A little bit more on Wuthering Heights...

As I continue to read through the novel again, I have been struck by an appreciation for a deeply moral message in the novel. In trying to reconcile the horrible behavior (at times) and motives (at times) of Heathcliff and Cathy, I have come to realize that more than anything else, this novel is about the sacred nature of relationships--and, that no matter what happens in relationships, it is the good about the other person (if the relationship meant anything at all as deep as what H and C experience) and never the bad that outweighs the relationship--even after death.

It is a powerful message--and one that allows me to see the novel differently in really important ways. Now, this isn't to say that Heathcliff doesn't carry an enormous load of guilt throughout life once Cathy dies. He does. But he, more than Cathy, is the character to sympathize with at the end, I think. It is interesting that Cathy always has a problem with her temper and moodiness. But, at least early on, this is not evident in Heathcliff. Oh, yes--he becomes just as capable as she at abuse and petty behavior. But, in the end, their connection is built upon a sacred knowledge that even the reader isn't allowed to know. We miss all of their moments of connection. These moments take place away from the narrative eyes (of Nelly), and we will never know what those two said or did out on the moors all day and night throughout their childhood and young adulthood that created such a bond.

This sacred nature of the relationship is the most realistic part of what turns out to be a very sensational novel on some accounts. If a relationship is truly sacred, if it consumes your being, it is almost painful to talk about it and it feels like a violation to allow another person to experience any part of it. (Ahh...it all comes back to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, doesn't it? Her refusing to speak about their relationship is evidence of its sacred place in her life.) In the book, the relationship is between them, and that is what draws the readers in...we feel like if we just read a little more, pay a little closer attention, then we will know. But we won't. We won't ever know anything about Cathy and Heathcliff, really. It is amazing and evidence of Emily Bronte's power as an author.


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