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1.2 Critical review of Wuthering Heights
Initially, many critics believed that ‘Wuthering Heights’ was written by a man, because of the odd pseudonym. In the information below, also, ‘Wuthering Heights’ comes under realism and romanticism, but it contains many elements and ideas from the Gothic novel. The novel revolves around the strange love story between Catherine and Heathcliff, this love having a great impact on the other characters. This love is very hard to characterize; from many critics’ points of view, we cannot know for sure if this love drives them mad or not. Also, both of them identify themselves with each other and this can be seen when Catherine says ‘I am Heathcliff’. This is a good reason to explain the fast closeness between them. In the information below, I will present some few important critical reviews by common men and also my opinion regarding their ideas.
Many people who criticized this novel affirm that ‘Wuthering Heights’ is a weird book. Some of them said that ‘it is impossible to begin and not to finish it’, and I agree with that because it is a fascinating novel, which keeps you out of breath till the end. This quote is true because of the author’s thinking. From my point of view, it is important the language used in the text, all the description of places, characters, feelings, but also, it is very important the style and the way in which Emily Bronte wrote. She knew how to highlight some paragraphs, ideas and even certain words. All of these are full of emotions, and at the same time, with information. I consider that ‘Wuthering Heights’ is that type of book which once you have begun to read, you cannot leave it from your hands.
Another critic affirms that ‘there is not only one enigma in the story, the story itself is an enigma’. From my point of view, this means that the book has a lot of secrets, a lot of profound thoughts and ethics; and I think that we can find them if we read the book more than one time. When I finished the book, I realized that I had to go back to the beginning, because I involuntarily skipped over some important passages. And because I wanted to understand every detail, I read the book one more time. The book teaches us a lesson, a very beautiful life lesson, but we need to understand some details which Emily gives us. The entire plot is hiding a profound signification, which can’t be seen at first reading.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a British poet, and translator, admired and liked the book, saying that he is ‘greatly interested in Wuthering Heights, the first novel I’ve read for an age, and the best […] for two ages […] an incredible monster, combining all the stronger female tendencies […] The action is laid in hell – only it seems places and people have English names there’. I agree with this statement because I had the same opinion right from the beginning. She is really a strong woman and I gave details about it in the previous chapter. The last sentence impressed me and amused me a lot. It is true that the place in the book and all the events are like a hell and the characters who take part in the action are like demons but have English names. It’s like a modern hell on the earth. This comparison between hell and action is a very good one. And the scenes with the ghosts from the beginning and from the end support this idea of hell.
Also, many magazines from that period wrote reviews about the book, especially because it was written by a woman. Magazines and newspapers such as Graham’s Lady Magazine, The Atlas, The American Whig Review, Douglas Jerrold’s Weekly Newspaper or Literary World also wrote about the book. But a Graham’s Lady Magazine’s statement attracted my attention: ‘How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.’. From my point of view, this means that Emily Bronte had a great and strong personality and thinking. She was capable of writing as a mad or loving person; she put herself in the shoes of many different characters in the story. Leaving aside her great talent to write, I think she still has a dose of insanity in her. I consider that a normal person, with the head on the shoulders, couldn’t write such a story.
Every man and woman, famous or not should have an opinion about ‘Wuthering Heights’. It is a story that gives you food for thought. Involuntarily, speaking about the book, we become little critics, even if we are not officially. The book gives different impressions to people who read the book and until now I have heard and read only beautiful impressions. According to people, this story will always be a classic and also one of the most important books which were written in the Victorian Age.
1.3 Themes in Wuthering Heights
As other books, Wuthering Heights has many themes. Even if the book is focused on the love between Heathcliff and Catherine, I found many other interesting themes. Besides love, the revenge is another important theme in the book. In the information below, I will present you some themes with details which strongly affected me.
I will start by telling you about love and passion in the book. Love appears in the form of several types of love with different intensities. For example, the love between Heathcliff and Catherine, as I said before, is a destructive love. Everybody was against their love because they had a strange love; they were violent, doing unusual stuff which was not accepted by the others. Referring to this kind of love, the love between Catherine and Edgar was civilized and constructive. From my point of view, in their love, I found peace and comfort on all sides. Also, their love was accepted by the others. The love between Cathy and Linton is another type of love. It’s like a father-daughter love. I consider that Linton wants Cathy to marry him because he wants to protect her, and love her as a ‘mother’. I think that Linton didn’t receive the love he wanted from his parents and that’s why he was doing that with Cathy. And the last but not the least, the love between Cathy and Hareton is the most beautiful one. Their love is open-hearted and innocent and equilibrates all the loves above-mentioned. Their love contains the passion without destructiveness between Heathcliff and Catherine, the fineness and the tenderness without inequality between Edgar and Catherine.
The social class is another important theme in the story. In the Victorian period, a great emphasis was placed on social classes and it was, somehow, a family heritage. I mean that if I was born in a rich family in that time, I was rich too in the future and if I was born in a poor family, I was poor too. This thing doesn’t change at all. But in the story, the characters tried to change their social class; a strong example for this is Heathcliff. The social class is very well defined in the book, except for Heathcliff. When he returns rich, he surprises everyone, but his personality was the same; he has the countryman’s personality.
The revenge is one of the main themes in Wuthering Heights. It seems that the revenge didn’t bring anything good, only worse. This was the weapon of the many characters’ death. I will start saying about Heathcliff. Nelly, the narrator from the book, tells about Heathcliff and his revenge. He ruined Hindley by taking Wuthering Heights; also, he refused Hareton’s education (Hindley’s son). The marriage with Isabella was also a weapon of revenge because Catherine married Edgar Linton. Catherine’s ghost makes Heathcliff worse. He tried to separate Cathy and Linton because he thought they don’t deserve to be happy. But Heathcliff figures out in the end that the revenge is useless. He gives up, and only when he finds the true love and peace. He was finally happy in the other world. Also, Catherine’s revenge is not good. She blames Heathcliff and Edgar Linton for her early death, and also, I think that her double personality killed her because she didn’t know how to divide between them and this thing driven her mad. ‘You and Edgar broke my heart, Heathcliff! […] You have killed me – and thriven on it’. She had a miserable death. She remained captive on the earth for 20 years because she couldn’t find peace and happiness in revenge. Hindley hated Heathcliff since they were children. He denied Heathcliff’s education and love for Catherine and this led to bankruptcy. After the all above-mentioned, the revenge didn’t help with anything to achieve the characters’ goals.
Another theme is the forces of nature: storm and calm, which are transposed in two kinds of characters; Wuthering Heights with the people from there represent the storm and the Thrushcross Grange with the people who live there represent the calm. This difference can be seen very clearly and often in the characters’ actions. I think that the obsession of Heathcliff can be also an important theme. And this theme is in connection with the theme above-mentioned. Heathcliff feels for Catherine two different feelings: love and hate (which is expressed by his desire for revenge). Since they were children, Catherine was the center of Heathcliff’s life. And because they couldn’t be together, his obsession advanced more and more. Somehow, his obsession with revenge is completed by the obsession for love, and that’s why he couldn’t pass over until the end. In conclusion, there were many other themes, but I chose to talk about those I like. I consider that this book is full of elements, motives, and themes which make from this book, a masterpiece of Emily Bronte and also of the Victorian period.