Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

Bentley, Phyllis. "Emily's Works".  The Bronte Sisters. Published for The British Council and the National Book League by Longmans, Green & Co.
     Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (that fierce, wild, strange novel whose quality is unique in English literature), was actually little regarded at the time of its publication, but had now become one of the noblest productions of English literature.
     The story of Wuthering Heights is in essence simple.  However, the clear outlines of this story are often confused in readers’minds by the method Emily employs to tell it, namely in a series of first-person narrations which do not go straight forward in time.  She begins the book towards the end of the story, when Heathcliff apparently triumphant.  He owns both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and the descendants of Lintons and Earnshaws are completely in his power.  His tenant at Thrushcross Grange, Mr. Loskwood, coming to the Heights to call on his landlord, is first perplexed and then made madly curious by the strange behavior and mysterious relationships of the people he finds living there.  The reader, too, is made intensely curious and longs to hear the explanation of it all, which presently Lockwood, before he leaves the neighbourhood in disgust with the climate, hears from the Earnshaws’old nurse, Nellie Dean.  Within her narrative come other first-person narratives, of young Cathy and of Isabella.  Then later Lockwood comes back again, sees a completely changed situation at the Heights and again hears the explanation from Nellie Dean.  This method, complex and one would judge not easy to sustain renders high dividends in excitement and suspense.
      Emily's novel, though written in the last century, belongs to the eighteen century --- the century of horse transport, rough tracks, remote houses, character unsoftened by urban contacts --- which lingered in Emily's day in the Haworth uplands.  But in essence Emily's tale is timeless: a tale of elemental, universal passions, love scorned turning into a fury of revenge and hate.
      Emily's  novel gains its special quality partly from the terrible intensity with which its characters feel these mighty passions.  Cathy and Hindley Earnshaw have proud, fierce wilful natures; Heathcliff is almost demoniac in his terrible force of will.  All three express their feelings with such awful intensity, such uninhibited force, such untamed violence that one can hardly read of them without a strong shudder of excitement.
      Emily Bronte's manner of writing is austere and unadorned, but yet mighty.  She scorns elaboration, rejects the glittering adjective, the far-fetched image, the eye-catching flourish; she states her meaning, one feels, as plainly as she can, without any concession to the desire for brilliance.
      Another most potent element in the novel is its local colouring, which occurs in character, speech, and scene.  The setting, the scenery of the book is magnificently Yorkshire.  Of the wild and sombre moors which surge round the Heights, Emily gives glorious pictures, in all seasons, in all weathers.  The landscape painting in this novel is superb, unrivalled in English fiction.
 It is this untamed moorland and its untamed characters who admit no restraint on their fierce passions, which give Wuthering Heights its incomparable air of dark, wild, stormy freedom.
 But this novel has another, and most noble, element that give her work its special quality: Emily's comprehension of the problems of good and evil, the weakness of Edgar, the silliness of his sister, the cruelty of Heathcliff, the brutality of Hindley, the egoism of Catherine, as well as the force and pathos of their griefs and their loves.  But, she does not blame faulty mortals for acting in accordance with the nature fate has given them.  Neither does she exonerate or excuse them; she simply portrays them --- with relentless truth, but also with the compassion induced by limitless understanding.  It is as when above the wild and sombre moorland, through the dark storm-driven clouds, appear the serene blue dusk and evening star which belong to the cosmic heavens.  The resulting landscape has an incomparable majesty and beauty.
      In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte makes us contemplate, without evasion, some of the most powerful primal motives, engaged, against a wild, free, stormy background, in ferocious conflict.  And with this lofty grandeur which she invests this tragic spectacle excite, strengthen and embolden our spirit to be itself more freely and courageously.