Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Title: WutheringHeights
Author:Emily Bronte
Publication:Peacock Books; Price:Rs. 95; ISBN:978-81-248-0009-6

Having learnt from my teachers as it being one of the best classics English literature could possibly gift and having read its abridged version as a child, I could not resist myself upon seeing this complete and unabridged version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ at the World Book Fair’12 in Delhi. And so my romance with the classics of English literature begins once again.

‘WutheringHeights’, a complex piece of artistic literature is a narration of events relating to two households Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, by a certain Mrs. Ellen Dean, inscribed as the diary entries of a certain Mr.Lockwood.

In1801- Mr. Lockwood, a tenant at Thrushcross Grange, went to meet his landlordand his sole neighbour, Mr. Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights and found the atmosphere of the house quite dismal, with the residents including an uncultured lad, a beautiful but bad natured young widow and two servants apart from Mr. Heathcliff himself. He had to stay there for that night as it had started to snow and he could not go back to his own residence. At night, in the room he was made to spend the night, he saw a strangs set of books containing labels, Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Linton and Catherine Heathcliff. He also had a nightmare where he encountered Catherine Linton telling him that she had been roaming on this earth, all alone and cold!

A confused Mr. Lockwood, upon reaching Thrushcross Grange asked his housekeeper, Mrs. Ellen Dean to tell him what the events that had happened actually meant and who were the three Catherines.

She began her narration that many years back the Wuthering Heights had been the property and abode of the Earnshaws. She was the servant employed to play with the children Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw. One day their father brought home an orphan, an uncivilized creature, whom he named Heathcliff and whom he loved more than his own children.

Heathcliffgrew to be a real devil, basically wanting to gather and possess all the property he possibly could, but he loved Catherine dearly. Though even she loved him much, she married Mr. Edgar Linton of Thrushcross Grange. Mr.Linton and Mr. Heathcliff could not get along with each other at any time in their lives.

In due course of time, Hindley Earnshaw gets married, his father dies, his wife too dies leaving behind a son, Hareton. Isabella – Mr. Edgar Linton’s sister fell in the trap purposely laid by Heathcliff as revenge against taking away Catherine and also as a scheme to finally be the owner of Thrushcross Grange. Isabella fell in love and married Heathcliff. Mrs. Catherine Linton kept losing her health over her divided love for Heathcliff and Edgar (Heathcliff basically, for they lovedeach other dearly, and Edgar, a little for he was her husband). She leaves behind a daughter, also named Catherine (or Cathy, as her father fondly callsher) and leaves for her heavenly abode. Ellen Dean and Mr. Linton bring up young Cathy in the most protective and loving manner in which they possiblycould.

Meanwhileat Wuthering Heights, Isabella is oppressed, tortured and she finally runs away to the south where she has a son, Linton Heathcliff. She dies young and her sickly son is brought up by his inhuman father, merely as a tool that might fetch his father the ownership of the Grange if he might inherit it one day. Hindley Earnshaw gambles and loses all his land to Heathcliff and Hareton is left a pauper after Hindley’s early death.

Heathcliff makes young Cathy Linton his prisoner and trickily gets her married to his son. He gets his son to write a will that after him, all his property will got to his father, Mr. Heathcliff.

Soon, sickly Cathy’s husband Linton Heathcliff and her father Mr. Edgar Linton (who had been suffering long) slip into eternal slumber. And this was the present state whenHeathcliff, the present owner of both the estates, Hareton Earnshaw, the uncivilized fellow Lockwood had met and Mrs. Catherine Heathcliff, the youngwidow of Mr. Linton Heathcliff lived at Wuthering Heights at the mercy of the old crook Heathcliff.
Very soon Lockwood leaves the Grange and moves to London.

In1802- Mr. Lockwood had another chance of visiting Thrushcross Grange where he finds that Ellen Dean has shifted to Wuthering Heights. He goes there to meet her and to settle some pending transactions with Mr. Heathcliff and finds that Heathcliff has died and thus now young Catherine is the owner of the two estates and very soon she and Hareton would be tying the knot and moving to the Thrushcross Grange, for she liked that place better and because they thought that Wuthering Heights was now haunted.

And thus the book closes on this peaceful and happy note.

Through the entire story, we get a good number of pieces that require a thought. Generations after generations, the same mistakes are repeated. As a famous quote goes, “Every generation thinks that it is better than the previous and wiser than the next” and the proverb “love is blind” comes true through this text. It was the baseless, blind yet tender love of Mrs. Catherine Linton for Heathcliff that ultimately destroyed her. Her sister-in-law, Isabella, even after having a lot of intelligence about his character, thought the entire world was against her and that her love was divine, married the rascal and suffered much. Young Cathy also believed that her love for the junior Heathcliff was pure and would pay little heed to anyone showing the the light of realitythat existed in life.

In the story, Mr. Edgar Linton comes across as a perfect gentleman, a good son, a caring brother, a really awesome husband (it is mentioned that no mother would tend to her only child as Edgar tended to Catherine) and a perfect father (the example is the bringing up he gave to his motherless daughter).

Another thing that comes in view is the human greed and selfishness. It has been there ever since and shall remain till human race exists. Heathcliff is shown to be a greedy man whose sole intention in life was to own the two estates mentioned in the book and he could go to any length to achieve his aim. He ruined two proper families, apart from his own, of course, to fuel his ambition and in the end he barely survived for six months after fraudulently gaining the ownership of the Grange, to enjoy the fruits of his wickedness. The question arises that if the grave is our ultimate destination and that all we do/make shall remain behind,why do we indulge in all sorts of wrong deeds, schemes and frauds?

A beautiful pattern can be seen in the way Mrs. Catherine Linton, born and brought up at Wuthering Heights cherished her old home more than the Grange; Isabella having spent her early years at the Grange found the Heights worthless. Young Cathy also decided to shift back to Thrushcross Grange upon her marriage to Hareton, for she loved that place much better.

The beautiful scenery, the vast open moors, the parks, the holy influence of the Church and the bible, colourful and picturesque description of the seasons, the varied facets of human nature, the deep running emotions and feelings of people that undermine all the rigid rules that are laid down by civilized society and of course the exuberant description and narration of the events, make‘Wuthering Heights’ a must read for those who want to cherish English literature in its pristine and the most beauteous form.


  1. Had reviewed this book sometime back,definitely a wonderful read.

  2. Great review Vaishali. I call this book 'jinxed book' because this has been on my TBR list forever.

  3. Really like the conclusion part of your review, how well you have summarized the things readers would take out from this classic.