I have to explain to someone at least 5 times a year what Wuthering Heights is actually about. It’s my favourite novel, quite predictably, and for me its message changes every time my own life does. It’s a novel that grows and shrinks and wavers with you, it is temperamental, and it is not romantic. It is fierce, and nasty, and low-down, and selfish, but it is still one of the greatest love stories ever told. Why, though? Well, it’s certainly not a relationship guide. Don’t aspire to be Catherine and Heathcliff, but do try to empathise with them.
Catherine describes herself as half-savage, and she is. She’s always been spoilt, and is not used to not getting what she wants – she is absolutely downright dislikable and yet people continue to fall in love with her. She manages to convince a man to marry her, on the grounds that he shall finance her lifestyle, and perhaps offer some respite. She marries him, because she is pissed off at Heathcliff. Who *does* that?! It is said of Edgar: “I observed that Mr. Edgar had a deep-rooted fear of ruffling [Catherine’s] humour. He concealed it from her; but if ever he heard me answer sharply, or saw any other servant grow cloudy at some imperious order of hers, he would show his trouble by a frown of displeasure that never darkened on his own account.”. Catherine marries a man who is essentially terrified of her, and Cathy perpetuates that. She enjoys it. She makes it clear to Edgar she’s in love with Heathcliff and gets in a snot with him when he meekly suggests it would be sort of nice if maybe she could stop hanging out with Heathcliff so much, which she meets with downright rage and temper tantrums. So no, you don’t want to be like Cathy. Being like Heathcliff is even worse – it’s said he perhaps murdered men to make his own fortune, a fortune he only made to piss Cathy off. He’s violent, he fights, he’s a monster. He marries Cathy’s sister-in-law, again, just to piss Cathy off. So no, you don’t want to be like Heathcliff either. So why do I hang onto this novel so much?
Catherine and Heathcliff are terrible people and I don’t believe they cling onto each-other because they were born to love one another. I believe they are both aware of their own deep-seated flaws and their empathy with one another is what keeps them in love. When Catherine *does* try to settle down with a Jolly Nice Chap, she fucking destroys him. She doesn’t necessarily want to, but she does. She fucks his life up. When Heathcliff tries to be “normal”, he ends up fucking shit up for absolutely everyone. But what they have is each-other. Cathy and Heathcliff are a great romantic tragedy because they were both damned from the start, not from anything supernatural, but because they were just born bad. People who are born bad aren’t allowed to be happy. Cathy and Heathcliff aren’t the kind of couple who would take cute trips to the seaside and instagram pictures of them sweetly eating ice-cream together because that’s not the people they are. They aren’t allowed happiness. They are not allowed to have traditional, romantic love. They are damned to belong to each-other. At least with each-other, they know they can weather each storm because they are the only people in the world who can truly not only see the good in each-other, but overlook the bad. Catherine could have tried hard to change herself, and been happy with Edgar, with all of her new found wealth and status. She did, in fact, enjoy her time away from Heathcliff. She became a Lady, a member of society, even. Heathcliff could have been happy without Catherine, he made a lot of money, he became successful. He could have done anything he wanted. But in the end the pull of their love brought them back together and eventually they both had to question themselves: “Why change now? Why bother changing my faults if someone will love me for them?” and that’s the real tragedy. As I said, Wuthering Heights isn’t romantic. You should not want to be like Cathy and Heathcliff. But if you’re a really shitty person and you know you are, and you wonder why everyone you love eventually leaves you, read Wuthering Heights and depress yourself even further that the only kind of love you’re going have for any length of time is with a right cunt like Heathcliff, but then, you don’t really deserve any better.
And that’s the difference between women who love Heathcliff and women who love Mr Darcy. Mr Darcy women know they are kind and good people, who deserve a kind and good Darcy. It will be insipid, dull, and easy, and that’s what some crave. Heathcliff women know they are complicated and ‘bad’, and if they end up with an Edgar who will adore them at their best, when they are beautiful and effervescent and burning brilliantly and bright, but cannot put up with them at their worst, they know they need to turn to a Heathcliff, who at least, will weather the storms because only they can understand the true beauty their patience will give them.