Gabrielle Dubois' review:
Wuthering Heights: “This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist’s heaven…”
Here’s the first sentence of the novel and it gives us the tone:
Heaven or hell? Desolate or romantic land? Love or hate? Humanity or animality? Wuthering Heights is a mixture and a permanent battle between each of these opposites.
Nothing is flat, easy, quiet, lukewarm; everything is mountainous, bitter, tormented, violent.
There’s no way inhabitants from the land would like to leave or even think about leaving their country; there’s no way the reader would think of giving up the book or even would like to stop reading to get some rest!
Why? Here are some reasons among many others:
The way E. Brontë describes Mr. Lockwood’s night filled with nightmares which he spends in Wuthering Heights, in the late Catherine's room, is very gothic. Neither the sleeper nor the reader really knows if it is a nightmare or if a spirit is really trying to catch the sleeper's hand. But as I'm not very inclined towards this genre, what I preferred is the touch of humour by E. Brontë who concludes, when Heathcliff calls Cathy:
“The spectre showed a spectre’s ordinary caprice: it gave no sign of being.”
For the extraordinary portrait of Heathcliff on chapter VIII:
“He had reached the age of sixteen and without having bad features, or being deficient in intellect, he contrived to convey an impression of inward and outward repulsiveness. In the first place, he had by that time lost the benefit of his early education: continual hard work, begun soon and concluded late, had extinguished any curiosity he once possessed in pursuit of knowledge, and any love for books or learning. His childhood’s sense of superiority, instilled into him by the favours of old Mr. Earnshaw, was faded away. He struggled long to keep up an equality with Catherine in her studies, and yielded with poignant though silent regret: but he yielded completely; and there was no prevailing on him to take a step in the way of moving upward, when he found he must, necessarily, sink beneath his former level. Then personal appearance sympathised with mental deterioration: he acquired a slouching gait and ignoble look; his naturally reserved disposition was exaggerated into an almost idiotic excess of unsociable moroseness; and he took a grim pleasure, apparently, in exciting the aversion rather than the esteem of his few acquaintances.”
Emily Brontë is such an insightful author!
Nelly says to young Heathcliff:
“A good heart will help you to a bonny face, my lad,’ I continued, ‘if you were a regular black; and a bad one will turn the bonniest into something worse than ugly.”
Or to Mr Lockwood:
“You shouldn’t lie till ten. There’s the very prime of the morning gone long before that time. A person who has not done one-half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.”
Oh, what a wise woman she can be!
What happiness and peace brings belief in a life after death:
“… I am seldom otherwise than happy while watching in the chamber of death, should no frenzied or despairing mourner share the duty with me. I see a repose that neither earth nor hell can break, and I feel an assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter—the Eternity they have entered—where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in its fulness.”
And most of all, that such sentences are so good to read in the middle of a novel so dark and desperate!
To be noticed, in Chapter 8, Heathcliff's physical, mental, and intellectual deterioration is intelligently described and wonderfully written.
Hats off, Emily Brontë!
Link to Goodreads review