Wuthering Heights—By Emily Brontë

Book Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Only when I read this book I encountered the story of Emily Brontë and her sisters Anne and Charlotte. It is an inspiring story to say the least. Because despite being limited to the town of Yorkshire where they lived, Emily’s imagination was overwhelmingly rich since she was a young girl. That is so, that she would prefer to stay in her own imaginative world rather than to explore what was happening in her surroundings. Her biography states that the periods for when she left home to study in a boarding school in Cowan Bridge and later to become an assistant teacher at a school where very unhappy moments. Emily loved her home, her family, and the attachment to her two sisters is also seen in the writings before Wuthering Heights.

Her family history confirms a theory I have had for years. It does not matter where and when you have been born, the influence of your parents can determine your future. Emily and her sisters had a father that believed in education as a way to make them independent, including endless reading and time for writing, reducing the weight of their domestic chores. We are talking about the years 1818-1848 when Emily was born and died. Her father was educated at Cambridge and his daughters received a type of formal education, as well as instruction at home from their father. But the most important teaching was the sense of freedom and independence as they were not forced to marry. As Charlotte said: ‘Whatever happens after, assuring an education is an acquired and inestimable advantage […] Your daughters, as well as your sons, should aspire to build their own and honest path in life. Don’t keep them locked at home. Believe me, teachers may work hard, be underpaid and belittled, but the girl who stays at home without doing anything is much more poorer than the donkey with the heaviest weight and worst salary of any school’ [my won translation]

However, as an author, Emily Brontë was highly criticised. This in my view was unfair, as we do not know much of her character nor her personality. She was strong, very strong, but she was not attached to any political cause, not even feminism, which her sisters where fond of. Her most famous novel, Wuthering Heights, was rejected by some critics who considered it immature and without any compromise to the social issues of the time. And it is true that her book is violent. To support this argument I chose Heathcliff, one of the main characters. An abused and abandoned child he grew up with a sense of revenge and became a cruel and despiteful human being. His main goal was to finish with the union and fortune of the two families that mistreated him when he was young. His only love, Catherine, married another man while loving Heathcliff in secret. He loved her too but his desire for revenge was unrelenting. She was the only one who understood his troubled soul. He married Catherine’s sister-in-law, and the bad circumstances made him the adult in charge of his biological son, Linton, whom he hated for being weak; Hareton, the son of Catherine’s brother, whom he despised, and because of this he kept the boy wild and illiterate; and Catherine, the daughter of Catherine, whom he tricked to marry Linton to make him the owner of all the land that belonged to the two families who rejected him when he was little.

It was only on the XX century when Wuthering Heights received the popularity and respect it deserved. That, together with the talent of her sisters and her own books, especially Jane Eyre, of Charlotte Brontë, formed a compound talent, condensed in a sole family, which was, and still is, pretty rare.

Some of the experts say that Wuthering Heights is a book to be read several times. Because the secrets that their characters carry are not released until the personalities are studied forward and backwards. But it is also because of the emotions described and the exaltation that they create on the reader. The novel could be interiorised as a chronicle of terror, as well as love and union. In my opinion, the method in which this book was written does sanction the social issues of the time, contrary to some critics opinions. I disagree with whoever argues that the story does not point to the problems of the society of the XVII Century. It is actually the story in itself and the reactions it provokes that highlight the violence and the political, economic and gender situations that were so unfavourable for so many people back then.

These are a novel and an author a 100% recommended.


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