Emily Bronte was the middle woman in the most celebrated nineteenth century literary family. Supplemented by sister Anne and more renowned sibling Charlotte, she had a love for the Yorkshire moors and human passion, which are both reflected in the only novel she compiled in her 29 years - Wuthering Heights.
At the time of its release, 1847, this controversial text divided many critics, and still does to this day. Many, me included, do not appreciate its content or intended objectives. Others oppose this viewpoint, stating that it's a masterpiece years, in terms of its originality, beyond the date of its initial publication.
One thing does impress me in this carefully woven novel. Just as Francis Ford Coppola did with tremendous success in the Godfather Part II in 1976, Bronte splits the story into two with the future generation mirroring their ancestors, whether it be the characteristics or mistakes they duplicate there is an apparent resemblance between the old and new guard.
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The conflicting narrators provide both humour and useful insight into the inhabitants of the moors. Lockwood, the voice-over at the beginning, has acquired the tenancy of Thrushcross Grange and decides to introduce himself to his new landlord, Heathcliff. Their meeting takes place at the nearby Wuthering Heights household. Lockwood establishes a long-winded narrative, which suggests he is a well-educated man, but seems to lack direction. This is understandable considering he is placed in unfamiliar surroundings. Nevertheless, his landlord Heathcliff is hostile and unfriendly to Mr. Lockwood, who rather naively believes that their next meeting will drastically improve.
Lockwood's second visit seems to be heading in the same direction as his previous one, with Heathcliff's servant Joseph offering no help whatsoever. However, Lockwood's visit vastly improves due to the introduction of Hareton and Catherine.
The above point, to a certain extent, condemns the admirers of the book and supports its critics. This is because the story development is regarded as coherent, whereas Lockwood's improved visit is unpredictable and surprising. Lockwood displays, as he did in his original assessment of Heathcliff, poor judgement, mistaking dead rabbits for cats and in attempting to piece together the family history. Heathcliff promptly corrects him. He is invited to stay where he unravels some of the family mystique and endures nightmares as a result. Lockwood, despite being accompanied by Heathcliff to the gate of Thrushcross Grange, loses himself and increases the journey considerably.
Lockwood, desperate to know more, asks his new housekeeper, Nelly Dean to enlighten him of Heathcliff's history. It is here where Lockwood hands over the narrative role to Dean. Nelly maintains this capacity for the remainder of the novel, albeit for the concluding three chapters, where Lockwood returns and resumes his role as commentator (symmetry.)
The housekeeper is the complete opposite to her employer in terms of style. She uses elementary vocabulary, which is inferior to Lockwood's, but is far more effective as it is direct, relevant and essential in giving accounts of characters and their respective histories. This allows the reader to identify with that particular person and the motives and emotions behind their actions.
It's revealed that Mr.Earnshaw, father of Catherine and Hindley, has adopted Heathcliff. Immediately this causes dissension in the Earnshaw ranks and both of Earnshaw's biological children dislike their relation. However, Catherine comes to grow fond of Heathcliff and the pair forge a tight-knit bond. Hindley displays jealousy. Not only has his sister changed her perspective on this outsider but, it appears that he has been displaced as Mr.Earnshaw's preferred son.
After the death of his father, Hindley succeeds his father as the main resident at Wuthering Heights with his wife Frances. Catherine and Heathcliff have now established an intimate relationship, which furthers Hindley's disregard for Heathcliff. He, out of spite, degrades him by making him do intensive, boring work and isolate him from his sister by ordering Heathcliff to live with servants.
Catherine, as a result of watching the Lintons at Thrushcross Grange, is attacked by guard dogs and her ankle is severely injured and is forced to remain at the Grange momentarily while Heathcliff returns to the Heights.
Catherine's tenure at Thrushcross Grange seems to have transformed her into a new person. After regaining full fitness, she returns a smart lady.
The example of Catherine's class elevation in just over a month reflects the impact the environment appears to have on the inhabitants. At Thrushcross, the surroundings are beautiful and captivated with fresh air, which is shown in the Lintons. Meanwhile, at Wuthering Heights, the house, located in a particularly rough region, is fading quickly. This has obviously rubbed off on Heathcliff and Hindley, who are possessive and bitter.
While Catherine's undoubted love for Heatcliff hasn't diminished in their separation, it, possibly inadvertently, contributes to the eventual termination of their relationship, as she has developed affection for Edgar Linton.
Catherine is given an ultimatum: Heathcliff or Edgar. She famously tells Nelly Dean: "I am Heathcliff." This comment suggests that her allegiance with Heathcliff is unstoppable as he is a permanent part of her being, but her lust for a higher-class living and sense of security prevails. She chooses Linton.
In my opinion, the primary focus of the novel, Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship captures, perhaps unintentionally, Bronte's use of symmetry and contrasts.
Catherine, even before her visit to the Grange, is perceived as a warm woman. On the other hand, Heathcliff is a wild savage who attains a hardman reputation. The formation of their friendship and then blossoming romance, installs their partner's quality into them. Catherine livens up and becomes a little wilder while her elegance brings her companion's positive attributes to our attention.
Due to his rejection, Heathcliff embarks on a 3-year exile from the moors. Catherine and Edgar marry a further three years down the line and live together in the Grange.
Heathcliff decides to return from his absence at this point and proceeds to cause friction within the Grange. Catherine is deleterious upon the return of her true love's return. Coinciding with this, Edgar's sister Isabella becomes besotted with Heathcliff.
The feeling is far from mutual, but Heathcliff, whose love is still reserved for Catherine, realises this is an ideal opportunity to spite Edgar. This fuels off arguments among Edgar, Catherine and Isabella. Heathcliff agrees to marry Isabella and her brother disowns her. Heathcliff has accomplished his sole purpose: To divide the Linton family.
Volume 2 begins with the declining condition and inevitable death of Catherine. On the night of her death, she gives birth to Cathy Linton. Isabella and Heathcliff end their association. Heathcliff later discovers his wife has given birth to a son. A lengthy time-shift in the narration transpires. Edgar, after receiving note of Isabella's condition, orders for her child-Linton- to stay with him.
Heathcliff has a devious plan: For his son, Linton and Cathy to marry which would ensure his entitlement of both Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. Edgar learns of Heathcliff's intention and attempts to prevent his daughter from coming into contact with either Heathcliff or Linton. Rather like her mother, Cathy's desire to interact with Linton cannot be denied and she communicates with him privately - like Catherine did with Heathcliff in the early stages of the novel. Edgar then dies and Linton is handed ownership of Thrushcross as opposed to his descendant Cathy.
Following Linton's death, Cathy is cruelly unable to seize ownership because she is now Heathcliff's daughter-in-law and he, not her, becomes landlord. As he dictates the Grange he decides to install a new tenant and orders her to live with him at Wuthering Heights. Like with previous inhabitants, Wuthering Heights only serves to change her into a miserable woman. Heathcliff, rather than inflict more suffering, seems now to be more concerned with being buried with Catherine than interfere with Cathy's affairs. He tells Nelly Dean that she's haunted him for years. Cathy then forms a friendship with Hareton, which like her mother lays the foundations for a relationship. Heathcliff finally dies through his burning desire to lie with Catherine.
Catherine and Cathy travel very similar paths. They're strong-minded, lively and delectable women who have both engaged in two stern relationships. (Catherine with Edgar and Heathcliff, Cathy with Linton and Hareton.) Their respective happiness, it seems is heavily influenced by the mere presence of Thrushcross Grange. As well as this, Catherine begins her life at Wuthering Heights and Cathy ends the novel there, rather like the aforementioned narrative symmetry between Lockwood and Nelly Dean. One intriguing thing is that while Thrushcross Grange brought the best out of the pair personally, it's difficult to say if it was there that they were their happiest there. Cathy must be relieved that she has found love with Hareton at the Heights after her previous marriage to Linton. And Catherine even confirmed it was Heathcliff, who she mingled with during her time at Wuthering Heights, not Edgar that she loved.
Heathcliff remains the same throughout. An uncaring person, that divides two generations. First of all Mr. Earnshaw's relationship with his son Hindley deteriorates as a result and then later causes friction between Cathy and Edgar. As mentioned above with regards to Catherine and her daughter, Heathcliff is involved in the two three-way relationships. Participating in the original affair and emerging the unlucky party in conjunction with Edgar and Catherine and instigating Cathy's two marriages with son Linton and Hareton. Despite this though, Catherine who he's rightfully buried with, exposes his sensitive side, even after her death and his marriage to Isabella.
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