Well, I finished it!
It deserves a nice write up, so here we go…
First off, I liked Jane Eyre better, I think…There was a little more character development I feel, at least in the main characters. I feel like the reader was able to enter into the heads of the characters more. Granted, Jane Eyre is written coming from the voice of the main character, rather than from the voice of an outsider looking on like Wuthering Heights.
However, there is something underneath Emily Bronte’s characters as well.
Heathcliff for one, is a very layered onion. For some reason, I found him extremely fascinating. A friend who recommended the book to me said that he was the most horrible, wicked person you could think of, but for some reason she loved him.
I found that this was not far from the mark. It was interesting, Bronte was almost able to make the reader feel for Heathcliff like Cathering Earnshaw/Linton felt for him. She knew he was awful, but she couldn’t seem to let him go. He had a sort of sinister power. To me, though he is a much worse character than Severus Snape, it felt a little like that ‘Oh, please be redeemable!’ feeling you get for the bad guys sometimes. (Side note: I was never so happy when I found out that Snape was a good guy! I love when that happens-the seemingly unredeemable becomes redeemed!)
So, I was kind of disappointed that Heathcliff never came around in the end.
However, the manner in which he dwindled and then finally died started me thinking about who the real antagonist in the story is. Heathcliff definitely is one of them, one of the worst, but it because of Catherine Earnshaw that he finally dwindles into a deadly madness. However, I can’t decide whether or not that is because she, like him, had a sort of power of people, or if Heathcliff’s madness is actually brought on by himself–He is too passionate, too clenching; if something is to be his, it must be completely and utterly consumed by him. He loves too much, so that it isn’t love any more but obsession.
What I want to know it, where did this come from? He was spoiled by his adoptive father, and mistreated by his adopted brother, but it seems to me that these things should not have made him into the sort of man he became. The only thing that stands out to me is that in the midst of Heathcliff’s mistreatment, Catherine was a friend to him. His only friend, really. Perhaps the whole ruining of character began out of fear of losing the one thing that was solid in his life.
So really in the end, all he needed was a hug. :-p I’m still not sure if he is a tragic figure though, because he is so terribly bad…
Anyway, here are a few more things that I liked/noticed in the book:
* I was somewhat consoled in my disappointment that Heathcliff died unredeemed by the fact that Catherine Linton/Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw were. That was one of the things that began to make me dislike Heathcliff at the end, was his ruining of Catherine’s good character. I was glad that those two were able to become friends. I think Hareton is one of the most pityable characters in the book, and his redemption shows that a bad character brought on by mistreatment as a child could be amended (so if Heathcliff had allowed himself to be reached by someone else besides Catherine Earnshaw, perhaps he could have come around after all).
* I noticed a pronounced difference in Emily Bronte’s female characters and Charlotte Bronte’s. Jane Eyre is a strong character, and I found the Catherines in Wuthering Heights to be rather lacking. Bother were so easily manipulated, and could not put aside pity long enough to use good judgment. (Side note: When Cathering Linton/Heathcliff first began visiting with Linton Heathcliff, it reminded so much of Mary Lennox and Colin in The Secret Garden! I mean, wow!)
* Just to throw in a little Post-colonial look at the story, I noticed that Heathcliff, the ruiner-of-happiness in the story is portrayed as dark; he is a ‘gipsy’ child that Mr. Earnshaw Sr. finds in the street and takes in. In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester’s mad wife whose existence creates a great deal of heartache is also dark, described as a creole. What’s with foreigners being the bad guys?
I have some possible ideas about why Emily Bronte made Heathcliff ‘foreign.’
1. She was racist, but that isn’t very much fun to analyse, is it?
2. She needed a character who didn’t have a traceable background, (Though that could have created a cool twist in the story) and making him an abandoned gypsy child would have made is near impossible to find out what his real lineage was, since his parents were most likely long gone, and had no way of being tracked. It added a bit of mystery to his character. In Emily Bronte’s day, my guess is that foreigners were just that, foreign and a bit mysterious. I’m not convinced that Bronte was thinking “I need a bad guy, so I’ll make him dark skinned, because dark skinned people are bad.” I think more likely she was looking for a way to make her character more mysterious. But of course, you can’t know anything for sure.
Well, I think that is all I have to say about it for now.
It was a good read.