I first read Wuthering Heights as a teenager. It immediately struck a chord with the romantic within me and I fell in love with Heathcliff, the brooding 'hero' at the heart of the story. I thought he was exactly the sort of chap I would like in my life - tall, dark, handsome and masterful. Just the thought of him was enough to make me flutter in the way I imagined Catherine did in the novel. I must have been a painful teenager, lots of angst and silent longing! I had visions of myself mooning at my bedroom window while my own Heathcliff rushed across Birmingham to rescue me form the boredom and normality of my everyday life. Needless to say that never happened!
As I grew older and hopefully wiser I realised that Heathcliff wasn't what I wanted at all. He is a bully, plain and simple. Catherine falls heavily for him but because of the pressure of family and society she rejects Heathcliff. This seems to trigger something in him and he turns into a terrible character. He has few redeeming qualities; he is cruel to his family, taunting them, beating them and treating them with contempt.
Catherine is an interesting character. She is drawn to Heathcliff on an almost animalistic level; she cannot resist him, even though she knows she shouldn't love him. She rejects him to marry a more suitable man and sets in motion the misery and despair of the second part of the novel. The relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine is in many ways the ultimate Romantic relationship. They are drawn together despite both knowing that they can never be together according to the conventions of the day.
Aside from the compelling characters the setting of Wuthering Heights is a real draw for me. The bleak and wild setting of Yorkshire acts as a vibrant backdrop for the tempestuous relationships of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The wild moors, the savage weather act as catalysts for many of the most memorable moments in the novel.
I have never watched a film or TV adaptation of Wuthering Heights. I cannot bear the thought of losing my own versions of Catherine and Heathcliff. In my imagination they are rounded and fully formed and if I ever watched someone else's version of them then I might be disappointed. This is the only novel that I have felt this way about; I have other favourites which have been made into films which I have watched and enjoyed. I am quite precious about Wuthering Heights - it has been with me for many years and I am sure that I'll read it several times more before I shuffle off. In fact, maybe it should be my next read ...
I've re-vamped this post in honour of world Book Day. Hope some new eyes see it and enjoy.