Once in a lifetime comes a book that stays in your mind like a bookmarked event in the sheets of time. A book that was written to leave behind an epitaph when none would come to their grave. It’ll be there whether you visit it or not. It’ll bear the inscriptions whether you read them or not. It’ll stay as a reminder of a story that was once breathing, and a story that has now travelled millions of miles but hasn’t aged a bit. It’s like life, a truth. But it’s more like death, an even bigger truth. One such book, which remains as young as it once was, is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
More than being just a classic that has come down the ages; Wuthering Heights is a stark, in-your-face painting of untamed human emotions. Emotions as honest and as ruthless as they come. Emotions that originate in two people, and how, by virtue or in damnation, they’re bound together by a ferocity that would put an active volcano to shame. Wuthering Heights, as far as I am concerned, is a love story. Love at the extremity of passion that is a seething flame in blood-red and burning-yellow. It’s not a love story at the extremity of passion that is a steady, cool-blue and silvery-white dancing flame. Many people would call it a story of revenge, but I disagree. It’s a love story that tells us how true lovers will be one irrespective. And I mean anything!
Protocol dictates that I say something about the storyline as this is a book review. All I will say is this: Bronte wrote a novel and brought to life Heathcliff and Cathy to love each other so much that no one could ever take them apart. Not even Cathy’s swollen pride, not her marriage to a society-approved man, not Heathcliff’s ruggedness, not his ego, not his flagrant impulse of putting her down and not even their own kids. Heck, even death couldn’t take them apart. The writing has a moorish quality to it. In the sense that it is said with such pertinence to what might have been, that it makes you believe that it was. Country sides have no pretenses, no impertinences; and thus the book. She wrote with such intensity that it seemed like her life depended on writing that one book. Just that one book! And you can see she has brought about that intensity in her characters-Heathcliff and Cathy. Bronte created very strong characters, each with their own crests and spines, and each one generously laced with a range of fallacies. In short, the characters are what human beings without finishing schools would be—no false reactions, no unreal mannerisms and no make-up to hide what’s real.
Wuthering Heights has a place of its own. It’s not to be looked at with mundane eyes. It’s a love story that’s higher than acceptable norms and out of the grasp of anyone who holds societal-acceptance to be the goal of being in love. It’s not about rules or about diktats. It’s about feeling what you feel and being unapologetic about it. It’s a remote possibility now—to feel what you feel and not weigh it against a barometer society created for you. And that is what I think is the jewel in the crown of the book—it is honest to a fault. It might raise a few hairs at the back of your neck. It might make your condemn the choices they make. It might make you wonder, what the hell was she thinking? However, if you can accept the book without judging it with a microscope and accepting that such people could exist, you will learn one of the most important lessons of love—acceptance.
And I’ll sign off by giving you just one simple reason to read Wuthering Heights—read it to see how love needs no acceptance but your own.