Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Posted by lea at 1:57 PM
Let's start with the main characters. Heathcliff and Cathy are the most vile, melodramatic, selfish and unnecessary creations in literary history. There isn't a single appealing aspect of their characters, and their so-called 'love' is shallow and self-torturing. Heathcliff, cried up by the author as such a dark and tortured character, is simply one-dimensional and boring as hell (except when he's being domestically violent). He's an immature stamp-footy cry-baby who never gets over his forced separation with Cathy, won't stay away and let her be happy with her choice of husband, and then interferes with their offspring for his own dastardly delight. Bastardly, more like. He is simply pathetic, and not in the good literary 'pathos' kind of way.
Their offspring are almost as bad. The second Cathy is more forgivable, but by God how many times did you want to slap Linton across his weak-willed, self-pitying face? The trashy schoolgirl ending with the ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy undo the goodwill of Heathcliff's redemption in allowing Hareton and Cathy II to get together.
It's my understanding that Emily Bronte gained publication of her manuscript off the back of her sisters' successes, and in the early days, there was a widespread belief that Wuthering Heights was in fact an earlier, more immature work of her sister Charlotte. This is no wonder, because her attempt at writing in Wuthering Heights is abysmal. Case in point: the original narrator is the self-proclaimed hermit Mr Lockwood, whose heightened curiosity about Wuthering Heights and its inhabitants is unlikely from the first. He re-tells the story as told to him by the servant Nelly Dean, and at points of the narration, Nelly Dean re-tells someone else's version of the story, so you have a narration-within-a-narration-within-a-narration situation, yet the style of writing never changes. When Joseph speaks in this thick almost-unintelligible brogue, every storyteller reproduces it faithfully. This stretches the imagination of even the most gullible.
The entire story is suffocatingly small both in scope and nature, and the fact that it was even published is astonishing, let alone its success in the past 150 years and the number of people who defend its 'complexity and depth'. For me, it was a waste of time and even the $3.50 I bought it for.