(I read much less elegantly/yellow-ly)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: a Review

Here we are now. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

It's beautifully written, gripping and transfixingly powerful. You just get sucked into and swept along in this wildly, passionately dreary tale of warped passion and blind revenge. Whee. Okay, now that the back-cover review is over, time to spew some random thoughts!

I have a theory that the only way to make a satisfactory Wuthering Heights adaptation would be to make it a fake reality TV show.
  • A bunch of hot and/or crazy people in an interesting locale.
  • They are all spiteful, immature, selfish and manipulative.
  • Seeing their soul-crushingly melodramatic story unfold is like watching a train crash. 
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"Oh, I've been tormented! I've been haunted, Nelly! But I begin to fancy you don't like me. How strange! I thought, though everybody hated and despised each other, they could not avoid loving me."

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Okay, so this already happened. But we can pretend it didn't, right?
This book is somewhat infamous (to me) and it seems that a fair number of people really, really loathe it. I can understand that perspective, because it's a pretty difficult story. But I think your reception of  it can be heavily swayed by what you go in expecting. I mean,  it's hailed as one of the best love stories of all time, but  it's not a romance-romance where the reader wants to be Lizzy Bennet or whoever; the love story is filled with hate and the choices the (mostly intolerable) characters make destroy their lives and  those of everyone around them. It can really throw you off, but if you know beforehand  that it's a bleak bleak bleak study in selfishness and misguided emotional venting as opposed to a charming and airy tale of provincial romantic mishaps then I think it'll be a lot more enjoyable from the get-go. (Once again, credit goes to The Bronte Myth by Lucasta Miller for helping me realize things.) Heathcliff...well, he's no Mr. Darcy.

"May she wake in torment!" he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. "Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there—not in heaven—not perished—where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer—I repeat it till my tongue stiffens—Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”  

The structure of the narrative, with Lockwood telling us what Nelly told him, comes across as a little odd and complicated. But actually, it serves a purpose when you think about it -Nelly and Lockwood act as buffers between the reader and the swirling vortex of narcissism and spite that is the story.  Nelly has an attachment to all the Sucky People who get up to the hijinx, and is an emotionally-healthy observer of said hijinx, and Lockwood is an impressionable outsider to the story who ties together the past and present. It's not perfect, admittedly, because Nelly is just sort of there and Lockwood...is sort of an idiot. The part with the dead rabbit-puppies? How I laughed.
I'm trying to think of other perspectives that would work. Healthcliff is the most important Sucky Person, but it couldn't be first-person Heathcliff because so much happens out of his sight. Everybody else plays too small a role to connect both generations of the story, except Nelly. The only thing I can think of is different characters narrating different portions of the story. The part with Isabella's letter works, doesn't it? So what if the whole story was like that, with all the characters taking turns to tell a bit based on which perspective and voice would best suit the happenings? Except Joseph would never have a chapter. Ever.

"We's hae a Crahnr's 'quest, at ahr folks. One on 'em's a'most getten his finger cut off wi' hauding t'other froo' sticking hisseln loike a cawlf. That's maister, yah knaw, ut's soa up uh going tuh t' grand 'sizes. He's noan feard uh t' Bench uh judges, norther Paul, nur Peter, nur John, nor Mathew, nor noan on 'em, nut he! He fair like's he langs tuh set his brazened face agean 'em!" 

Ech! Fook yah Joseph.

To conclude:
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Seriously, this came up when I did an image search for Heathcliff:


But in all fairness, so did these:
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Here's this now. Goodbye!

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