English Book Club: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte
Wuthering heights is Emily Brönte’s only novel. It was most probably written between October 1845 and June 1846 and it was published a year after, in 1847, under the pen name “Ellis Bell”.
Although Wuthering Heights is now a classic of English literature, contemporaneous reviews were deeply polarised; it was controversial because of its unusually stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals regarding religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality. The novel is also about envy, nostalgia, pessimism and resentment.
Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries.
The book contains elements of gothic fiction, and another significant aspect is the moorland setting. The novel has inspired adaptations, including film, radio and television dramatisations, a musical, a ballet, operas, and a song by Kate Bush.
Emily Brönte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, on July 30, 1818 the fifth child of Reverend Patrick Brontë and his wife, Maria Branwell Brontë.
The family moved to Haworth in April 1821. Only a few months later, Brontë’s mother died of cancer; her death came nearly nine months after the birth of her sister, Anne. Her mother’s sister, Elizabeth Branwell, came to live with the family to help care for the children.
At home she read extensively and began to make up stories with her siblings. In 1835, the shy Emily tried leaving home for school.
She went with Charlotte to Miss Wooler’s school in Roe Head where Charlotte worked as a teacher. But she stayed only a few months before heading back to Haworth. In time, also Anne and Charlotte became writers.
She became a teacher at the Law Hill School in September 1837, but she left her position the following March. Brontë and her sister Charlotte traveled to Brussels in 1842 to study, but the death of their aunt Elizabeth forced them to return home.
Emily Brontë died in Haworth, Yorkshire, England, on December 19, 1848—the same year that her brother, Branwell, passed away.
The English Book Club will meet again to coment this book on saturday October 26th. You can still sign in and join us! Become a member of the English Book Club!