02 February 2009

Of Cheese and E. Bronte

First off let's get the preliminaries out of the way, this is an Emily Bronte-free zone. Or, to be more exact, this is a Heathcliff-free zone. Cathy we take issue with as well, but we hold a much larger chunter with Mr. H.
It is almost, almost the same issue I have with those ridiculous people out there in the virtual world who find Severus Snape compelling/sexy/misunderstood, (Les Francais, bien sur.) Except that Snape redeems himself somewhat, (ack, hope I'm not ruining some tortoise's Harry Potter experience here. Really though, slow and steady will only leave you disappointed), and Heathcliff NEVER DOES. He is the most hideous, selfish reprobate, without any of the gorgeous maverick connotations that often come with the latter term.

I think perhaps some of my hatred of Heathcliff (and Cathy) is an extension of my dislike of the layout of the novel. Wuthering Heights is no structural masterpiece. Cathy's early death means that the reader never actually gets a chance to emotionally invest in her relationship with Heathcliff. (And Emily, Heathcliff talking to her ghost and planning to exhume her do not count as relationship progression.)

Of course, we then come to Bronte's complete inability to think of names for her characters. Seriously, she came up with 'Heathcliff' and then had a complete and utter mental block and had to use the same names of the original characters in part 1 for all the other characters in part 2. I know the importance of lineage and family in the story, but when I can't work out if one of the Lintons is courting his sister or his cousin or his niece it's VERY disconcerting.

Hailed as one of the best love stories of the period and in fact IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF LITERATURE if you listen to certain misguided fools, I put forward another argument. This is melodramatic drivel. Twilight and Romeo and Juliet at least attempt to toe the line of decency, although they do overstep it on occasion. The line is not even VISIBLE to Wuthering Heights.

If you're going to do cheese, do it well. Make a minimum of one of the characters in the relationship likeable, relatable or at least believable. Make the sexual tension appealing rather than abhorrent. I do not want to read about greasy-haired leers from the corner or fever-soaked hallucinations that lead to death rather than a romp in the bedroom.

The best part of this novel is at the beginning, with two very choice quotes from Mr Lockwood's narration.. the first being when "Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious phlegm"... hah. The second is when he asks Mrs Heathcliff if her favourite animals are what he assumes to be a pile of sleeping cats on a cushion. "Unluckily, it was a heap of dead rabbits."
Seriously, stop there. That's all you need to read. The rest is just AWFUL.

Rating: 4/10
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