Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Classic Corner: Wuthering Heights and Jerry Springer

by JccKeith

Thrushcross Grange
Of all the classics, Wuthering Heights is by far, in my opinion, the most dramatic and closest to a romance novel.  If you have ever read the over the top romances found in modern romance novels, you will recognize many similarities with Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliffe, the central characters of Wuthering Heights.  They share a deep, eternal love which cannot be broken by time, distance, or the interference of every other character in the novel. 

  • There is of course no sex as you would find in modern romance novels because this book was written by Emily Bronte between 1845 and 1846.  I'm fairly certain even speaking about sex was forbidden in those times let alone writing detailed sex scenes in a prominent novel.  The book, for those who have not dared open the pages of a classic novel, is like an episode of Jerry Springer, only from the mid-1800s.
Imagine if you will, the main characters, Catherine and Heathcliffe, on the set and Mr. Springer bringing out Catherine's uppity, better than thou brother, Hindley.  Hindley of course, does not like Heathclife, formerly a dark-skinned orphan brought home by Catherine and Hindley's father. Hindley is jealous of Heathcliffe's usurping his role in the family.  He also does not approve of Catherine and Heathcliffe's budding romance.  

Catherine seems bipolar with her wild and unruly emotions, hard time controlling herself and occasional fits of madness.  Not to be outdone, she brings up Hindley's wife Frances and their son Hareton. She points out that it was after Frances's death that Hindley began drinking heavily and ruining his life.  He will ultimately destroy himself.

Catherine also brings up Heathcliffe's wife, Isabella, whom he married she claims, only to spite her and her husband Edgar.  Edgar is Isabella's brother.  Catherine claims Heathcliffe despised Isabella and abused her so terribly that she had to flee to London where she gave birth to his son Linton.

Heathcliffe claims Catherine only married Edgar because he was from a well to-do family and had wealth and status.

  • Now picture it a few years later and they have a reunion show.  Nelly, the housekeeper through it all, tells the story.  Catherine died after going mad and then giving birth to Edgar's daughter Cathy.  Hindley lost the house and lands of Wuthering Heights to Heathcliffe gambling and then he died six months after Catherine.  Isabella died and Edgar tried to adopt her and Heathcliffe's son Linton.  Linton, by the way, was a sickly kid.
Later, Edgar is on his death bed and Cathy and Nelly are held hostage by Heathcliffe who tries to force Cathy to marry Linton so he can inherit Thrushcross Grange.  He tries to keep Cathy from seeing Edgar before he dies, out of revenge against a lifetime of mistreatment by Edgar towards Heathcliffe.  Linton helped Cathy escape after they had a brief romance.  Linton died shortly thereafter.  Edgar also died but Cathy was able to see him first.

Cathy was a spirited and beautiful girl but is forced to live with Heathcliffe and Hareton after her father's death.  Heathcliffe now owns Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.  Hareton is later injured and he and Cathy develop a friendship.  Heathcliffe descends into madness and claims to see Catherine's ghost.  He eventually dies in her old room and is buried next to her.  Ultimately, Hareton and Cathy plan to marry.

  • As I said, this story is more akin to modern romance novels or an episode of Jerry Springer than a boring old classic.  Give it a chance and you might find yourself lost in the sordid details of this unending love and overwhelming passion between Catherine and Heathcliffe.  Just be careful, their love has a powerful affect on all involved and tends to destroy lives.

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