Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's difficult to comment on such a classic without sounding trite. I have to say, though, that I find Heathcliff to be one of the most compelling characters out there. I didn't find him immediately evil and, in fact, I rather felt for the guy up until he gets physical with his soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Those intense feelings of jealousy and consternation over the ambiguities of his friend/love, as well as the injured sense of justice that he holds - honestly, I've felt all those things rather deeply, at times (more particularly in my teenage years). I felt a great deal of sympathy for the man.
Then things suddenly went wrong. His manipulations of conversations, others' weaknesses, and legalities I can understand, though I myself would never use such tactics. But when he gets downright physically abusive, he crossed the line from emo-with-a-cause to bullying jerk. Suddenly, I found myself despising the man.
In the end, though, I again found myself sympathetic to his madness. The obsession and drive that kept him alive, yearning, and reaching for "his" Catherine were qualities to be admired, to some degree, though with eyes averted enough that onlookers won't think that they are being admired. I found it fitting that this same drive pushed him closer and closer to the death he secretly welcomed. The closer he came to seeing Catherine again, the closer he came to death, and the happier he was. Heathcliff was everything an emo aspires to, always reaching for the unattainable and only satisfied when dying in the process.
Yes, there are a plethora of other characters, each with their own complexity (I am a particular fan of Catherine Earnshaw, a marvelously complex person), but the real action, the real driver behind it all is Heathcliff. Love him or hate him or vacillate back and forth (like I did), he is the engine behind the plot and forms the other characters (sometimes by carving through them).
As far as the writing goes, it's Victorian writing - overwrought, purple, baroque, at times tedious, at times brilliant. My only complaint was the insistence on phonetically spelling out some of the thicker Yorkshire accents. This became a little over the top and I found myself skimming whenever Joseph spoke.
And there's that self-righteous Nelly. Argh. If I had Nelly nagging me and preachifying all the time I might just find myself digging up the body of my dead former girlfriend and . . . well, that explains a whole lot, doesn't it?
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