Thursday, February 3, 2011

Me Like to Read: Review - Wuthering Heights

OK. This review will be soooo biased and soooo long because I luuuuuuurrrrrrvvvvv Wuthering Heights. I read it for the first time in college and I read it maybe every two years. Every time I come back to it, I get angry for six hundred some odd pages and then! Like lightning! I remember that bad people come to bad ends and all gets to be right in the world.
Let the review commence.

It's the story of Heathcliff, an orphan who is found and housed by the generous Mr. Earnshaw. Heathcliff is brought to Wuthering Heights - the Earnshaw home - and treated not as a servant but as one of the children. He is despised by the boy, Hindley, but adored by the daughter, Catherine. Years pass, Mr. Earnshaw dies, Hindley comes home to claim his inheritance including Wuthering Heights and all of the generosity shown to Heathcliff for so many years is stripped away.

Now a servant, Heathcliff struggles to accept that his best friend and lover (in old English terms) Catherine could so easily move on without him in her life. She quickly finds herself reformed and haughty and begins to treat Heathcliff with the same disdain that everyone else in life treats him. One night, while sitting at the table with her housekeeper Nelly, Catherine reflects on the wedding proposal she's received from the local boy, Edgar Linton. She knows that she doesn't love him and that Heathcliff despises him, but in only caring for her comfort she tells Nelly that she accepted the proposal. Heathcliff is sitting just a few feet away and upon hearing the news steals out into the night, leaving Wuthering Heights for good.

This is the part of the book where I inevitably say things like, "Grrr! I hate Catherine! She's a man ruin-er!!!"

Five years later, Heathcliff comes strolling through bringing with him an untold amount of wealth. Hindley has become a gambling alcoholic and is now ripe for the picking. Catherine is living the good life over at Thrushcross Grange - her home with Edgar. Heathcliff stops by and Catherine acts like a 14-year-old girl - totally silly and infatuated. Heathcliff refuses to live without her and they hide their affections from no one. Because she won't leave Edgar and Heathcliff has become a vindictive jerk, he asks her young sister-in-law, Isabella Linton, to marry him. This way, he's a part of the family and can be near Catherine by proxy.

What he didn't count on was Isabella having the good sense to figure out that he didn't really love her and Edgar forbidding Isabella - or anyone in her household - to come to Thrushcross Grange again. Betrayal makes people do and say funny things, doesn't it? Catherine goes stark raving mad. I say she's just a spoiled brat throwing a tantrum but everyone in the book believes that she has some sort of mental illness. Heathcliff plants himself outside her house day after day until he can convince Nelly to let him in to see Catherine. Upon his arrival, Catherine acts a damned fool and refuses to let him leave, even as Edgar ascends the stairs to check on her progress.

Heathcliff pushes her way for the last time and later that night her daughter (also named Catherine but hereby called Cathy) is born 2 months premature. Catherine dies in the process. Edgar prays for peace and Heathcliff prays to be haunted. They both get what they ask for. Isabella runs away from Wuthering Heights which is currently being run by Heathcliff although no one can figure out how he managed to finagle control from Hindley. Word gets out that she too has a child, a son that she names Linton - her maiden name.

Time passes and Isabella goes with it. Heathcliff claims his right to his son Linton and he puts the world's most diabolic plan in to motion all to get back at the man that had the audacity to love and marry his beloved Catherine. Young Cathy is forced to marry her first cousin, Linton, because both he and her father are deathly ill and Heathcliff has taken care to make sure that her father dies first ensuring that she inherits everything. Then when his son dies, he will own all of the Linton's property. Cathy inherited nothing from her mother except for her dark, piercing eyes and her fiery temper. As a woman in the late 1700s and early 1800s, she knows that she's at his mercy but refuses to cow tow to him.

She makes peace with her circumstance and spends her time disobeying Heathcliff while staying firmly out of his reach and helping Hareton - her other cousin - learn to read. It's when Heathcliff walks in on the two of them reading by the fire that he realizes that all his years of plotting and planning revenge still couldn't dampen the happiness of those who sought it. He starts to go crazy and his ever-present scowl is replaced by a permanent and even more menacing grin. For four days he refuses to eat or spend time with anyone around him. He also never writes a will.

When they see him next, he is found on the floor of Catherine's childhood room in Wuthering Heights grinning like the devil and pale as a ghost. All of Wuthering Heights is given back to it's rightful heir and true love blossoms for those who have cultivated it. Thrushcross Grange is abandoned. No one will go down there at night where Catherine is buried with her husband Edgar to her left and her beloved Heathcliff to her right. No one will go down there because - as legend tells it - you can still find Mr. Heathcliff walking among the moors... with a beautiful woman on his arm.

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