I am currently reading Wuthering Heights. I love this book, but I love the mystery of the author even more. Emily only wrote one novel during her lifetime. She died at the age of 30. I at 31 have already lived longer than she did. Her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, were also writers. But while Emily only achieved one published novel in her career, her sister Anne achieved two published novels and Charlotte was able to publish four completed novels. To add insult to injury, after Wuthering Heights was published the work was attributed to Charlotte. Charlotte of course denied the authorship, but it was difficult to change the public’s mind. After all, remember that all of these women did not use their real names—they were writing under nom de plumes. I was always put off by this need to hide. As a modern and feminist woman, I have never felt a need to hide my femininity. But as I grew older and I realized that I was never going to be a woman that a man would fall in love with. I watched as my peers all started dating, and I was left out. I was too much of a sinner in my church and too much of a holy roller for my peers. I wonder if Emily was also this way. Stuck between not being able to get along with her peers, and unable to find a place in this world—so she made a world that she could live in. Maybe Emily created this world through her writing.
Each time I read Wuthering Heights, I am struck by how private the world of this novel seems. After all the narrative only takes place between two houses. The third aspect of the narrative is the Yorkshire moors. All of the characters are isolated in this world. Only two characters actually escape the moors and see the outside world. Cathy’s father and Heathcliff both come from the “outside” or have contact with the outside world. Cathy is never on the outside of the rivalry of the two homes that decide the course of her life. Every time that I read this novel I am still shocked about how unable Cathy is unable to remove herself from the forces that tie her to the moors and the two houses that she moves between.
So here I am reading this novel again…attempting to understand the author whose mysteries I will never understand. The edition of Wuthering Heights that I am reading is the Norton Critical Edition. The reason why I picked this edition is not only for the extra notes and essays that are also included, but also for the picture on the front of the book. The picture is actually a pathway that Emily walked from her home to the moors. Her feet touched this path. What thoughts were in her head? Was she lonely? Did she regret the decisions that she made? Did she know that she was going to die soon? How badly did she miss her sisters and her mother who had died? How badly did her heart break for her bother that was consumed by drug addiction? Where did Cathy come from? I hope to answer all of these questions when I read the novel again. And I promise to let you know.
Here is the picture that is on the front of my book:
Here is the Yorkshire moors: