Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

2.12.2013

Figuring Out Love



I have just completed a literary conquest: I have joined the rest of the world and read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
 
And, just as one might expect from a novel whose title refers to a roaring, blowing squall of wind, I found myself horrified at the ugliness of the story, enthralled by the power of the characters, and affected in my views of man, sin, and the heart.
 
Emily brought me a bit too close for comfort to Heathcliff. He's a man who, despite his pathetic and pitiable beginnings, turns powerful, rich, and manipulative. He's a man who, despite the fact that he "loves" more passionately and more deeply than many people ever do, also hates and wreaks revenge onto three generations of the Earnshaw family. He's a man who, despite his great promise, becomes a murderous, bitter, manipulative psychopath. In short, he's a man who idolizes his beautiful childhood playmate, Catherine Earnshaw, who never forgives those (including Catherine) who separate them, and who spirals out of control because he will never once acknowledge his self-absorption or his vengefulness.
 
After Heathcliff reaches his teens in the book, I never once liked him. And yet...I understood him. This is the brilliance of Emily Brontë's writing; wrong is so very wrong, and never meant to be sympathized, but one can also see oneself in the wrong. One can see how every heart is deceitful and desperately wicked--how every heart could go the way of Heathcliff but for the grace of God.
 
Heathcliff stands in stark contrast with Edgar Linton. Linton marries Catherine Earnshaw out of love and devotion for the selfish, but nevertheless lovable, creature. Catherine, on the other hand, has no love for Edgar--she chooses him for what he can give to her, not what he is to her. However, even as Edgar realizes that Catherine's heart belongs wholly to Heathcliff; even as Catherine thinks only and always of herself; even as Heathcliff continues to taunt him--Edgar remains steadfast. His love for Catherine is quiet, loyal, sacrificial, and sweet, while Heathcliff's love is passionate, vacillating, mercenary, and egocentric.
 
Through three generations of Earnshaws, Emily Brontë explores the themes of love and revenge. Through 320 pages, I was terrified, shocked, contemplative--and at the last, relieved.
 
As we approach that rosy day of all-things love, I wonder, do we love like Heathcliff or like Linton? Do we love for what we can get or what we can give? Do we love patiently or portentously? Do we love in spite of hurts or in the absence of hurts? It's time to figure this out--not because Valentine's Day is on Thursday, but because the success or demise of future generations depends upon it.



Photo Credit: Gabriela Pinto

12 comments:

  1. I haven't read the book, but I have watched a few movie versions. It doesn't happen often, but Bronte joined Dickens in making me feel ill. They do such a good job at getting to the bottomof human nature and illustrating its influence in the day to day lives of "normal people". Sin that is so obvious is not easy to deal with as we read or watch.

    Still, we must keep listening! We must see that it is there in all of us and must be dealt with.


    Way to stick it out!

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    1. From what I hear, a lot of the movie versions leave out the third generation storyline, which in my opinion, redeemed the entire book. I definitely agree with you about Bronte and Dickens managing to get to the bottom of human nature--and yet they do so in a way that is not lurid or sensational {most of the time}, which definitely sets them apart from many other authors!

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  2. Ha! I just started Wuthering Heights. Thanks for the review!

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    1. What a quinky-dink! Hope I didn't give too much away! =)

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  3. Great post! That's a really good thing to remind ourselves. That we need to love, not for what we can get, but what we can give! :)

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  4. I loved this story. I tried to watch a movie version - I think it was the latest one - and I was saddened at how such a deep, multi-faceted, moving story could be reduced to a rather lurid love affair between two people. Wuthering Heights is a story that stays with you for a long time after you've read the last page. It's real writing.

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    1. That was definitely the impression I got from reading the summaries of all the movie versions. Some time ago, I'm pretty sure I saw this in film form, but I knew nothing of the story, and I was distracted while watching, so I have no remembrance of which version it was, or if it was worth watching. Film just cannot do justice to writing like this, can it?

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  5. I would love to experience reading the book after seeing this post! I was wondering, would you mind if I recommended your wonderful blog on mine? It's been such an inspiration to me.

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    1. Of course you can! Thanks so much for your sweet comment!

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    2. Here's the post if you're interested: http://bit.ly/Yxi3Lg

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