Wuthering Heights

What is a ‘wuther’ exactly, and why are these Heights Wuthering? Is it some kind of present-tense form of ‘wither’? Do the Heights of this home ‘wither’ in agony because of all the pain, heartbreak and madness that has taken place under its roof?

You need look no further, dear reader, for I have the answer right here, quoted from Emily Bronte herself, ‘Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr Heathcliffe’s dwelling, “Wuthering” being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.” (Wuthering Heights)

I first read Wuthering Heights when I was a wee tot of ten years old. I was at the age where I had mercilessly devoured all the normal, nice children books my parents had bought in bulk from charity shops at 5p each and filled my bookshelves with. I was tired of goody two shoes Enid Blyton characters and children playing detective.

I was living in a country where English books were a rarity, and you could only find really expensive recent editions. I loved old editions. Recent editions do nothing for me. They look like they’re trying too hard to appeal to the children of today who care only for how a book looks, who are only interested in something if it matches the technicolour of the TV cartoons that a lot of them are constantly glued to.

I like my books with plain, faded covers and yellowed pages that are well loved and smell slightly musty.

My father had a bookshelf filled with classics that my parents were dubious about sharing with us children. William Golding was too deep for us. The Mill on the Floss was “not for your age, yet, Len”, Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey was definitely not suitable subject matter for sensitive minds. And Wuthering Heights? Good fried grief.

I read all those titles and more hiding in the corner between my desk and the metal framed window, the heat of the sun beating outside and warming my bedroom walls, even though the air conditioning was on full blast. If there was somebody in my room, I snuck into my wardrobe (I was small then, I fit perfectly!) with my reading light (2 dirhams at a bazaar) and read till my eyes were sore.

It was in the wardrobe that I became acquainted with Emily Bronte’s Catherine and Heathcliff. It was wildly abhorrent, yet so enticing. I kept waiting for the redemption of the characters, for them to come together at last, in harmony, their misunderstandings put to rest. No such thing happened, and desolation began to peer at me through the final pages.

I thought their story was wildly romantic, and was devastated at the deterioration of Catherine and her thoughtless choices. The depth behind these choices were lost on me. I was only invested in the surface emotions. I didn’t understand why she was pulling all the feathers out of the pillow, I only knew that pulling feathers out of pillows was a fun pastime, and if Catherine did it, then my own secret pulling was justified.

Never mind I wouldn’t dream of justifying such a thing to dear Mother.

10:29PM

I

Submitted

My

Assignment

Finally

After

Three

Long

Weeks

of

Brain

Fever.

You would think I would be able to now breathe a lovely sigh of relief and lounge around with a tall glass of lemonade or, given the season, a big mug of thick, delicious melted chocolate.

But no, my loves. I have another assignment due in a week and a half. Luckily this is a creative writing assessment. Still exhausting, given that I don’t have free reign and must comply with textbook standards… but it is definitely (hopefully) easier than analysing female demons in Wuthering Heights!

Tom Hardy as Heathcliff

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Is bloody brilliant.

It’s not just because he is a handsome man. He is terribly handsome, yes, but I never saw Heathcliff as handsome. I saw him as a dangerous man full of bitter anger and passion and revenge but he also had a tremendous amount of presence. He was exploding with emotion, he loved to hate.

I felt that this came to life in many of the scenes in the 2009 film with Tom Hardy. His voice is wonderful and resounding and allows him to maintain authority as well as instil fear. His tendency to enunciate his ts as ds is terribly compelling. This is also why he did excellently as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

His emotions translated strongly throughout the film, and I found myself crying with him when Cathy died, as opposed to cringing when I watched the Ralph Fiennes version. Tom Hardy also had great chemistry with Charlotte Riley who played Catherine Earnshaw in this version.

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It’s interesting, though, to see these emotions played out on screen because in the book I had a tendency to sympathise with Nelly, the narrator of Heathcliff’s story, as opposed to Heathcliff himself, the living and breathing soul of his own story. Seeing him actually experiencing the cruelty he experienced, and being cast aside by the one person who he thought really saw him for the vulnerable human he was, made all his later actions make a lot more sense. Yes, I don’t empathise with how he treated Isabella Linton and his son and the poor animals, but I understand it more because I could see the character actually go through his harrowing experiences as a child, and see how they affected him directly, rather than be told by a rather biased servant that he had gone through them. A child (for he was a child) is impressionable and if all he has known is hatred and cruelty, and being second place (to Edgar Linton of all people) he is bound to grow up compassion-less. I think that made all the difference to me, and will definitely influence my analogy of the subject and the character.

I’m studying Wuthering Heights in great detail at the moment at university so have watched all the possible versions of Wuthering Heights and I must say, to me, the 2009 mini series did Heathcliff the most justice.

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