Let me begin by saying I enjoyed listening to this Wuthering Heights. I found it frustrating and weird as all heck, but I enjoyed it. Also, this book is 170 years old so spoilers. There are also some Harry Potter spoilers within.
One of the thoughts I had most often listening to this book was “Why is everyone so terrible.” Maybe all people with money were just terrible people in Victorian England because I thought the same of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, I don’t know. My second most common thought was “I wonder if JK Rowling based Snape of Heathcliff because they are basically the same human being.”
Let’s begin what I’m sure will be a long winded journey with why I dislike Snape really quick before I move into a discussion of Heathcliff. Snape’s motives throughout the whole 7 books of Harry Potter is his “love” of Lily Potter. Because he “loves” Lily so much, he has to be a jerk to Harry. If Snape had stayed the same way he was in the first book, cold, but still moderately helpful, I think he would have been fine. However, as Harry gets older and –to Snape– became more like James, Snape becomes crueler and crueler to this teenage boy because he felt wrong by the boy’s mother over 20 years earlier. Listen, Snape, you called your best friend a racial slur in front of a bunch of people and then got mad that she didn’t want to hang out with you anymore. Chill. On top of this, his treatment to Neville –and Gryffindors in general– is petty high school crap that a 31-year-old man (as he was in the first book) is still be hung up on. It’s time to move on. Snape is an interesting character, a well-written, great character, but he was a terrible human being.
And now Heathcliff, who got mad that his adopted sister didn’t wait for him after he ran away and instead married a man of means that I think she loved– in her own way– so he was manipulated every situation possible to steal land and make the heirs of his adopted family miserable.
From what I got out of the book, Heathcliff was a street orphan in Liverpool, so Mr. Earnshaw saved him from being Oliver Twist (or possibly kidnapped him) and brought him home to live with his family which has two children approximately his age.
As he grows up he falls in love with is adopted sister Cathrine, and she falls for him. However, this is Victorian England and marrying into a good (read: rich) family is important. As Heathcliff realizes that he will never marry her, he runs away to do who knows what, perhaps join the army, and when he returns Catherine is married to the neighbor boy Edgar Lindon. Heathcliff is so angry about this that he moves into his childhood home where his adopted brother, Hindley, lives and through some means gets his brother to mortgage his house through Heathcliff so that when Hinley dies a short time later, he gets the house. Heathcliff then decides that he will treat Hinley’s son, Hareton, like a servant kind of– a farm hand, which from what I understand is how Heathcliff grew up for the most part. He deprives this young man of growing up to be a gentleman like his father and grandfather, as his family name should allow him to be. Because of Heathcliff, Hareton doesn’t learn to read or write and never gets any kind of schooling.
Heathcliff was never particularly pleasant, but the way he treated Hareton really started to turn me against him.
Out of spite (?) or possibly hatred, Heathcliff married Cathrine’s sister-in-law. In his mind, he is formulating a plan to get the house that the Lindon’s live in. I cannot for the life of me figure out why he wants it so much. He does discuss wanting to get rid of it, and all thoughts of the Lindon family along with it, but I don’t understand.
After Cathrine dies in childbirth with her daughter, Cathy, Heathcliff’s wife realizes that his is not just a misunderstood misanthrope but a terrible human being, and leaves him, several months later giving birth to Heathcliff’s child that she (not confusingly) named Lindon.
It should be mentioned that Cathy is described as looking much more like her father than her mother, except for her eyes, she has Cathrine’s eyes. (This will be important later)
Mrs. Heathcliff dies, and Lindon is sent to live with his uncle, Edgar, and his cousin Cathy. However, Heathcliff discovers that his has a son and decides to take him, even though Lindon had never known his father and knew his uncle and Heathcliff didn’t like children. Because to Heathcliff, Lindon is his property and Heathcliff is obsessed with wanting what is his.
Some time passes, and for whatever reason, young Cathy falls in love with her first cousin Lindon, and Cathy’s father forbids her to see him, but Heathcliff manipulates everything until Heathcliff basically kidnaps and imprisons Cathy while her father is on his deathbed until she agrees to, and then formally marries Lindon her terminally ill cousin. Heathcliff does this because he knows Cathy’s father is dying and that in his will he would pass down the house and lands to Cathy. If Cathy is married it will go directly to her husband. THEN Heathcliff locks her in a room so she can’t go see her dying father so she can’t tell him that she’s married to Lindon so that he doesn’t have time before dying to change his will.
Then Lindon dies of tuberculosis, and Heathcliff gets the Grange!
This is the part where the Snape stuff really started to hit me.
Heathcliff arrives at his new property, The Grange, and dismisses the servants and decides what he wants and what he doesn’t want to keep. One thing that Heathcliff personally takes is a portrait of Cathrine that was part of a pair with her husband that hung in the parlor. Listening to that part, reminded me so much of Snape ripping apart the photo of the Potter Family and the piece of the letter he found with Lily’s signature from the house in Godric’s Hallow. Heathcliff is forcibly removing Cathrine from her family. Heathcliff also does this super creepy thing where he breaks into her coffin and breaks the side of it so that when he dies, he can have his coffin fitted to it. Which reminds me of the scene in the Deathly Hallows movie where Snape cuddles the dead body of Lily while baby Harry cries in the crib behind him.
Hareton, Hindley’s son that became Heathcliff’s ward, still lives at Wuthering Heights working as a farm hand at this point in the story. Hareton and Cathy now both live there living under Heathcliff’s thumb as he sometimes violently attacks and berated them for existing in his presence. Much like Snape does to Harry. I equate Cathy with Harry and Hareton with Neville a lot in this part of the story. Hindley was never kind to Heathcliff, but I never felt that he was cruel to him. They were just guys that didn’t like each other. Hindley was jealous that his father favored Heathcliff when they were children, but they are now adults. However, after Hindley dies, Heathcliff makes sure that Hareton will have nothing. That he is nothing, the same way that Snape, time and time again, cuts Neville Longbottom off at the knees as he tries his hardest to do everything his teacher says. Like Harry and Neville, both Cathy and Hareton have the power to change the course of things in the book, and in the end, they both, in their own way do.
There comes a moment late in the book where (first cousins) Hareton and Cathy (who are now secretly courting) are reading by the fire, and they look up at Heathcliff. Heathcliff is struck by the fact that they have the same eyes. Cathrine’s eyes, because they are first cousins and these are apparently the family eyes. I’m sure that along with the extra arms their children will have also have the same eyes. STOP MARRYING YOUR COUSIN! Cathy marries all of her cousins. Like go into town and meet someone you are not related to.
Sorry, anyway, Heathcliff looks into these four eyes and sees Cathrine’s eyes and it changes him and then he, like, starves to death because of the ghost of Cathrine. That’s how I understood it.
Snape and Heathcliff both feel that this incredible wrong was done to them by the women they love. I do feel like Heathcliff has an actual argument for this one because Cathrine did say that she would marry him and then changed her mind when she realized they wouldn’t have any money. But to hold onto that for over 20 years and then take it out on children who had nothing to do with it because you can’t take it out on the actual person because they are dead is gross inexcusable behavior. Snape, as I mentioned above, does the same thing. He takes out his grievances with his former classmates and former members of the Orginal Order of the Phoenix out on the second generation, his students who he is responsible for. It’s not cool, and I don’t understand why people excuse abusive, manipulative behavior because of “love.” It’s not love anymore, it’s creepy obsession.
Hareton was very young when is parents died, and unlike Neville, never knew much about them until he was in his early twenties when Cathy tells him that the house he lives in what his father’s family house. Heathcliff, from the time Hareton was around 5, systematically strips away everything about Hareton’s heritage.
Heathcliff manipulates everything around him to get petty revenge that in the end doesn’t matter. At the very least, Snape tried to protect Harry as a part of Lily. He did a terrible job except for the one time that he saves Harry from falling off his broom in the first book, but Snape and Heathcliff are focused on childish revenge fantasies that in the end don’t matter. The “wrong” in both cases were over 20 years prior. Nothing good comes of holding on to these kinds of things. It turns you into a bitter, angry person. That accomplishes nothing in the end.
Have you read Wuthering Heights? What did you think of it? Did you pull any parallels to a modern story?
Until next time Internet,