Saturday, June 27, 2009

Heathcliff ... It's Me, Cathy

In the spring of 1986, I suppose, I developed a non-sexual crush on Kate Bush. She was beautiful, deep, poetic, and weird. Her music was intriguing and luring. Sickly sweet and irritating in turns, her voice was like none I had ever heard and I fell quickly into her charms. I listened to The Hounds of Love on a continuous loop for years. It lulled me into a dream-filled sleep and then slapped me awake over and over until I developed the erratic sleep pattern I still suffer today. I have literally hundreds of favorite songs by Kate Bush, including, of course, Wuthering Heights. I still have The Whole Story in regular rotation in my car and the haunting anthem is permanently stuck in my head.
But, strangely, I had never read the book.
I guess I thought I knew the story. I thought Heathcliff was a beautiful, dark, hero with an unmatched passion. A hero I would fall in love with on the wiley, windy moors of Wuthering Heights.
I most certainly did not!
Even when I imagined Heathcliff as absolutely beautiful and kept in mind his sorry beginnings in life, there was no denying: Heathcliff was a son-of-a-bitch in the cruelest sense of the word!
In fact, all of the characters were rather loathsome. Cathy was a self-centered egomaniac with a sharp tongue and rude demeanor and her husband a wimpy simpleton. There was so much deception, anger and abuse, I found myself wondering why anyone ever had the audacity to describe this book as a passionate love story.
However, setting all of that aside, there is no denying this is an amazingly written, haunting, intriguing, often humorous work of art. I found myself laughing out loud at Emily Bronte’s clever writing style and crisp dialog.
Wuthering Heights delves deeply into mental illness, physical and mental abuse and only very lightly on happiness and sanity. But, in the end, I feel the better person for having finally read it!
And I still have a crush on Kate Bush.

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