Today is the birthday of Emily Bronte. I know people who think of Wuthering Heights as the most romantic book ever. If they mean this in the traditional, lovey-dovey sense, it tells me that they've seen the movie, not read the book. The book is one of the most Romantic works ever, but only in the literary history sense of that term.
I was thinking about Wuthering Heights and the life lessons the book contains. Let me list some of them.
--The man who hangs your puppy does not have your best interests at heart. If we could all learn no other lesson than this one, that's the most important one.
--But perhaps hanging the puppy isn't a clear enough sign. If someone warns you that your beloved is dangerous, take a minute to ponder that possibility before dismissing it.
--The servants, although they may be incomprehensible to you, know everything that's happening throughout the house.
--If you come across a house full of mad inhabitants, keep walking.
--If you're sleeping in a room that has a ghost wailing at the window, sleep somewhere else.
--Every personality that comes into the household will change the household in some way.
--If you mistreat the outsider, it will not end well for you.
--Do not underestimate the rage of the lower classes.
--In a house full of angry people, it's not good to be the dog. Or the child. Or the servant. Or the woman.
--Dysfunctional patterns repeat through the generations. Now we accept this idea as a psychological fact, but in Emily Bronte's hands, it seems freshly inspired and more fully realized than the work that came before it.
--Nature might provide solace, but it also might be isolating and a curse of sorts. The weather and the landscape aren't always friendly to humans--seldom, in fact.
--How would this novel be different had there been good medical care? Or reliable transportation? Don't underestimate the importance of good medical care and reliable transportation.
--Above all, this book makes me glad to be alive in my century. I wouldn't want to live in this landscape, this house, this time period.