I was looking forward to re-reading this; I remember loving it the first time round. I read it when I was super homesick after moving to Brighton. Joseph’s dialect and the rugged moors were what I needed right then (I remember reading the novel during unseasonal snow in April.) I loved it- it felt like home. So I couldn’t wait to re-read it as part of my Bronte Project.
Well. I seemed to have forgotten HOW BLOODY AWFUL NEARLY EVERYONE IN THE NOVEL WAS. I mean, OK- Mr Earnshaw did a nice thing by bringing poor orphaned Heathcliff home (that ended well for all concerned, didn’t it?) and Nelly Dean isn’t really horrendous– although I wouldn’t buy her ‘Nelly Dean’s Guide To Childrearing and Housekeeping’- but many of the bad things that happen could have been stopped if she’d made better decisions. Both Heathcliff AND Hareton hang puppies as if it’s a thing, Edgar and Linton are weak and the women are not the best either. But still- the book grips you and keeps hold of you until the end.
So what is it about the novel that keeps us reading, despite the fact that you wouldn’t want any of its characters as house guests? I think, quite simply, it’s the atmosphere- it’s dark and brooding, but there is always-sometimes incredibly faint- a hint of hope. A hope that Heathcliff, demented by grief, will rest once he’s reunited with Cathy; that Catherine and Hareton will undo all of the terror inflicted on them by the previous generation.
Is it an easy read? Not really. Is it one that should be read? Definitely.