Wuthering Heights is a novel written by Emily Bronte in 1847, during the Victorian age.
The story talks about love, and it is narrated through flashbacks. That’s a difference between the traditional narration way. In fact the traditional novels, like Dickens’ ones, called “formation novels”, start form the childhood of the character and end with his death.
The narrator of the story is Mr. Lockwood, who reports what the second narrator, Nelly Dean, told him. Nelly Dean is an omniscient narrator.
Mr. Lockwood visits his neighbors at Wuthering Heights and stays in their house for the night. That night, the narrator sees a ghost. The next day, Mr. Lockwood asks to Nelly Dean to tell him the story of the family.
Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights’ owner, was kept from Liverpool by the real owner, Mr. Earnshaw. Earnshaw had got two kids: Catherine and Hindley. Whereas Heathcliff and Hindley hate each other, Catherine and her new brother fall in love soon. But after Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Hindley forces Heathcliff to be his servant. Then he leaves (he will return after a while with a wife), and Heathcliff and Catherine live alone with Nelly. After the Catherine’s hurt episode, thing changes. Catherine becomes a lady and gets married with a rich man form Trashcross Grange called Edgar Linton, but she still loves Heathcliff as herself. Heathcliff leaves and he returns, changed, after three years. After that, the two brother fall in love again: but Catherine has got a child, and he dies after the birth. Heathcliff has got his revenge treating bad Edgar, Catherine Linton (Catherine and Edgar’s child), Hindley and Hareton (Hindley’s son). After his deaths, a great part of the characters are died too, but the two remained, Hareton and Catherine Linton, start a pretty friendship. The story ends with the Mr. Lockwood’s return to Wuthering Heights.
In the story, Wuthering Heights represents a period of life in which love doesn’t depend from the social condition, the youth. It’s the opposite of Trashcross Grange, which represents the adulthood, a period of life in which social conventions repress the emotions of the men. So, whereas Wuthering Heights represents the freedom, Trashcross Grange represents the repression. The adulthood is characterized by more appearance, by more decorum. Trashcross symbolizes the social convention.
The passage between the youth to the adulthood is symbolized by an event: the hurting of Catherine. Catherine comes back from Trashcross Grange like a lady, and her friend Heathcliff is embarrassed by the behavior of his friend. This event wants to suggest that the childhood ends, and people has to think of their life as an adult. And Catherine do this. He gets married with a rich men, Edgar Linton, as a convention in that time. She cannot marry Heathcliff, even if she loves him, because he’s not rich, and he’s a servant. So, a lady cannot marry a servant, and Hindley (Catherine’s brother) would have never let she marry him.
Heathcliff is a mysterious character: the reader doesn’t now anything about his origin; and he disappears at half of the story, to return three years later. The name Heathcliff represents an explosion of energy, in the first part of the novel as a strong love; in the second part as a great desire of revenge. Heath = warm, hot, energy. Cliffs = reefs, rocks.
During an important Catherine’s speech, she tells to Nelly that she loves Heathcliff as she loves herself (“I’m Heathcliff”). Then, she tells that her love for Edgar is like a season, very passenger. After Heathcliff’s return, he’s a rich person, and he’s an adult. And he wants to revenge against Hindley, Edgar, and Catherine. But he still loves her deeply. That’s the second face of love: the destructive power of revenge and love, double face of the same medal. So, love is seen in a double way in the novel: as a kind of mutual affection; and as a kind of deep destructive energy. The couple Heathcliff – Catherine can relive again only after the death. They’ll be together forever. So, even death is seen not as an end of the life, but as a union.
This novel hasn’t been appreciated by the contemporary audience, because of a materialistic society. So this, like A Christmas Carol, is a kind of struggle against the materialist vision of life, in which emotions are seen as a guilt.