Mystery solved! My sister sent me the books! Thank you, Sabes!
Today, I finally finished reading “Wuthering Heights”.
Something I’ve been thinking about for at least the past I’ll say ten (probably more) years, and something I’ll be thinking about for at least the next three, is the purpose (if there is one) of fiction.
I’ve heard a variety of theories: to inspire an emotion in the reader, to create a changed state in the main character (and/or in the reader), to entertain and educate.
My purpose in writing a piece of fiction is to answer a question. I’ve said in the past that I use writing to run experiments that would otherwise be too costly or immoral to produce with actual test humans.
I’m not sure that I need fiction to have a “Purpose”, but I left “Wuthering Heights” with a feeling of frustration. Partially because the only character I truly sympathized for was the heath. Partially because I didn’t think that the main character (who I’ll argue is Heathcliff) showed any sign of transformation.
And it isn’t that every main character needs to be transformed. It’s only that I’m tired of certain type of story that celebrates an “anti-hero” without hesitation. Not that “Wuthering Heath” celebrates Heathcliff, but it does show him beating his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law, abusing them all mentally and emotionally, disinheriting his nephew and all without the narrator (Nelly Dean) ever truly rejecting him.
There’s a tacit agreement that Heathcliff’s story is worth telling. Or that Walter White’s story is worth telling. Or Joe Exotic. Or fill in the blank.
Giving these people or characters the stage and the audience only reinforces their power in the collective psyche.
Not saying that we can’t have stories about bad people or regular people doing bad things or what have you, but as a writer, I’m more interested in writing about why this sort of thing happens rather than simply the titillating delight of observing and recreating suffering. And as a reader, I try to seek out stories that will challenge my thinking, encourage me to grow and change, show me a new perspective.
For me, there is nothing to be gained from the story of Heathcliff and Catherine. People do bad things, abuse each other, and die.
As a final caveat, I’ll say again how much the landscape writing moved me. Those were my favorite parts and the only redeeming note I took from the book. It goes to show how a writer’s environment can impact their creative genius.
I never got to write about “Wuthering Heights” in high school, so I had to make up for that now.
All the best,