15 November 2010

A Tale of Two Moors

I have just finished listening/reading to "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte. This is considered a classic book and I felt it was part of my continuing cultural education to read it.
The story is set in an old house built beside the moors where winds "wuther" or blow a lot.  Just like in the excellent book "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Unlike The Secret Garden, Wuthering Heights is a continuing sad tale about a complete cast of dysfunctional selfish characters.  Even the character you would most want to treat favourably, the house maid Ellen/Nellie, is a complete loser who continues to make the wrong choices dooming those in her charge to worse fates.  A little bit of honesty and courage would have completely changed the lives she cared so much about.
All I knew about Wuthering Heights before reading it was that there were two lovers Heathcliff and Cathy, calling each other's name across a grassy field.  Now I know Heathcliff was a selfish, vindictive psychopath intent on destruction for all those who he felt would hinder his "love" for Cathy - a self important selfish stupid girl.
Cathy marries the stupid rich guy next door, although she really "loved" the poor selfish guy Heathcliff.  Then the girl next door is married to Heathcliff despite all warnings and immediately regrets her choice. The servants, family, lawyers and doctors are all hopeless cases in a tangled "love" story.  The love in this story ends with the survivors getting married for no convincing reason.  Every other central character (other than Ellen/Nellie) dies a sickly or miserable death.  There is no redemption or true love in the whole thing.
Compare this with The Secret Garden.  Now here is a story where we start with lots of self love and selfishness, bitterness and despair.  But it all turns around - without any tragic or miserable deaths - with every major character realising the futility of despair and selfishness to be truly happy.
And the wisest character is the mother on the moor with a bucketload of children, respected by all for her knowledge and wisdom.
I suppose those of a "romantic" disposition favour the "love" story in Wuthering Heights but I reckon this is a real problem.  If Wuthering Heights is taken as a guide for how love works it will certainly lead to a life of misery.  Look around society today for exactly that result.
The Secret Garden is much closer to the truth.  And a much better read.

1 comment:

Bretta said...

Glad to see a few new blog posts! Good reading :o)
Would love to see posts from the kids when you don't have time or inclination to post...hint, hint!!!
Hope you are all well. We are busy as always and along with being the Director of the Co-op now, I also care several times a week for an elderly couple(90 and 95) who are our friends and have no family here. Keeps me hopping, but with only Reece at home now things aren't as busy on the homefront. Anywho...take care! Hugs to the fam!