25th November, 2012
This week, I present my last literature article, which I decided had to be on what I regard as one of the hallmarks of classic literature: ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë. For those of you who love ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë, this is definitely the novel for you!
This captivating novel was published in 1847 under the name Ellis Bell rather than Emily Brontë, due to the success of ‘Jane Eyre’ after its publication a few months previous to this novel. This is Emily Brontë’s only published novel and despite its mixed reviews when it was first published, it is now viewed as one of the treasures of 19th Century literature and an essential must-read for any literature student. In an article based on the ’50 Books to Read Before You Die’, this novel came 7th, with many other reviewers placing it in its top ten best reads as well. For any lover of romance, this is a novel that will boil your blood, but, admittedly, it may also break your heart. However, at least this tale of unrequited love manages to escape the cliché of everything eventually working out in the end, all in favour of the heroes and heroines.
Some of you may have also seen the 2011 film adaptation of ‘Wuthering Heights’, with ‘Skins’ star, Kaya Scodelario, who is best known for her role as Effy Stonem, playing Catherine Earnshaw in this epic version of Emily Brontë’s magnificent novel. Click this link for a look at the trailer (but if you haven’t read the novel first then do read it before you look at the film or any other adaptations – you don’t want to have any distorted expectations or perceptions): ‘Wuthering Heights’ (2011) Official Trailer.
This novel, like many of the well-known novels of the 19th Century by authors such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, portrays the significant themes of wealth and status, which are the central determining factors hindering the characters of these novels to portray their dreams and desires. Decisions are, of course, driven by necessity, but it is the way in which these necessities are viewed within society which allow us to decide what to do. In the 21st Century, we crave to explore our identities and revel in our freedom to do how we please and love who we please in this liberal society. However, Victorian Society did not condone such free-thinking; the necessity was not to love whoever you choose, but to love whoever was chosen for you or seems the better candidate in terms of what they can offer you. This emotional story evolves around this very notion, since Catherine Earnshaw decides that the Byronic hero, Heathcliff, isn’t quite heroic enough in terms of social and monetary status.
’Wuthering Heights’ is described as an extraordinary piece of Victorian gothic fiction, with ghosts and descriptions of pathetic fallacy to complement grave circumstances; it is beautifully written and is guaranteed to keep you enthralled. This is just one of those novels that will stay with you for a lifetime; to me, it is the ultimate story of love and revenge, although I can’t tell you how many times I just wanted to scream, wishing things would just go to plan!