#88 – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte BOOK REVIEW

October 9, 2018
krauserpua

Girls don’t half read shite. You’ve probably heard of the Bronte sisters, a trio of Victorian lasses who each wrote classic romances in the early 1800s. I wasn’t really sure which of the three to start with [1] so I asked myself the obvious question: which one has the best Kate Bush song?

That would be Wuthering Heights, and thus Emily Bronte [2]

My first thoughts on this book were along the lines of oh my god this is so bleak! That’s deliberate. Bronte has done a sterling job in aligning all aspects of her writing to reinforce the feeling of a desolate, bleak, wind-swept moor peopled by a small clutch of disagreeable, bleak characters. Every single character in this story is thoroughly unlikable, even Nelly, the main narrator and Bronte’s ‘voice of reason’ within the total insanity created by the rest of the cast. The story goes thus.

There are two manors next to each other on the windswept Yorkshire moors, Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. The family of the latter are odd balls, being a young man Hindley and his younger sister Catherine. One day, while on a business trip to Liverpool, their dad picks up a street urchin gypsy that he names Heathcliff [3] who is Catherine’s age. For reasons unknown, the dad makes Heathcliff his favourite and that leads to resentment from his siblings, who bully him, as does the manservant Joseph. Thrushcross Grange is inhabited by the Lintons, of whom there are also a son and daughter, Earl and Isabelle, the same age as the other kids. They also hate Heathcliff.

Heathcliff

“Heathcliff, it’s me! Cathy! Come home tonight!”

Hindley goes off for a few years and comes back with a wife who then dies in childbirth to a young lad Hareton. Catherine and Heathcliff start playing together and form a budding romance but she ends up marrying Earl because of his vastly superior station in life and Heathcliff runs off for several years. He returns with mysterious wealth, blackmails the now drunkard Hindley by mortgaging Wuthering Heights for gambling debts, and uses his newfound power over the families to elope with and marry Isabelle. She has his child, named Linton, but escapes him. Catherine gives birth to a daughter, also called Catherine, and dies soon after. By this point it’s clear she and Heathcliff were desperately in love.

Skip forward about 15 years and the next generation has grown up and Heathcliff has used the intervening years to mope around in Wuthering Heights as a recluse, trying his damndest to ruin everyone’s life. His motivation appears to be to take revenge on Hindley by corrupting his son Hareton, and on Earl by ruining his daughter Catherine. For unknown reasons he’s also ruining his own estranged son Linton’s life too, bringing him back to Wuthering Heights. Around this time, a stranger called Lockwood arrives to rent the now untenanted Thrushcross Grange, and he’s the narrator of the first and last few chapters.

wuthering-heights

Look, it’s all a bit complex. Narratively, the book begins with Lockwood’s testimony in the present day, and he gets his housekeeper Nelly to give her testimony into events passed, and she sometimes provides a further layer by recalling testimony of Catherine and Isabelle. I’ll just summarise the key point:

Everyone is an utter cunt.

Heathcliff is the main villain and justifiably so, being a gypsy. What I can’t figure out is (i) why he’s doing this all, even though it ruins his own life, and (ii) why he lives on in culture as some kind of romantic bad boy. He’s a total chode. Okay, he’s dark, ruthless, good-looking and whatnot but his behaviours all smack of oneitis, jealously, zero emotional control, and failing to accomplish anything. He’s as good a candidate for ‘sexy bad boy’ and Walter White is for ‘alpha male’. To think that, you’d have to be brainless [4]. He spends his whole young adulthood failing to shag Catherine, then his middle-age pining over her memory. It’s a lifelong oneitis.

Catherine herself is also an utter cunt. Though the terms didn’t exist back then, Emily Bronte describes her as a character with clear bi-polar disorder and malignant narcissism. The traits are so consistently described that I can only presume Bronte was intimately acquainted with a BPD slut in her own real life. Catherine is constantly toying with others, abusing their politeness, and telling shameless lies, only to fly into rages and then self-pity when busted. It’s not clear if she dies for this reason, working herself into a fit, or if it’s death due to complications in childbirth. I found the book unclear because it spends several chapters presenting her as bedridden due to hysteria but then in a paragraph slips in that she gave birth without having ever mentioned she was pregnant. Weird.

Even the main narrator Nelly, the closest thing this book has to a normal person, is a bit of a cunt. Several times she could’ve prevented catastrophe but her own cupidity and cowardice lets others walk into disaster.

Also notable in this book is the depravity and insanity. It’s essentially two small households in the middle of nowhere. At no point do scenes take place in the nearby village, much less a city. There’s a cloying atmosphere of isolation as these lunatics roam around messing with each other’s minds. No-one ever does the sensible thing. For example, Heathcliff is determined to have his sickly young son [5] married to young Catherine so as to secure her inheritance for himself. Earl is adamantly opposed to this and….. does nothing. He tumbles to the plan before Catherine has developed any affection for Linton but just continues to live on the next manor over, doing nothing about it. He doesn’t send her off to boarding school, or into the village, or move house. They just wait like sitting ducks until events turn Heathcliff’s way.

I spent most of this book muttering under my breath, “just tell him to fuck off.” Mind you, the book would be only two chapters long in that case so I guess the canon of English literature is fortunate Bronte never considered that as an appropriate response.

Scary shit mate

This nails the book’s mood

Given how isolated the farmhouses are, and how depraved the inhabitants, I’m amazed there are no rape scenes. Several times that would be the obvious way for Heathcliff to achieve his ends. I suspect this is more due to Bronte writing the book in the early 1800s and thus not able to pass censorship. It’s not like gypsies ever shy away from rape, kidnapping, and using white girls as sex slaves [6]

If it was Emily Bronte’s intention to write a dark romance then I think she failed miserably and her legion of fans through the ages are morons. However, if she instead wished to paint a nightmarish picture of isolated countryside life and the dangers of living as a recluse, she admirably succeeded. I enjoyed this book and finished it in 24 hours.

If you’d like a story about an English bad boy who manipulates pretty young women into bed against their better judgement then consider my memoir series. Readers in the USA should go to my user-friendly site here. Readers in all other countries should go here.

[1] When forced to choose between three girls, I always go for the one with the biggest tits. However, there are no photos of this trio.
[2] I’ve yet to see anyone but Ms Bush hit the right notes on this song.
[3] A literal gypsy, in all it’s connotations of dirty skin, evil soul, and constant thievery.
[4] But remember, it’s written for women.
[5] A clear case of the Jungian ‘high-chair tyrant’
[6] I have a Romanian ex-girlfriend whose best friend in junior high school was kidnapped by gypsies while walking home, then sold into sex slavery in Italy, and only rescued by her father two years later.

2 Comments

  1. Great write up. It read smoothly and was fun as hell!

  2. Where do you buy your books from? [Kindle, Amazon, ebay, abe, bookshops. K.]

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