Wuthering Heights is one of the best-known novels in the history of English literature. This novel tells a love story packed with passion and vengeance. In Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte portrayed a profound and tempestuous love story between Catherine and Heathcliff. Catherine belonged to an elegant, rich family while Heathcliff was an urchin. He was taken home from Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw, Catherine's father. Catherine soon fell in love with Heathcliff and Heathcliff started liking her too. But Catherine's elder brother Hindley could not stand Heathcliff's intimacy with Catherine. He often talked to Heathcliff in a very unfriendly way and looked down upon him as an outsider. Even he turned Heathcliff into a slave. He forced Heathcliff to work like a ploughboy and a domestic serf. But all these hostile deeds by Hindley failed to keep Catherine and Heathcliff apart from each other. As Hindley's maltreatment towards Heathcliff kept on mounting, one night Heathcliff disappeared. This incident hurt Catherine. Hindley soon got Catherine married to Edgar, who belonged to an aristocratic family living at Thrushcross Grange. Hindley did not at all care about his sister's love for Heathcliff. Heathcliff reappeared in the story after three years. He looked much stronger and more handsome than before and there is a hint in the novel that he had made a good amount of money while he had been away. He came back to take revenge on Hindley. He did so by inducing Hindley to become extremely addicted to wine. Hindley borrowed a lot of money from Heathcliff to buy wine but could not pay the money back later on. Heathcliff took advantage of this situation and grabbed all the assets that earlier belonged to Hindley. After that, Heathcliff pretended to be in love with Isabella, Edgar's younger sister. Isabella grew a soft corner for Heathcliff too. Heathcliff married Isabella not out of love; rather he wanted to extract revenge on Edgar by tormenting his sister. Heathcliff was so furious with Edgar because Edgar had taken Catherine away from his life. That's why he treated Isabella in an abusive and violent way.
Catherine was not happy in her marital life with Edgar, even though they had a daughter. Catherine could never stop loving Heathcliff. When she was a young girl, her love for Heathcliff was not granted by her elder brother. She missed Heathcliff all the time, even after her marriage with Edgar. Her marital unhappiness and constant remembrance of Heathcliff made her so sick that soon she died. On the other hand, Isabella could no longer tolerate Heathcliff's torture and one day she escaped to London. After some years she also passed away. To judge from a feminist point of view, Catherine died with immense pain in her heart which was caused by the fact that she was forcibly separated from the man she had loved since her childhood, while Isabella was exploited as a tool for revenge by Heathcliff's intense vengeance.
Wuthering Heights is also regarded as an evidential book for tracing the plight of women in Victorian England from a literary point of view. The portrayal of the deprivations suffered by Catherine and the social injustice that Heathcliff had to undergo during his boyhood at the hands of Edgar illustrate sad instances of gender discrimination and class inequity in England during the 19th century. Wuthering Heights is one of the most popular books in the world on remorseful romance and it has been translated into most of the major languages of the world.
The reviewer is Senior Lecturer, Department of English, Metropolitan University, Sylhet.