Category Archives: Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights Character Review: Nelly Dean

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In every madhouse, there is usually one sane person. This person is usually the eyes and ears of audience member or the reader and is the only person who can tell the story without prejudice. In Wuthering Heights, that sane person is Nelly Dean. Nelly is the housekeeper/mother figure who tries to keep the peace in the family. Tries is the key word here.

She introduced early in the story when Mr. Lockwood, the tenant at Thrushcross Grange visits Wuthering Heights to introduce himself to Heathcliff, his landlord. Unable to return to Thrushcross Grange because of the weather, Nelly takes pity on Mr. Lockwood and tells him the story of the house and its former occupants.

As much as Nelly tries to keep the peace and the sanity in Wuthering Heights, she can’t. Not for lack of trying, but because the ones who she gives advice to decide to do what they think is best, regardless of her advice. It is Nelly who Cathy goes to after agreeing to marry Edgar, but not sure that marrying him is a good idea. A generation later, Nelly tries to stop Heathcliff from imprisoning Catherine Linton (Cathy’s daughter) and forcing Catherine to marry Linton.

To sum it up: Emily Bronte was one of the greatest writers of the past 200 years for a reason. In creating Nelly Dean, she understood that Nelly not only needed to be the eyes and ears of the audience, but she also needed to be the eye of the storm that is Wuthering Heights. When a writer creates a world and narrative that is out there, he or she needs to have at least one character who is clear and level headed. It is that character who the audience relies on as the steady, reliable voice of sanity. Without that character, the reader of the audience may not be able to latch onto the story and may walk away.

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Wuthering Heights Character Review: Heathcliff

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is something magical about a romantic leading man. Even in human form, with his imperfections, there is something ideal and dreamy about this kind of character. On the surface, Heathcliff, the male protagonist of Wuthering Heights seems like the romantic leading who sweeps not just the female protagonist off her feet, but the readers as well. The important word in that sentence is seems.

Heathcliff’s origins are unknown. He is an orphan found on the streets by Mr. Earnshaw and taken back to Wuthering Heights. Raised within the family, Heathcliff’s soulmate is Catherine, Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter. His nemesis is Catherine’s older brother, Hindley.  After Mr. Earnshaw dies and Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is cast out of his comfortable life and forced into servitude.  His bitterness and anger are kept at bay because Catherine is around.

Heathcliff’s bitterness and anger starts to grow exponentially when Catherine gets engaged to Edgar Linton, the son of a wealthy and respectable family. Vowing to get revenge, but still deeply in love with Catherine, Heathcliff comes back a few years later with a tidy fortune and ready to get back at those who he believed wronged him. But along the way of getting his revenge, Heathcliff leaves a few victims in his wake: his wife, Isabella Heathcliff (nee Linton), and the next generation of Lintons, Earnshaws and Heathcliffs. But in the end, it is his pure and abiding love for Catherine that prevents the darkness from completely swallowing him.

To sum it up: the idea of Prince Charming is nice, but Prince Charming is boring. It’s been done to death. Readers remember Heathcliff because while he is a dark character whose actions and morals are questionable (especially in the second half of the book), he loves Catherine. He loves her so much that after she dies, he begs her spirit to stay with him. He keeps going back to her after she has married, knowing full well that she is married and not caring a fig for her marriage. Sometimes the key to a writer’s success is to take a standard character, add in a few out of left field characteristics, flip the character on its head and see what happens. It is the joy of writing and the joy of reading to discover a character who has been seen before, but is also totally new and different that he or she is unforgettable.

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Wuthering Heights Character Review: Catherine Earnshaw

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The best love stories always have an obstacle to the potential happiness of the couple. The best stories sometimes have a character who is standing in the way of their own happiness. This, in a nutshell is Catherine Earnshaw, the heroine of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

Catherine is the daughter of the local gentry. We first meet Catherine when her father brings home Heathcliff, her adopted brother/soulmate. Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together, joined at the hip until they reach early adulthood. Then reality sets in. Mr. Earnshaw dies and Catherine’s older brother, Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights. Hindley was never fond of Heathcliff when they were boys. Without anyone to stand in his way, Hindley openly and maliciously abuses Heathcliff.

While this is happening, the audience and Catherine are introduced to the brother and sister duo of Edgar and Isabella Linton. While it is obvious that there is a strong connection between Catherine and Heathcliff, there is also the pressure of the world of Victorian era England. It would be a disgrace for Catherine to marry Heathcliff, despite their deep love. Heathcliff has no money, no social standing and his origins are unknown. In short, it would cause quite the scandal if the lovers were to marry.

“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

After Catherine marries Edgar and Heathcliff disappears, she appears for a time, to have put aside the wild child sensibility and become a proper lady. But when Heathcliff returns as a wealthy man and starts to not court Isabella, Catherine becomes jealous. Pitting her husband and her soulmate against one another, she becomes ill and dies just moments after her daughter in born.

To sum it up: There are always obstacles, whether on the page or in life. We have two choices, we can find a way to overcome the obstacles or we can take the easy way out.  Catherine unfortunately, takes the easy way out and pays for her choices. As writers, we don’t always have to lead our characters down the right path. Sometimes, we lead our characters go down the wrong path and let them pay for their choices.

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The World Within: A Novel of Emily Brontë Book Review

Among the three Bronte sisters, Emily, the second to youngest was the most introspective and private. Her social circle was limited to her family, her close friends and her animals. She rarely traveled outside of her hometown of Haworth, England. She was not concerned with being fashionable or climbing the social ladder. Her sole completed novel, Wuthering Heights is one of the most respected and admired novels in the English language.

Jane Eagland’s 2015 novel, The World Within: A Novel of Emily Brontë, takes place when Emily is a teenager. Her widowed father, Patrick is doing his best to raise his children with the help of his sister-in-law. The Bronte children have created stories over the years about vast and imaginative lands with colorful characters. But life is beginning to change, as it must.

Patrick gets sick and there is a concern about what will happen if he does not survive. The sisters realize that they must learn to fend for themselves. But the question is, how will they learn to fend themselves with no dowry, no connections, no income and limited professional opportunities that does not include marriage?

Among the Bronte sisters, Emily is the most fascinating. She was passionate, opinionated and fiery. And yet under the mask of the quiet Parson’s daughter, few knew who she really was. As a reader, a writer and a fan of the Brontes, it’s always interesting to learn what events and experiences shaped them into the women we know them to be today. The question is then, can a modern writer truly find their way into Emily’s life and psyche to write a novel about Emily Bronte before she became the giant of literature that we know her to be today?

On a scale of 1-10, 10 meaning the book was superb and 1 being that the book is horrible, I would give the book a rating of 5. It was ok, but it was a bit slow in the beginning and I struggled to stay focused on the story during parts of the narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Desperate times often calls for desperate measures. The questions are, what are we willing to give up in the process and how does that process change us?

In the new movie, Lady Macbeth (which has no connection to William Shakespeare character other than the title of the film), Katherine (Florence Pugh) is a young woman sold in the name of marriage to an older man. Forbidden from doing much of anything, Katherine is left alone with only her servants for company while her husband and father in law go out into the world. She starts sleeping with Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), one of her husband’s groomsman. The affair quickly becomes an affair of the heart. But things get messy when her husband and father in law return home. Katherine and Sebastian try to clean up the mess they have created. But the more they try to clean it up, the messier it becomes.

The best way to describe this film is that it is a hybrid of the psychology of an Alfred Hitchcock film with the imagery and narrative of a Wuthering Heights adaptation. It also speaks truth to power about what a woman will do when she has no direct power and must use other means to get what she wants. The three things that stand out for me are a) the diverse cast b) the lack of music and how background sounds play a role in telling the story and c) how I felt as an audience member when the film was done. I disliked Katherine for her actions, but in understanding her motivation, it made for a very well done film.

I absolutely recommend it.

Lady Macbeth is presently in theaters.

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To Walk Invisible Review

The key elements of a successful biopic, especially one where the subjects are legendary in their own right, are as follows: a compelling narrative and adherence to the facts of the subject’s life to engage both the novice viewer and the viewer who is well versed on the subject’s life.

On Sunday night, PBS aired To Walk Invisible, a biopic of the Brontes. The Reverend Patrick Bronte (Jonathan Pryce) is a widower living with his surviving children, who are all grown and seem to be flailing emotionally. The eldest daughter, Charlotte (Finn Atkins) is passionate and ambitious. Branwell, the only boy (Adam Nagaitis) is the ne’er-do-well dreamer with the growing alcohol addiction. Emily (Chloe Pirrie) is as fiery as she is private. The baby of the family, Anne (Charlie Murphy) is the peace maker.

As the sisters work towards their dream of becoming published authors, Branwell descends rapidly into a haze of grief and addiction that will overtake the entire family.

Anyone who knows me (or has read this blog), knows that I worship the literary ground that the Brontes walk on. Their books are nothing short of genius. Unfortunately, I cannot say that same about this television movie. Granted, it is one shot, 2 hour television movie, so for timing reasons, cannot contain every moment of their lives. That’s not my issue.

My issue is that it went a little too fast and the ending felt very abrupt. Certain facts (which I will not mention here due to the fact that they are a little spoiler-y for novice Bronte fans) were not mentioned. Not only that, but the narrative spent too much time on Branwell and not enough time on his sisters, who are the main characters.

Do I recommend it? As much as I would love to say an enthusiastic yes, I can’t. I have to give a mere maybe.

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To Walk Invisible Trailer

A good biopic is hard to come by. On one hand, it has to be true to the real life subjects that are being portrayed on-screen. But, on the other hand, it must be entertaining and keep the audience engaged.

To Walk Invisible is the new biopic based on the life Emily, Anne and Charlotte Bronte. Stepping into the roles of the the legendary sisters are Charlie Murphy (Anne Bronte), Chloe Pirrie (Emily Bronte) and Finn Atkins (Charlotte Bronte). Playing their widower father Patrick is Jonathan Pryce and their brilliant but drug addicted brother, Branwell is Adam Nagaitis.

While there is no official air date in the US (it premieres in the UK on December 29th), I have a feeling the bookworms, anglophiles and Bronte fans will be pleased with this fictional imaging of the three of the world’s greatest authors.

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The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family Book Review 

In their lifetimes, Emily, Anne and Charlotte Bronte wereally considered to be unremarkable, with one exception. Their writing was remarkable.

In 1994, Juliet Barker published The Brontes Wild Genius On The Moors: The Story Of A Literary Family. In 2010, the book was re-released and updated with new information that was not contained within the original volume.

The book starts as it should with the Bronte patriarch, Patrick. It also ends with him, as the sole surviving Bronte. He buried his wife and six children, not knowing that his youngest daughters would live forever through their writing. His son, Branwell, was equally as brilliant as his sisters, but was unfortunately felled by an alcohol addiction.

I really liked this book.  As a Bronte fan,  I knew much of the information that was contained within the book. But what Ms. Barker has brilliantly done is add new material while properly  telling the story of the Brontes.

I recommend it.

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Solsbury Hill: A Novel Book Review

To those who knew her during her short lifetime, Emily Bronte was simply the shy, eccentric daughter of Patrick Bronte, a man who was fiercer in his eccentricities than his daughter. Keeping to close family and friends and to nature, the next to youngest Miss Bronte was not much for fashionable society.  Her sole novel, Wuthering Heights, is the story of unfulfilled, wild passion against a sea of Victorian sensibility and propriety. She died at the young age of 30, leaving her mark in the world via her novel, which is still beloved and debated 160 years after its initial publishing.

But what if there was more to Emily Bronte? What if the passion between her iconic lovers, Heathcliff and Cathy were an echo of her own life?

In Solsbury Hill: A Novel, by Susan Wyler starts in modern-day New York City. Eleanor Abbott appears to know her path in life. Her career as a fashion designer is starting to take off. Her relationship with Miles, her boyfriend/childhood best friend is nothing but solid.  Then, as all good novels start, the protagonist is knocked off that projected path. First Eleanor catches Miles cheating on her. Then she receives a phone call about her Aunt Alice, her late mother’s older sister. Alice is on her deathbed and wants to see her niece one last time before she leave this world.

Leaving the concrete jungle for the wild moors of Yorkshire,  Eleanor is swept into a mystery about her family past and how they might be connected to Emily Bronte. Encountering ghosts, a family mystery and her aunt’s adopted son, Eleanor is drawn into the past as she tries to figure out where  her heart and her future lies.

I will say it straight out. I loved this book. I loved the mystery, I loved how Ms. Wyler hooked me right away. I also loved that Ms. Wyler kept the undercurrent of the narrative of Wuthering Heights while exploring the idea that the image that modern readers have of Emily Bronte might differ from the reality of her life.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Emily’s Ghost Book Review

Among the literary set, Emily Bronte is a giant among giants. Her sole novel, Wuthering Heights, is equally one of the most romantic novels ever written while exposing to hypocrisy of life in Victorian England.

In 2010, Denise Giardina published Emily’s Ghost. Taking the reader into the head of one of the most reclusive writers, we see the world through Emily’s eyes. Disdaining proper society, Emily Bronte is an outsider who has no pretensions to fit in. She wears outdated fashion, rarely speaks to anyone outside of her family, is happiest walking on moors with her pets and writes poetry that is fiercely contradictory to the image that most see of her.

Enter William Weightman. Patrick Bronte is not a young man anymore. Mr. Weightman is hired to take on the duties that Reverend Bronte cannot. Young, open-hearted and idealistic, William Weightman is sought after by several young women as a prospective husband. Surprisingly, he slowly falls in love with Patrick Bronte’s second to youngest daughter, who is anything but conventional. Despite her misgivings about living a conventional life and all that it entails (marriage included), Emily is equally in love.  While I keep hoping that Emily Bronte will have a happy ending, history would dictate otherwise.

This book is nothing short of amazing. Seeing the world through the eyes of one of the greatest writers of the English language was thrilling. As a writer and a woman, I find Emily Bronte (and her sisters by extension), to be nothing short of heroes. They defied the idea of what it was not just to be a writer and a woman, but to be a woman writer. In breaking the mold, they paved the way for the rest of us.

I absolutely recommend this book.

 

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