What, you may ask, are my thoughts about Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, now that it's finished? There are many, I promise you, as it is a surprisingly complex book. By and large, however, my reaction can be summed up in one five letter word, repeated over and over again. Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy, this book is freaking key-ray-zee.
Here, I thought I was getting into a Victorian manners drama, albeit on the dark side, when I get this: "My surprise and perplexity were great to discover, by touch more than vision, Miss Isabella's springer, Fanny, suspended to a handkerchief, and nearly at its last gasp."
For no reason that I can fathom, Heathcliff sneaks into Thrushcross Grange and strings up Isabella Linton's dog. I really didn't get it, because he had already decided he wanted to marry her. Not exactly a winning engagement present, you know? From a narrative perspective, the near doggy demise is just foreshadowing, a prelude, to the violent, malicious heartlessness which dominates Heathcliff's character.
The more I consider Mr. Heathcliff and what we, as readers, come to know about him, the more perplexed I become. On the one hand, we are made witness to many drastic and telling actions on his part. He is physically and emotionally cruel, and at times down right spiteful. On the other hand, we know so little about his past or motivations, he remains a mystery throughout the novel. I've never run across this particular duality before, and I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it.
From the minute he enters the story, Heathcliff uses people. He manipulates the old Mr. Earnshaw into loving him more than the man's own children. After his "father's" death and Catherine's marriage to Edgar Linton, Heathcliff disappears for a while. When he comes back, however, he immediately ensconces himself in Wuthering Heights and begins to swindle the young Earnshaw out of his lands and money. We don't see this happen directly because Nelly, the narrator, is never present when it happens, but there are hints that a great deal of alcohol and gambling are involved. When it suits him, Heathcliff convinces Isabella Linton, Catherine's sister-in-law, to fall in love with him and get married. From this union, he connives to obtain a son and, ultimately, control of Thrushcross Grange and its lands. In the end, he manages to come from nothing and gain control of all that he has a mind to possess. It is done, however, with a rapaciousness which was sometimes difficult to read.