Monday, May 13, 2019

Opinions on a Brontë Classic

Wuthering Heights (1939)
From Lit Hub:
The plot of Wuthering Heights is immensely complicated and yet there is the most felicitous union of author and subject. There is nothing quite like this novel with its rage and ragings, its discontent and angry restlessness. 
Wuthering Heights is a virgin’s story. The peculiarity of it lies in the harshness of the characters. Cathy is as hard, careless, and destructive as Heathcliff. She too has a sadistic nature. The love the two feel for each other is a longing for an impossible completion. Consolations do not appear; nothing in the domestic or even in the sexual life seems to the point in this book. Emily Brontë appears in every way indifferent to the need for love and companionship that tortured the lives of her sisters. We do not, in her biography, even look for a lover as we do with Emily Dickinson because it is impossible to join her with a man, with a secret, aching passion for a young curate or a schoolmaster. There is a spare, inviolate center, a harder resignation amounting finally to withdrawal.
(Read more.)

From Owlcation:
Wuthering Heights is a gothic tale full of mystery and intrigue. Perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of all involves Heathcliff himself. Where did he come from? Who were his parents? And did the author, Emily Bronte, provide clues? That latter question is one of the most interesting. The work is a master showcasing of "show not tell." Instead of telling readers what people are made of or what is going to happen, Bronte shows it in master storytelling. She does this through her characters' words and actions, through foreshadowing, through symbolism and through clues. The more one studies this work, the more one realizes that Bronte was a subtle writer. She knew that perceptive readers would read between the lines and discover that much more was going on below the surface. This is in keeping with the gothic nature of this work. She doesn't insult readers' intelligence by spelling it out for them but rather, allows them to make their own discoveries and their own decisions about what they find. And the deeper they delve into this novel, the more they discover. (Read more.) 

Another opinion. From The Conversation:
To this day, Emily Brontë’s life story and literature continue to exert a powerful hold on the imaginations of audiences worldwide. One reason for the longevity of this fascination is the air of mystery that envelops the author and her work. Who was Emily Brontë? What does her famous novel, Wuthering Heights, mean? And how could a reclusive curate’s daughter, living on the edge of the Yorkshire moors, have written this mysterious tale of passion and revenge? 
In 1896, literary critic Clement Shorter dubbed Emily “the sphinx of our modern literature”. She died early, leaving behind only a few diary papers and letters, in addition to her novel and poetry. By contrast, we have volumes of letters from her sister Charlotte, telling us about her life in her own words. Emily was private, reclusive, and difficult to understand. But the strength of collective desire to uncover who she really was, and how she came to create her masterpiece, inadvertently also gave rise to one of the coarsest and most curious legends to have attached itself to the Brontë family – the myth that Wuthering Heights was the product of incestuous longings. (Read more.) 

From Medium:
Despite their damaging toxicity, Catherine and Heathcliff are soul mates. They belong together but not as lovers. It’s an idolized, obsessive connection. As this Bustle article explains: They [Heathcliff and Catherine] strive to transcend the boundaries of human subjectivity and physicality — to become something that is other and only them. Their relationship in the novel is strange and fascinating, but it’s not love. 
There is zero indication that Catherine or Heathcliff have romantic, sexual chemistry. They aren’t physically attracted to one another like Catherine is to Edgar Linton (the man she marries), and since she is pregnant and dies after giving birth, we, as readers, know Catherine has had sex. 
In fact, if you analyze this story from a historical lens (which is important since mores, morals, and day-to-day living was different), a modern audience might better understand that Victorian-era audiences considered the “opposites attract” rule to be the epitome of romantic love. "… Because he’s [Heathcliff’s] more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and [Edgar’s] is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire." 
Heathcliff and Catherine are the same; therefore, theirs is a platonic love, while Catherine and Linton are opposites and therefore more symbolic of Victorian-era romantic love. Catherine says: "I am Heathcliff. He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being." And that, straight from the horse’s mouth, carries the weight of the point: this is not a romance. Catherine and Heathcliff, though linked by their souls, have an eerily incestuous, deeply codependent, dangerously toxic, and (at times) hostilely platonic relationship. 
The only reason we consider Wuthering Heights a romance is because of moody film adaptations and bad high school English teachers. So, I plead with you all, the betrothed, married, and stupid-in-love couples of the world, please stop using this quote to describe your relationship. (Read more.) 

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