“He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” writes Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights. And that pretty much sums it up. In such a fascinating and delightful to read book (which I have no idea why I haven't read until now), perhaps the most interesting aspect is how nested the narrative is. Like the way relationships—the good, the bad, and mostly the ugly—pass through generations in Bronte's decadently Gothic novel, the narrative itself is tangled in a web interpersonal connections. Or perhaps it's all coagulated at the bottom of a bog. You get the feeling that, if Nelly Dean were to die, another character would rise in a cloud of mist or steam to pick up the story in a seamless but personally twisted manner. Or if you, the reader, were to suddenly die, Nelly herself would tell your tale.
It's true! Don't believe me? Ask the saucy book, and it will tell you if it's so inclined! The story becomes so meta at points that it passes beyond the definition of meta to break various fourth-walls and remind the reader that even they are a part of the narrative. (Also, it this book begs the question: Why do we praise postmodern masterpieces like Lolita for their unreliable narrators when we have Wuthering Heights as an earlier and perhaps more interesting example?) It's impossible to read this book without realizing how your own inclinations towards any character bends the narrative on its trajectory towards your heart. Good luck trying to justify your love for your favorite jackass of a character. As for me, I'm team Hareton. As someone from a rural community with poor local education (with state funding to blame, not the educators who worked themselves silly trying to impress what they could on sometimes troublesome students like myself) I can easily sympathize with the way Hareton is nearly undone by the roughness of a place like Wuthering Heights and the attitudes of the people who inhabit it. Also, Hareton seems like a gothic combination Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and I love those kids.
But am I an asshole when I root for Cathy #1 and Heathcliff just a little bit? I don't know—but I do know that the tragedy of every character is so delicious that this book left my sense of empathy hungering for more. Do yourself a favor and, as the fall quickly approaches post-eclipse, open the window of that desolate room filled with painful memories in your house and let Emily Bronte's ghost into your chilly life.
Haunt me Emily! Haunt me forever! *laughs manically at the bitter wind*
9/10 snow-covered marshes.