Friday, July 28, 2006

Wuthering Heights

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?

7 comments:

Wholesome Works said...

Elizabeth,

I have not read Wuthering Hieghts, and after your helpful review I probably won't, except for study.

I was surprised when I read you had found this book to be from a Biblical perspective. I doubt I would have seen it like that, but in many ways, I realize you're right. Showing life without God can be just a Biblical as describing life with God.

Zachary

P.S. After doing a short search on the book, I found several people, who were for the book, that said is was horrible, but the beauty of the language used made it "a great book." :D

Christina Moore said...

Elizabeth,
I want to thank you for writing this review. I now know that I will never need to read this book, even though it is considered a classic. Books that are labeled "classic" by the world would not be considered classic by the Lord. The Bible clearly states in Philippians 4:8,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Mom

Erin said...

I have not read it, but I've had friends say it's dark and depressing. I recently read "Jane Eyre" by Emily's sister Charlotte Bronte and I enjoyed it very much. Another book to look for is "Girl With a Pen: Charlotte Bronte" by Elisabeth Kyle which gives some insight into the Bronte sisters' lives (although it focuses mainly on Charlotte's).

Good review!

Ednella said...

Wow, that is interesting! "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." What an interesting conclusion!

~Nella

Ednella said...

Haven't read the book, by the way :-)

LeAnna said...

Thanks Elizabeth for the book review.. I haven't read it, but now know a bit about it and probably won't read it at this point in time! I know, a life with out God WOULD be depressing, nothing in life worth living for! I'm so glad that we know about the one and true God!! :)
LeAnna

Rachel Marie said...

My Dad has read that book, and he said he found it rather depressing!:-(
'Life without God' would certainly be that!!!