I was reading again, a chapter from one of the world’s great literary masterpieces and the once controversial novel of Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights! It was Bronte’s only novel, published in 1847 and the following year saw her passing away from the mortal world. In my eyes, it was the beginning to the end…a masterpiece in every meaning of the word…an uncontrolled pouring of one’s emotions on paper before the mortal world forgets her and her individuality. The influence of the Classic was so overwhelming that before I finished, the winds gushing across the moors were audible and the silhouettes of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, the villainous heroes of the novel, were palely visible against the background of the majestic façade of the Victorian Castle ‘Wuthering Heights’.
I read Wuthering Heights first when I was fourteen years old when it put me on a cathartic journey through the tumultuous natures of human behaviour. Yesterday, on listening to a finely crafted piece of European symphony, I was transported to the memory of English Classics with Wuthering Heights on top of the list. It placed me on that journey again, and the Classic remains as passionate an influence as it had been when I read it for the first time.
For a non-reader, Wuthering Heights spoke the unusual story of a strange couple Heathcliff and Catherine and Catherine’s conflict between choosing a sophisticated husband in Edgar Linton and the rough and passionate love in an uncouth Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by her father Earnshaw as a help. Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights overhearing Catherine’s dilemma about his social inadequacies only to return years later as a man of wealth. His return was darkened by the intention of revenge on Catherine’s husband and brother while he continued to exalt his ability to love her deeply. The untimely death of Catherine doesn’t garner pacification enough to put down his fire of revenge.
The beauty of the literature was in the symbolisms pervading it from beginning to end. Emile Bronte depicted the co-relation between Heathcliff’s character and the violence of moors with a very romantic surrealism. The dynamic nature of the moors signified the violence in Heathcliff’s nature and the tumult in his relationship with Catherine. To so finely entwine the intricacies of protagonists’ characteristics to their land and the house which they dwell in, Ms Bronte might have been deeply impacted by the geography of the place which inspired her to weave a story that would be remembered and celebrated for centuries. This was my take from the humble research into the history of West Yorkshire moors and remnants of the Top Withens farm house which is known to have been the setting for Wuthering Heights. The fictional Thrushcross Grange which housed her beau Edgar Linton was portrayed as the imagery of Linton’s fine family virtues and it was said to be inspired by another hall in Haworth in West Yorkshire. I have gooseflesh, to envision the Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange in the intense emotional reading of the classic and later learn about the actual inspirations in the English County which moved the author to imagine and re-imagine a new world out of it and to construct that story with characters who exploded with unbridled love and wild passion.
I remember, the tragic ending of Wuthering Heights made me carry the heaviness within for a long time and I really didn’t want to let go of it. Bronte says through Catherine vividly, “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it. I am well aware, as winter changes the trees..my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath, a source of little visible delight, but necessary…” …..”He is more myself than I am“. Catherine’s social dilemma was embraced as mine and Heathcliff’s cruelty to avenge for the loss of his one desire was accepted as the demonic side which is in me and every human taken birth in the world. Today, again I am impassioned by the riveting tale and I struggle hard to keep the boundaries distinct between the real and unreal as I feel I have travelled along with Emily Bronte and lived in the Wuthering Heights and the Yorkshire moors for a million times, already!