So today I will be reviewing a classic of English literature: Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights. As it has been some time since I have written anything in this blog, I will open by leaning on that old standby that I formerly employed in my high school essays: the dictionary.
The Webster’s dictionary defines wuthering as an intransitive verb meaning “to blow with a dull roaring sound” while dictionary.com defines it as a verb meaning “to blow fiercely.” The word heights is defined by dictionary.com as an “a high place above a level; a hill or mountain.” Thus, “Wuthering Heights” calls to mind a high level of blowing fiercely. Can we say that this particular book has a high level of fierce blowing? Unfortunately for this reviewer, we cannot.
He can, however, refer to all of the things in this book that do blow fiercely:1) The incest.
3) The wind.
4) Catherine, the first one.
5) Linton Heathcliff.
7) The weather, in general.
8) The overall health of most of the characters.
Thar be spoilers ahead.
So, on the topic of incest in this particular novel, Heathcliff is adopted at a young age and establishes, early on, a deep connection with his adopted sister, Catherine Earnshaw. Their fierce love for one another is the hinge that this entire book turns on. They do not get married, and that is great. Instead, Catherine Earnshaw marries Edgar Linton who is, to this reviewer’s great relief, of no relation. Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton give birth to Cathy Linton. In the meantime, Heathcliff marries Isabella Linton, Edgar’s sister. While this is odd, it is by no means incestuous. They give birth to Linton Heathcliff.
It is worth mentioning at this point that Linton Heathcliff and Cathy Linton are what this reviewer’s wife refers to as “super-cousins.” That is, cousins whose respective aunt and uncle are brother and sister. These two super-cousins get married because Heathcliff is a horrible human being whose passion for incest is only matched by his overwhelming need to brood.
Being that most of the characters are quite fragile, Linton Heathcliff dies before anything can be consummated between him and his super-cousin (phew). Now, this reviewer neglected to mention that Catherine Earnshaw had an elder brother, Hindley Earnshaw. Hindley is a great character, in that he did not marry or obsess romantically over any relation of his. Other than that, he’s a bit of a degenerate. He and his wife begat Hareton Earnshaw. Hareton, like Heathcliff, enjoys a good brood. Hareton Earnshaw and Cathy Linton end up together, of course, as they are cousins.
Throughout all of this, Heathcliff obsesses over his adopted sister.
Now, how is it possible for this reviewer to recommend a book so replete with incest? Easy, he did his best to try to forget that area by repeating this mantra over and over while rocking back and forth in disquietude: “it was a different time, it was a different time, it was a different time, it was a different time.” For this reason, this reviewer does not recommend reading Wuthering Heights on the bus, unless you want your own section to yourself.
Areas of interest in this book that people can unpack ad nauseum as people are wont to do with literature:
1) Unreliable narrators Nelly Dean and Lockwood.
2) Is Heathcliff a vampire? Is Catherine Earnshaw a vampire?
3) Pretty cool that Heathcliff has no surname and Lockwood has no first name, no?
4) Gothic stuff.
5) Byronic heroes, why do they suck so much?
6) Damn, this book is dark, no?
7) How about this book is not particularly romantic?
Recommendation: read it, it’s a good one.