70. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights (1847) is a story of evil and revenge. It tells the story of Heathcliff and his revenge on the Earnshaws of Wuthering Heights and Lintons of Thrushcross Grange. Having been picked from the streets of Liverpool, Mr Earnshaw showed extraordinary love to Heathcliff to the despise of his children Catherine and Hindley. Later when Mr. Earnshaw died and Hindley became the Master of Wuthering Heights he set out to maltreat Heathcliff. Things spiralled out of control when Catherine Earnshaw chose to marry Edgar Linton of Thrushcross Grange rather than Heathcliff to whom she had become attached, almost sharing a soul, because he was poor and not a gentleman. Overhearing Catherine's decision to marry Edgar Linton, Heathcliff left home. He, however, came at an opportune when Hindley's wife, Frances Earnshaw, had died and the former was moving headlong into deterioration, caring about nothing, not even his son Hareton Earnshaw. This was when Heathcliff's revenge started. Having come into money, he lent a lot of it to Hindley who had become addicted to alcohol and gambling, using the Wuthering Heights and its Estate as collateral. At his death, which Heathcliff perhaps, precipitated, all the estate became his property. Before these events, Heathcliff had deceived delusional Isabella Linton, sister of Edgar Linton, to marry him and the pair had eloped. After marriage, Heathcliff maltreated Isabella till she fled to a different town. Before Isabella's death in exile she bore a son, Heathcliff Linton - a weakling who would survive none. Edgar and Catherine also gave birth to Catherine Linton. Heathcliff hearing of his son's arrival at Thrushcross Grange, after the death of Isabella, sent for his son but not before he had met Catherine Linton. It was this son that he would use to complete his planned revenge. He encouraged a relationship between Catherine Linton and Heathcliff Linton, forcing the former to marry his son under very weird circumstances. It was during this period that Edgar Linton, whose wife had earlier died after delivering Catherine Linton, also died. Married to his son, Thrushcross Grange became the property of Heathcliff Linton. However, later we are to find that the Thrushcross property has also become Heathcliff's when his son died. Thus, he who came to Wuthering Heights, a gypsy and almost a beggar, came to possess it and all the lands around it.
This is a novel of complex relations, almost like inbreeding. The story had two narrators, the primary narrator was Lockwood who had come to rent Thrushcross and had dreamt of the ghost of Mrs Linton (Catherine Earnshaw) after visiting his landlord, Heathcliff. The other is Mrs Ellen Dean, who had grown up with Catherine and Hindley when her mother came to work for the Earnshaws. Mrs Dean narrated the majority of the story. As to how Mrs Dean was able to memorise all the specific conversations and retell it, I don't know and this bothered me whilst I read the story. Also, perhaps I missed it in the reading, I don't know what happened to the first Mrs. Earnshaw. Her name was mentioned twice or thrice. And though Nelly (or Mrs Ellen Dean) was as young as the Earnshaws we never got to know when she herself married. An important event like that shouldn't have passed unmentioned; besides, she was the narrator.
In this is a story, I never really liked any character. In fact I hated them all. They seemed to be all dullards. Mrs Dean seem to have sown the seed of hatred in Heathcliff right from the onset when he informed him how much stronger he was than Edgar and how he could easily beat Edgar to pulp, when the Lintons came to visit at Wuthering Heights. She also took certain important decisions into her own hands without informing those concern. She was the one who allowed Catherine Linton (Edgar's daughter) to visit Heathcliff Linton, knowing very well that Edgar had warned her daughter not to go there and knowing full well the enmity that existed between Edgar and Heathcliff. She was even the one who escorted Catherine Linton into Heathcliff's home at Wuthering Heights before he could imprison them and force Catherine to marry his son; a son he so much despised. Catherin Earnshaw herself was the worst culprit in this cycle of folly. She loved Heathcliff the most, yet did not marry him. Most of her speeches almost sounded delusional, especially when she was quite prepared to see her husband beaten by Heathcliff. It almost sounded unreal. Heathcliff's detestation is obvious. He was manipulative and wicked and seemed to thrive on evil. He never forgave anything and revelled in his nefarious achievements. His so-called love for Catherine, to me, borders on insanity. He really was insane, drunk with wickedness. Cathy (Edgar's daughter) was a little likable and he knew not most of the events leading to the enmity between her father and her 'uncle', though when she got to know it she behaved well except that she was too full of herself to trust her own ability, causing the death of her father.
Another thing I detested, which made me nearly abandoned this book, was Joseph's dialect. I could never understand anything he said, until I searched for and printed a transcription of this speeches. If there is an international version, I wish I had read that one or one in which the translation was part of the book.
Though it ended on a sound note, after many had died including Heathcliff, and after Catherine Heathcliff had married his cousin Hareton Earnshaw, I did not like this book as much as I did Pride and Prejudice. I hope Jane Eyre would be very different as I have that on my shelf though it is not on any challenge list.
For the Top 100 Books Challenge
For the Top 100 Books Challenge