When I was still living in New Jersey, my local library in Hamilton was a great 70’s-style monolith with a consistently well-stocked and cheap used book sale. I think I spent a good $20 over the course of a few months of $0.05 books. One of my acquisitions was a 1980’s cheap paperback printing of Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights, a must-read that had eluded me all of these years. Finally, around Christmastime 2009, I began reading this dense but juicy volume, and it’s taken me the better part of 4 months to finish it, with my usual on-and-off reading habits.
I had no idea just how very feisty and, quite frankly, dysfunctional, these characters would be. For those of you who haven’t read it yet [potential SPOILER alert], it is about Cathy and Heathcliff, childhood best friends. Deep down, they love each other, but they refuse their hearts and go with their vanity and greed, respectively, and marry other people (a brother and sister, in fact.)
Just like the trailer park stereotype (except set in a leisurely country mansion), Heathcliff and Cathy’s brother Hindley fight like dogs, and even endanger the life of Hindley’s baby with their escapades. Cathy is the picture of indecisiveness, and flutters between potential husbands until she finally chooses the richer of the two.
Fast forward one generation, and Cathy’s daughter dotes on Heathcliff’s pathetic son. No, these first cousins aren’t discouraged from their union based on blood relation. Eventually, they’re allowed to marry. Long story short, little sick-man dies of a sniffle and Cathy marries her other first cousin. I enjoyed Wuthering Heights, but it was hard to get to the back cover. What I learned: Is there really that much of a lack of eligible bachelors in England?
Some of my favorite passages (based on Bantam Classic paperback version shown above in photo):
‘I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other. I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our soults are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightening, or frost from fire.’ (Cathy). Bella from Twilight totally quoted this too, despite her general inability to think outside of her own self. (73)
-‘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.’ (Cathy) Another Bella melodrama. (74-75)
-‘The moment her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drank his blood! But, till then – if you don’t believe me, you don’t know me – till then, I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his head!’ (136) Totally makes more sense here than in Twilight reference.
-I used to draw a comparison between him [Linton] and Hindley Earnshaw, and perplex myself to explain satisfactorily why their conduct was so opposite in similar circumstances. They had both been fond husbands, and were both attached to their children; and I could not see how they shouldn’t both have taken the same road, for good or evil. But, I thought in my mind, Hindley, with apparently the stronger head, has shown himself sadly the worse and the weaker man. When his ship struck, the captain abandoned his post; and the crew, instead of trying to save her, rushed into riot and confusion, leaving no hope for their luckless vessel. Linton, on the contrary, displayed the true courage of a loyal and faithful soul: he trusted God; and God comforted him. One hoped, and the other despaired: they chose their own lots, and were righteously doomed to endure them. (169)
shoon (286) Whoa. Emily was right! Before “shoes” became part of common usage, “shoon” totally was the plural of “shoe.” How awesome is that?!? *geekfest*