bring it to the top of my list!

    Antonietta February 14, 2013 7:01 am Reply
    • Oh, it's such a beautiful book but at the same time so gritty and full of conflict. I had a few false starts with it but I was so glad I persevered! Thanks for stopping by – can't wait to read your post!

      Donna Brown February 14, 2013 7:26 am Reply
  • I love the Bronte' brother and sisters. If you want to read their real life tragedies from which they took inspiration, check out 'Dark Quartet'. Once you read that, you will understand what fueled their writing.

    Kitty Sutton February 14, 2013 11:10 am Reply
    • Thanks Kitty! I actually live in West Yorkshire and have visited Haworth a number of times. Their history is certainly fascinating but incredibly sad. I'll be sure to look that book up.

      Donna Brown February 14, 2013 12:50 pm Reply
  • Wuthering Heights is so intense! I have seen a movie adaptation but I could not finish the book. The love between Heathcliff and Catherine is breathtaking.

    Agree that love must be honest if we want it to flourish. ^_^

    Have a great day!

    Tin February 15, 2013 5:24 am Reply
  • Thanks, Donna, for your involvement in this! I, too, need to make time to read this classic that shaped modern romantic literature.

    Susan Salluce February 15, 2013 10:51 pm Reply
  • Wuthering Heights has been on my "to reread list" for a while, and I just started listening to the audio book! Definitely worth a second read!

    Susanbright February 19, 2013 6:07 pm Reply
    • Thanks for commenting Susan. Hope you're enjoying your second read through :)

      David M. Brown February 20, 2013 12:43 pm Reply

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