From the moment I laid eyes on this question I knew exactly which novel I was going to be talking about, but now I’m sitting here writing the post I feel all nervous and clammy. You see, I want this post to be epic because that’s how I feel about the book. Yet that’s probably impossible because I read this classic such a long time ago that many of the details have faded. Have you ever just loved a novel so much that you found it impossible to arrange your thoughts into a coherent sentence to convey the sincere connection you have to it?
Revolution for Breakfast did a great job of magically describing how she found one of her favourite books, and while I don’t think I can live up to that, I hope after I finish you might consider reading or rereading this book. 🙂
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One unsuspecting day I returned some books to the school library, I smiled at the librarian (who always seemed to be shocked when someone actually wanted to take out a book) and went to search for my next adventure.
I browsed along the small isles and took note of many familiar novels that never seemed to move from their designated shelf spaces. I felt a unimpressed; I wanted something new, something different.
Then out of the corner of my eye I spotted a book on the bottom shelf, tucked away in a corner nestled between several other generic books.
The title almost seemed to glow, I lowered myself to the floor so I could look at it closer. Red font and an off white cover stared back at me.
To this day, I still don’t have much idea why I picked it up, something about the title just enchanted me, it seemed eerie and mysterious. ‘Wuthering Heights. What does that mean?’ I thought, ‘who is Emily Brontë?’ The plain cover could give me no indication either. I looked inside; the font was tiny and the writing style old. I’d never taken an interest in a classic before, let alone read one, and yet I found myself going over to the librarian with the book, taking it out and thoughtfully walking home.
When I showed my mum the book she looked something along the lines of bewildered or surprised. I was only fourteen after all, I doubt she thought I would get on with the book but was intrigued that I was willing to try.
Within the first five chapters I was totally confused and lost. A man named Lockwood had moved into a house and met his gruff landlord Mr Heathcliff. At some point he engaged a housekeeper in conversation and she began telling Lockwood all about Wuthering Heights and the people that lived there. I felt deflated, the language was tough and there were already so many characters to keep track of. I was utterly confused by the names situation with multiple generations of people with the same surnames or similar first names. I was close to admitting defeat, but something in my head told me to keep going, determination?
I got my mum to read the first five chapters along with me again, she looked up a family tree and I eventually got to the point where I had it straight into my head. After that I was off at a sprint. I dove head first into a period soap opera of betrayal, anger and deceit.
I know a lot of people perceive Wuthering Heights as an over the top love story and I think that’s why a lot of people aren’t bothered about picking it up. Oddly, I never really saw it as a romance. Its about people that sacrifice their future happiness to spite someone, it’s about people who refuse to swallow their pride, it’s about self sabotage and pain and depression, deceit and lies. It’s about hate and lust, rolled into one toxic mess. It focuses on how the nostalgia of the past that can haunt someone everyday when they face the reality of their present. It tackles nature vs nurture; are we are born bad or are we shaped by our surroundings and those we come in contact with? And if it is a romance, it’s about the darker side of love, how it can twist and warp people into something unrecognisable, it’s about the misery and the suffering and the bitterness of a broken heart.
Like many other 19th century novel’s, it’s also about the restrictions placed on women in relation to marriage, and the limitations of their lives because they are shackled to the whims of men who dictate who they marry, what they will learn and how they will live.
Wuthering Heights is my favourite classic novel firstly because of the deep rooted personal connection I had with it. I felt the writer’s every description, fanciful phrase and her unmasked pain. Emily got me invested in the insanity of Cathy and Heathcliff’s lives even though they are possibly the most vain, egotistical and unlikeable characters in literature. The other reason I love Wuthering Heights is because it opened my eyes. I found out classics didn’t have to be drawn out stuffy books that only older people read. I realised they weren’t all about bland people being politically correct and sitting around doing nothing other than having tea parties. (My younger brain’s impression of Jane Austen!) I discovered that they could be wild and passionate and psychotic and exciting. Classics could be an adventure; just like all of those other novels stuck unloved in that dingy, unfeeling school library.
Do you have a favourite classic book and if so why? What did you think of Wuthering Heights? 🙂
P.S. It has become clear to me over the years that Wuthering Heights is the epitome of a Marmite book, so if you run off to buy a copy and don’t like it, I’m sorry! :S
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