I was in complete ignorance of the characters or plot of Wuthering Heights when I first pulled it off of the shelf and began to read. It was one of the books that I felt I should read since it is considered a masterpiece of the English language and appears on all of the classic book lists.
The only novel written by Emily Brontë follows the lives of three interconnected families in the secluded moors of northern England in the second half of the 18th century. Mr. Earnshaw, the wealthy owner of the gothic house of Wuthering Heights appears to be doing a good deed when he adopts an orphaned gypsy child and names him Heathcliff. As with all beautiful things in this novel, however, good is blighted by jealousy and hate and thus begins the tale of thwarted love, rage, and despair.
This singular story is unlike any book I have ever read before. The writing style is intriguing and creative, but the themes are dark and disturbing. It becomes evident that the author was not a follower of Christ. As one reviewer wrote,
“And, despite being the daughter of a clergyman, Emily Brontë contrived to describe a world without God.”
A world without God? Can you imagine a place where hate, anger, and revenge bind the inhabitants in a cruel cycle of despair, misery, and taking joy in others' discomfort?
As the story progresses, there is no doubt that we are dealing with unregenerate sinners. Although some of the story twists seem unlikely, they are completely logical considering the hopelessness of their foundation and the belief that there are no eternal consequences for their actions. There is no comfort or rest for them in the knowledge of a loving God. They are left to work out their problems on their own; sadly, the solution usually involves inflicting pain upon their enemies.
This story is not without its “Christians.” There are two in the entire novel. The first, a minister, appears near the beginning in a nightmare. He is a vindictive judge who preaches on the 491st sin – the one that no Christian is expected to forgive. This is a blatant misrepresentation of Jesus Christ’s instruction to not forgive seven times but seventy times seven.
The second “Christian” has a slightly larger role. As a pious but vindictive and self-righteous servant, Joseph rejoices and thanks God for the untimely death of his sinful master. This is not the response followers of Christ are to have when a man dies in his sins and faces eternal punishment. Everyone hates Joseph, and his pious readings and sermons are laughed at.
Emily Brontë was not trying to write from a biblical perspective, but in many ways she succeeded. This novel accurately depicts what life would be like without God. It is only despair.
Have any of you read Wuthering Heights? If so, what was your opinion?