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Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

In the original preface of Emily Bronte’s novel, Wuthering Heights, her sister Charlotte Bronte wrote of the flawed hero within this dark, gothic tale:

“Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is.”

In 1847, under the pseudonym of Ellis Bell, Emily Bronte unleashed the wild, passionate and brooding ‘hero’ Heathcliff upon polite society. The fifty shades of Heathcliff- enigmatic, ruggedly handsome, physically strong, passionate and wild, but also cruel with a heart twisted by jealousy and resentment.

His impassioned love for Cathy Earnshaw and her subsequent rejection of him unleashed a vindictive force. Many films represent Heathcliff as this misunderstood romantic; however, there is something more of a darker nature expressed in the pages of Bronte’s novel. It is the elemental darkness of his nature that grips the imagination. Match this with the brooding landscape of the Yorkshire moors and you have the perfect setting for a wild romance.

This tale has so many twists and turns that it is hard to do it justice in a review. But at the crux of this novel is a story of a man who inflicts pain and misery upon all those connected with his lost love, Cathy.

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Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight is said to be a ‘vampirish’ copy of this volatile story of love, but Meyer’s fiction pales in comparison to the complexity of Bronte’s timeless classic. Similarly, E.L James’ Fifty Shades trilogy designs a deeply troubled character that inflicts pain (of a different kind) under the facade of lust or love. In a modern world, it could be argued that neither of these stories really do justice to women. That debate is for another time.

Emily Bronte is a woman to be admired. Her intellect and genius imagined this tale- she had no help from fan fiction. She did not ‘dumb down’ her style of language for her female readers. She worked those words so that we would be trapped between a desire for Heathcliff, and repulsion for the dark thoughts festering within him.

Read this classic tale. It’s a challenge, but, a privilege.

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