Friday, January 4, 2013

Wuthering Heights

I read Wuthering Heights every Christmas.  And it's really kind of silly that I still read it this Christmas, because we're studying it in my British Literature class later this semester.  Did I let that stop me?  Absolutely not.

I love this book.  It's definitely in my top five, maybe even my top two, if you discount all of the Harry Potter books.  There's just something about the wild romanticism of the English moors, the winter air that bites through you, the rain that soaks you to the bone, the glow of a dying fire in the kitchen at night, that you can literally feel from your armchair.  And most of all, there is Heathcliff and Cathy's tragic romance that you can't help but feel in some deep, forbidden place in the heart that many people forget exists.  That is why I love Wuthering Heights.  Emily Brontë reminds us what it means to be human: what it means to love and lose, how a person can be driven mad and then saved by love's powerful embrace.

I get why people hate this book.  I really do.  It is confusing as all get out.  There's flashbacks, changing narrators, way to many characters whose names begin with H (Heathcliff, Hareton, Hindley), Heathcliff is in itself a first name and a surname, Hareton and Hindley both sound like surnames but they're first names, and the air is literally "swarming with Catherines:" there are two, and they both go by Cathy.  It's incredibly daunting.  I understand why people need to read the Sparknotes after every chapter to make sure they "got it."  I glanced at them more than once my first time through the book.  But every time I read it, it gets easier and easier.  I no longer need the family tree in front of me to know who belongs to whom (although if this is your first or second time through the book, I would keep that handy).  And as the plot and the character relationships become easier, I find more and more to love about the book.  Every time I read it I underline a different passage that speaks to me, a different character to explore further.  Wuthering Heights never gets old to me.

If anything else, this is a book you should read just to say you've read it.  It's on all of those "books you must read before you die" lists, it's a canonized classic of British literature, and you can brag about it to your friends.  Okay, the last one is iffy.  I don't know what kinds of friends you hang out with, they may not appreciate the tragic genius that is Emily Brontë.

Anyway, there's my love letter to Wuthering Heights.  I can't wait to read it again for class this spring, and then pick it up again next Christmas.

Read forever,
E.

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