Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’s only novel, was published in 1847 under the pseudonym “Ellis Bell”. It is now a classic of English literature but was controversial because of its writing style. The novel has emerged as one of those rare texts like Frankenstein and Dracula and has inspired many adaptations, including film, radio, and television dramatizations, etc. It is a novel full of contradictions and it offers many things to critics and general readers. The special relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff leads the story. Celebration of incomplete love and death can be seen throughout the novel. At first, Cathy rejected her love and married Edgar. Then she has been guilty of hiding her desire towards Heathcliff. When Cathy says ‘he’s more myself than I am, she is actually expressing that they are one or nondifferentiation between them. In fact, they are the two aspects of one person. The violent nature of Heathcliff can be put into the unconscious stage or id and the calculated behavior of Catherine is the conscious stage or ego of human behavior. Bronte doesn’t give an end to Cathy’s and Heathcliff’s love and their reunion at Catherine’s deathbed suggests that death can unite them. After Cathy’s death, Heathcliff can’t resist himself because of frustration. He was haunted by his beloved’s memory.
Bronte portrayed Heathcliff as a black man. The novel possesses a happy atmosphere in the absence of Heathcliff. The characters lived happily before his arrival and piece were maintained after his death. He is often regarded as an archetype of the tortured anti-hero whose all-consuming rage, jealousy, and anger destroy both him and those around him. Readers need to decide if his revenge is focused on his lost position at Wuthering Heights, his loss of Catherine to Edgar, or if it is his assertion of dignity as a human being. The difficulty most readers have relating to and understanding Heathcliff is the fact that he hates as deeply as he loves; therefore, he is despised as much as he is pitied. By marrying Isabella, Heathcliff also gains power over her and control of her money. Heathcliff elopes with Isabella to hurt Edgar and to revenge himself against Edgar Linton, whom he hates. The struggle between haves and have noted is also an element in this novel. Wuthering Heights examines stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. Emily Bronte constantly contrasts masculinity and femininity, but not all of the comparisons are simple; sometimes boys act like girls and girls act like boys.
The novel was criticized for its approach to love and Bronte’s writing style got appreciation. Settings play a major role here. The entire set of the novel is a place that is far away from society. Most of the critics pointed that the settings and the unusual behavior of the characters make the novel more unreal. The moors, the hills, the weather …all reflect the deserted and gloomy state of life inside Wuthering Heights. It seems happy from the outside but the real condition inside Wuthering Heights was just the opposite. The Earnshaw and Clinton families show different styles of living. Linton lead a calculated and mannered life while Earnshaw’s lead an uncivilized life. The use of supernatural elements provides more pain and sorrow to the atmosphere. The central appeal of the novel is strengthened by the pain and tragedy in it. Each and every character are suffering from pain. Evil has landed in the Heights when Catherine’s father had brought a storm with him from Liverpool, (Heathcliff’s entry). The central characters Heathcliff and Catherine are similar in various aspects. Both are stubborn and possessive. Anything which is more dramatic than their love is Heathcliff’s obsession for revenge. One by one most characters fail in front of him. The sharp contrast between the members of the Earnshaw family and the Linton family suggests that if you try to match opposite ends, the result can be something tragic. No soul finds satisfaction in the novel until at last Heathcliff is dead. After Catherine’s death, she lies in between Edgar and Heathcliff. She was like this in her life too. Catherine blamed herself for not marrying Heathcliff. Her husband was a failure according to her. He couldn’t give that much affection to Heathcliff. Comparing with him Edgar looks like a poor and comic character. Between the two, the fate of Catherine is even tragic who dies giving birth to Cathy. Several critics found Heathcliff a deformed monster and an insane psychopath.
The two people that remain are Cathy and Hareton. Cathy treats Hareton with love because she is aware of the quality faced by Hareton from the hands of Heathcliff. Catherine and Heathcliff could not unite in their lives but the marriage of Cathy and Hareton is an indication that the two will be united after death. Bronte pictures the end as a new beginning in the novel. From Mr. Earnshaw to Heathcliff, Catherine, and even the Linton kids, nobody gets the things they had expected in their life. The only problem is that the author has explored a deeply sadistic side of love that critics of her time found very difficult to digest but then a story is born in the corners where you least expect it. Also, the novel possesses a collective consciousness of Emily Bronte’s white, aristocratic background.
The strength that Wuthering Heights possess is it cannot be easily classified as any particular type of novel. It can be read and interpreted from multiple perspectives. It is also a social novel about class structure in society as well as a treatise on the role of women. Also, it is an important contemporary novel for two reasons: Its honest and accurate portrayal of life during an early era provides a glimpse of history, and the literary merit it possesses in and of itself enables the text to rise above entertainment and rank as quality literature. Anyway, Emily Bronte’s novel has overcome its initial criticism to warm the hearts of romantics and realists worldwide.