Rating - Read
Shoba De (or someone equally silly) had mentioned somewhere that every woman should have known a guy like Heathcliff sometime in her life. Curious, I decided that the book mandated a rereading. Besides, now that I am in love with my IPad and can download classics free of cost, I am quite motivated to read the ones I had read back in school and the ones I have never read.
So I read the book and at the end of it my reaction was (pardon my language) ‘What shit’. Who in their right mind would want to have met a psychopath like Heathcliff!
That apart, the book itself is quite interesting. It is set at a time when locals intermingled and inter married depending on their class and the world outside was a place to be visited if you had the means and the need. The story is told through Mr Lockwood, who decides to rent a house in this cold and depressing northern village, with a keen intent to rejoice in his isolation. He soon realises the need for company and get his housekeeper, Ellen Dean, to tell the story of his neighbour and landlord, Heathcliff.
The story takes everyone back by twenty – twenty-five years. Heathcliff is an orphan, taken in by landowner Earnshaw. Earnshaw’s daughter, Catherine finds a kindred soul in Heathcliff’s free spirit, similar to her own. However, when it is time for marriage, she goes with the sensible choice of her time and marries Linton, from the only other family in the same class. Heathcliff is jilted and has his revenge by marrying Linton’s sister. Meanwhile, Earnshaw is dead and his son Hindley is wasting away after the death of his wife, post-child birth. Heathcliff usurps Hindley’s wealth. Catherine has a child and so does Heathcliff. Hindley, Catherine, Linton and his sister, all die one by one.
The stage is set for Heathcliff to continue seeking revenge on the next generation, which is when Mr Lockwood becomes a casual bystander. The story continues as the saga of a man, driven by love and malice to wreck so many lives.
The settings match the story – the village is covered in dense snow most of the time, there are windy cliffs nearby and one needs to be hardy to survive in good health in the area.
The writing, character development and the story are all captivating. There is no doubt that Heathcliff is a special character indeed and fascinates for being so unapologetic about his intent and action. Yet, suggesting that every woman should have known such a character shows a tendency towards masochism.