I am having difficulty sleeping after reading this book. It touched a nerve in me, because it resonates with so many of the emotional patterns that I see in others and in myself, even almost two hundred years after it was written. It amazes me that its author, Emily Bronte, had such perspicacity in discerning how humans react emotionally to events so obviously beyond their control, and how these reactions change as the event falls further into the past. I’d like to provide more context for appreciating this woman’s genius: Bronte was the daughter of a parson, and she grew up in the solitary moors of Yorkshire with little contact with the outside world. She lived in utter isolation with her three sisters and brother, attended a draconian boarding school, and only knew the desolate landscape that surrounded her. Yet she was able to describe, in verbal perfection, these feelings that I have struggled to articulate all my life.

I surprised myself by empathizing the most with Heathcliff. By all accounts, he is the most bestial, tempestuous, and cruel character described in the book. Putting aside many of his diabolical actions, I was able to identify with his spirit, which was so ruled by passions that he was hardly able to keep up appearances. His past, which he never made attempts to avoid (and in fact took pains to relive), manifested itself in his surroundings and his actions. As he slowly destroyed Catherine Linton’s life by contriving her marriage with his son, he facilitated her acquaintance with young Hareton Earnshaw, whom she would eventually marry after becoming Linton Heathcliff’s widow. Despite his best efforts to wipe out the families, Heathcliff only succeeded in continuing the cycle of Lintons marrying Earnshaws, with pure love always bordering close to destructive hatred. (Catherine Linton, after falling in “love” with Heathcliff’s son, is as quick to hate him as Heathcliff was to “hate” her mother.) Heathcliff’s home at Wuthering Heights, decrepit and morose as it was, echoed the equally dismal state of his heart. And isn’t it true? Aren’t our surroundings always some hollow echo of our thoughts? Moreover, many of Healthcliff’s soliloquies were beautifully written. I often read them five or six times to absorb their brilliance and depth. They almost could bring you to tears with sheer eloquence. Being naturally drawn to beautiful prose like a bee to honey, how could I not adore his character? Emily Bronte seemed to imbue him with a gift of speech that was unmatched by any of the other characters. In some eerie way, I could easily see myself in Heathcliff’s position, speaking and feeling with the same fervor.

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