Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights is a novel by Emily Brontë, written between October 1845 and June 1846, and published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. It was her first and only published novel: she died the following year, at age 30. The decision to publish came after the success of her sister Charlotte’s novel, Jane Eyre. After Emily’s death, Charlotte edited the manuscript of Wuthering Heights, and arranged for the edited version to be published as a posthumous second edition in 1850.
Wuthering Heights is the name of the farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors where the story unfolds. The book’s core theme is the destructive effect that jealousy and vengefulness have, both on the jealous or vengeful individuals and on their communities.
Although Wuthering Heights is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature, it received mixed reviews when first published, and was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was unusually stark, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day, including religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality. The English poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti referred to it as a “fiend of a book — an incredible monster.”
In the second half of the 19th century, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was considered the best of the Brontë sisters‘ works, but later critics argued that Wuthering Heights was superior. Wuthering Heights has inspired adaptations, including film, radio and television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, a ballet, operas (by Bernard Herrmann, Carlisle Floyd, and Frédéric Chaslin), a role-playing game, and a 1978 song by Kate Bush.
In 1801, Mr Lockwood, a wealthy man from the south of England, rents Thrushcross Grange in the north for peace and recuperation. He visits his landlord, Mr Heathcliff, who lives in a remote moorland farmhouse, “Wuthering Heights,” where he finds an odd assemblage: Heathcliff seems to be a gentleman, but his manners are uncouth; the reserved mistress of the house is in her mid-teens; and a young man seems to be a family member yet dresses and speaks like a servant.
Snowed in, Lockwood is grudgingly allowed to stay and is shown to a bedchamber where he notices books and graffiti left by a former inhabitant named Catherine. He falls asleep and has a nightmare in which he sees the ghostly Catherine trying to enter through the window. He cries out in fear, rousing Heathcliff who rushes to the room. Lockwood was convinced that what he saw was real. Heathcliff, believing Lockwood to be right, examines the window and opens it hoping to allow Catherine’s spirit to enter. When nothing happens, Heathcliff shows Lockwood to his own bedroom and returns to keep watch at the window.
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