A dark and stormy passion that haunts the Yorkshire moors

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 12:00am


Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte
Published by Bantam Dell
ISBN 978-0553212587

Emily Bronte's only novel, Wuthering Heights, is more than just a simple romance.

The story's mixture of love, anguish and vengeance leaves the reader amazed at Bronte's literary craftsmanship. On the downside, some readers may find the plot too complex.

Ever since the book was published in 1847, debate has raged over whether Wuthering Heights was superior to Jane Eyre, the work of Emily's sister Charlotte, which came out the same year.

Both are considered literary classics.

The entire storyline of Wuthering Heights revolves around the almost spiritual affection between the two main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw.

They have contrasting personalities, which make for one of the main themes of the book. Heathcliff is an outsider - a dirty orphan brought up on the streets of the big city of Liverpool - who is adopted by the well-off and respectable Earnshaw family out of pity.

His new sister, Catherine, on the other hand, has always led a comfortable existence at the Earnshaw home, a manor on the Yorkshire moors called Wuthering Heights. Bronte clearly intends to challenge the accepted norms of Victorian society in Wuthering Heights. The author describes Heathcliff and Catherine as a friendless pair.

Unlike their more down-to-earth neighbours, the Lintons, the two like to run wild on the moors, braving the frequently stormy weather.

Yet when the time comes, Catherine finds herself wanting to marry the wealthier Edgar Linton. Her decision thus sets the stage for Heathcliff's brutal and relentless revenge.

Bronte exhibits excellent skill in crafting convincing characters, such as the headstrong but playful Catherine and her nephew, the uncultured yet sensitive Hareton Earnshaw.

The author also makes great use of setting - especially winds and storms - to reflect the often gloomy mood of the novel.

Still, there are elements that may confuse most readers. These include the frequently changing narrators and characters with similar names.

That said, Wuthering Heights is not just your average classic; it is a wild and uncultivated product of Emily Bronte's imagination.

The novel is a powerful reflection of the destructiveness of love, which makes it well worth a read - or two.