A Favourite Book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

* Portrait of Emily Bronte by her brother Branwell

How does one choose a favourite book? Literature has been my passion since I was a child. There are also many books that I will read over and over again. One such novel is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It is a powerful tale of passion, hatred, and revenge, all against the backdrop of the wild menacing moorlands of Yorkshire, England - close to where I grew up. I have read it around five times, and I know I will be reading it again. Reasons I love this book:

I love the fact that it is full of eccentric characters. I am fascinated by Heathcliff’s eccentric and insane compulsions. I love the painfully obvious flaws of every single character that Emily displays as though they were all pieces in a museum exhibition. I really do appreciate eccentricity in literature, and Wuthering Heights definitely offers more than I could ask for in a novel.

I love the unique take Wuthering Heights has on the subject of forbidden love. Heathcliff and Catherine are forbidden not only by what is deemed socially acceptable but by something scary, supernatural. Heathcliff acts as though to fulfil love with Catherine would be to utterly possess her soul, to the point of death. It seems as though it is impossible for them to be together because the poignancy of their love would be enough to kill. The power driving their love and its complete doom is illuminating.

There is much debate over which genre Wuthering Heights falls into, Romanticism or Gothic. It contains elements common to both. I love the gothic and romanticism, so what could be better than an infusion of both?!

I love the “I am Heathcliff” quote:

I cannot express it: but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath, a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

Finally, I love Wuthering Heights because of Emily Bronte’s writing style. I love the frequent and consistent pungent passages like this quote. Nothing can explain the doomed love, self-destructive longing, chilling atmosphere, and eccentric personality traits like Catherine’s proclamation that she is Heathcliff, that their souls are the same.