I wanted something to happen which might have the effect of freeing both Wuthering Heights and the Grange of Mr. Heathcliff, quietly; leaving us as we had been prior to his advent. His visits were a continual nightmare to me, and, I suspected, to my master also. His abode at the Heights was an oppression past explaining. I felt that God had forsaken the stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an evil beast prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring and destroy.
There’s the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished and that seems to be the case for Old Mr. Earnshaw in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. When he brings home the gypsy orphan boy, Heathcliff, he starts in motion what might be called a tour de force of creepy dysfunction.
Probably since high school English, I’ve heard of Heathcliff and Catherine as the epitome of tortured love. Now that I’ve read their story all of these years later, I can say that whoever said that wasn’t kidding. The foggy moor, the dark and cloudy nights, the full moons and the large old houses all coincide very well with the eerie storms raging in the minds and souls of the principle characters, not least of which is Heathcliff.
The families involved in the story live their lives mostly secluded from the rest of the world. Is the seclusion a result of the dysfunction or the cause of it? As with questions like this, I don’t think there is an answer; however, mulling it over can give literary and pychology types hours of fascination. I found it interesting that Lockwood, the gentleman to whom the story is being told, briefly contemplates marrying into the family and this is after he knows their story. I think it says more about the institution of marriage during the early 1800’s than about his questionable judgement – although maybe it says a little of both.
The servant Nelly Dean gives one of the better “narrator” performances that I’ve read in a while. Being both involved in the daily lives of the characters but also detached due to her servant status provides an interesting perspective.
For much of the novel, hope seems something far away or even non-existent. However, I always like stories that can find a glimmer of hope in an otherwise hopeless world. When the younger Cathy begins taking an interest in her cousin Hareton’s education and teaches him to read, it seems something good might come of this spooky mess.