The Bronte sisters have not written many novels but what have been written are excellent pieces of literary work. Emily Bronte wrote ‘Wuthering Heights’ between October 1845 and June 1846. It was published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, the next year. She did not live long to see the book becoming popular in the literary circles. Emily Bronte died in the year 1847 at the age of thirty. Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ became an instant hit and she edited ‘Wuthering Heights’ and got it published again in 1850. This time it was received well by a larger group of people.
Wuthering Heights has inspired television, radio and film adaptations. A ballet, song, operas and a musical was also created which was inspired by this novel. The story is about love and revenge, where the revenge overshadows the feeling of love. It is a narration of a housekeeper to the tenant about the history of Thrushcross Grange, an estate and Wuthering Heights, a manor. It is about the life of two families and the role of Heathcliff to take possession of both the places and get his sweet revenge.
The narrator Nelly Dean has seen all the incidents in these two houses and her narration makes Mr.Lockwood empathize with the characters of the story so much so that when he eventually leaves Thrushcross Grange he visits the graves of Heathcliff and Catherine. Catherine was the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw . She had a brother – Hindley. The Earnshaws were very compassionate people and one day Mr. Earnshaw brought an orphan into the household. He was Heathcliff and was the same age as Catherine and Hindley. Nelly the narrator was their age as well and good friend of Catherine.
Hindley hates the arrival of Heathcliff but Catherine takes to him even though he was rough and tough and was not suited for the Earnshaw household. But all in the house other than Hindley loved him and Catherine grew extremely fond of him. They began to spend a lot of time together walking in the moor and slowly fell in love with each other. During one such outing they walk near Thrushcross Grange and see Isabella and Edgar of that house. They watch from outside and are suddenly attacked by dogs.
When Edgar and Isabella’s parents know that she was from Wuthering Heights, they take good care of her and send her back after five days. During this time Catherine seems to take a liking for Edgar but she is sure that it not that kind of love she feels for Heathcliff. But as fate would have it Edgar and Catherine get married and Heathcliff goes away. He comes back after a few years and by then he has made a lot of money and has become more presentable. Catherine love is rekindled but she cannot exhibit as she is already married to Edgar.
Time For Revenge
Heathcliff has come to take revenge on Edgar and Catherine but cannot really do anything to Catherine. He marries Isabella much against the wishes of Edgar but treats her like a maid. She is tortured and when it comes to a point of no return she runs away from the house. She gives birth to a child Linton and brings him up away from Heathcliff. Catherine too becomes weak but she also conceives and gives birth to a baby girl who is given the same name. She dies soon after delivery. All through her sickness Heathcliff meets her in spite of Edgar and takes good care of her. With her death he is devastated but vows revenge with more passion.
The children grow up. Linton is brought back to Wuthering Heights after the death of Isabella. Cathy is made to marry Linton through persuasion. Heathcliff knows with that marriage he would finally own both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Linton dies soon after marriage. Cathy finally falls in love with Hindley’s son Hareton and marries him. Towards the end of his life Heathcliff cannot take revenge on Hareton and Cathy because both remind him of Catherine. He dies peacefully giving up the thoughts of revenge and is buried near Catherine. He is seen talking to the ghost of Catherine before his death. Lockwood visits the graves of Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar before leaving the place once and for all.
Characters And Theme
Each of the characters has a powerful role to play with the exception of Isabella. In the next generation only Cathy’s character alone is sketched out well while others are seen as weaklings physically or being illiterate. Catherine and Heathcliff are the real protagonists of the story. Even though Catherine dies young her name and personality still lingers all through the story. Even in the end Heathcliff sees her apparition. It is a story of unrequited love and the revenge of Heathcliff.
Nelly might be a narrator of the story but as it unfolds we realize that she has a very important part. She is responsible in the final reunion of Heathcliff and Catherine. She is very loyal to her master yet she understands the feelings of young maidens and help them fulfill their desires, be it going to the moor or meeting their loved ones. Nelly reflects the feelings of others and her narration is very impartial as is her actions. Lockwood is the silent listener who gets angry with Heathcliff’s cruel ways. Though he goes away hastily, he comes back to see what happens in the end.
The themes that recur in the story are romanticism, nature, spirits, class discrimination and finally revenge. There is an element of revenge in many characters. Hindley at the first instance discriminates Heathcliff and ensures that he is not educated. Heathcliff takes revenge on Hindley first and then on Edgar. He deposes Hindley from Wuthering Heights; ensures Cathy marries his weak and dying son Linton. Before that he marries Isabella, Edgar’s sister and tortures her. With Cathy and Linton marrying Thrushcross Grange also becomes Heathcliff’s property. The grandeur of the plot does not allow the play to be staged but the theatre, musical and opera adaptations have been welcomed by people.