Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Twilight and Wuthering Heights

As I mentioned previously, I only wanted to read Wuthering Heights because it is mentioned in the 3rd book in the Twilight Saga, Eclipse. It's been several months now since I've read Eclipse, so this post will be mostly my reactions to Wuthering Heights from the perspective of a Twilight fan. I will post again later this month when I've re-read the Twilight Saga and Eclipse is fresh in my mind!

First of all, I can see strong parallels between Wuthering Heights and Eclipse. We have a love triangle - Cathy, Heathcliff, and Edgar in WH/Bella, Edward, Jacob in E. Here is where it gets a bit trickier for me. Of course, Cathy and Isabella parallel each other, being the female leads. However, the men are a little more complicated. Heathcliff is wilder, more dangerous, free spirit - like Jacob. But Bella refers to Edward as her soul, her life, that she cannot live without him - which is a Heathcliff thing for Cathy. Edgar is more refined, and gives in to Cathy's whims - and that's what Edward does. Cathy does admit to loving Edgar, but she describes that love as being changing and like the trees in the changing seasons - very similar to how Bella describes the love she feels for Jacob. Her love for Heathcliff is perfmanent and fixed. She says she IS Heathcliff. He is to her, and this is another of my favorite lines, necessary. This is how Bella describes Edward.

Another parallel between the two books came to me while I was watching the movie version last night with my book club. Heathcliff leaves, just like Edward does in New Moon. In WH, Heathcliff leaves for selfish reasons. He has heard part of a conversation between Cathy and Nelly where Cathy says she is marrying Edgar, and it would degrade her to marry Heathcliff. He leaves before he can hear what she has to say next - that she IS Heathcliff, he is necessary, her love for him is fixed and permanent. His pride takes him away. Edward, by contrast, leaves out of fear. He thinks he is bad for Bella, and that his presence in her life puts her in danger. The result is the same for both women - they are pushed into relationship with the other man. Cathy marries Edgar, and Bella becomes involved with Jacob. When Heathcliff and Edward return, their ladies are thrilled to see them, their new men are LESS than pleased, and neither woman is able to make a clean break. For Bella, and in my opinion as I realize there are Team Jacob folks out there, she needed to break with Jacob and be with Edward. For Cathy, she needed to break with Heathcliff as she was married to Edgar. Both women wanted to have it both ways - and that doesn't work. In the Twilight Saga, though, Bella was eventually able to break from Jacob, while in WH, Cathy dies (as do Heathcliff and Edgar finally).

As I was reading WH, I found myself aggravated with Cathy in the same way I was aggravated with Bella in Eclipse. Edward was back, and Jacob was acting the fool (like Heathcliff when he insisted he was going to kiss her again - though I can't remember if that line was only in the movie, or if it was in the book, too). She should have put a stop to it, and ended the relationship with Jacob once she realized he wasn't willing to accept her feelings for Edward. Cathy should not have made herself available to Heathcliff once she realized he did not respect her marriage to Edgar. I felt it was selfish of Bella and Cathy to put both men (Edward and Edgar) through this. And I was upset with Heathcliff and Jacob for making it harder on Cathy and Bella than it needed to be. They were both too selfish and prideful to think of what was best for the women they supposedly loved. I don't believe Jacob had the ulterior motives of ruining everyone's lives, like Heathcliff did, but he certainly treated it like a "game" when he was dealing with the happiness and stability of the woman he professed to love.

I'm glad I read Wuthering Heights, both as a Twilight fan and as a reader interested in classic literature. I didn't necessarily enjoy the story, but I found it to be a compelling story nonetheless. And I can now understand why Edward is shocked that Bella keeps wanting to re-read it, and why he calls it a "hate story" instead of a "love story". I am very anxious to re-read Eclipse now that I have read this book! I'll be sure to post my thoughts after I have done so.


Lisa said...

That is so interesting! I don't see Jacob like you do at all. I see him as putting it all on the line for the woman he loves, fighting for his chance as long as there still is a chance. What kind of 'person" (and I use the term loosely, lol) would he be if he just said, Oh yeah, well she likes someone else, guess I'll leave now, especially when she gives him such mixed signals. That would be wimpy. No one wants a wimpy guy.

I remember not really liking WH when I read it all those years ago, and it's probably why I am not eager to re-read it. I'm not into the tragic love affair.

Sherry said...

Love how you wrote out all the parallels of the two books. I agree with your analysis. I did enjoy the story, but didn't like it. KWIM? I was so happy with the ending. I'm surprised that I didn't remember it ending that way from when I read it in high school.

Kate said...

I find myself disagreeing with your analysis of Eclipse/Wuthering Heights. Although there are references to Wuthering Heights within Eclipse, I don't think there are very many parallels outside of a few quotes and mentions of Bronte's novel. The relationships in Wuthering Heights have far more depth than those found in the Twilight series. The relationship between Bella/Edward/Jacob is a simplistic one, whereas the relationship between Heathcliff/Cathy/Edgar has many under layers. So, I don't think it's at all fair to try to label Edward as having a Heathcliff or an Edgar role, since he doesn't really fit either.
Comparing Edward to Heathcliff is an easy comparison superficially. (Both Edward and Heathcliff have their lady loves.) But in the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy both parties have equal power, whereas the power balance between Edward and Bella is quite skewed. (Edward having both physical and emotional power over Bella.)
I also disagree with the idea that Cathy should have dropped Heathcliff when he didn't 'respect her marriage to Edgar'. One of the main themes of Wuthering Heights is that of borders melting into one another and becoming indistinct. Cathy asserts that she can not be separated from Heathcliff because she *is* Heathcliff and Heathcliff himself says that if Cathy were to die so would he. Marriage is one of these borders/boundaries and it isn't 'respected' because it's needless within the constraints of the book. Heathcliff and Cathy simply are, whether they are married or not.

Elizabeth said...

Great analysis! I have to say, I read Wuthering Heights a few years ago before the Twilight saga had ever been written and I actually did not like the book at all. But after reading Eclipse I went back and read it again and I totally loved it! Although I think it had a lot to do that I imagined Cathy as Isabella and Heathcliff as Edward. Wuthering Heights is a very twisted, dark, and tragic romance whereas Eclipse is not very tragic and not nearly as dark as Wuthering Heights.

By the way, I love your blogs. The whole idea of what would be on Bella's bookshelf is really cool. I think an Edward's bookshelf should be made as well-just to imagine the kind of books he would read.

Elizabeth said...

Great analysis! I have to say, I read Wuthering Heights a few years ago before the Twilight saga had ever been written and I actually did not like the book at all. But after reading Eclipse I went back and read it again and I totally loved it! Although I think it had a lot to do that I imagined Cathy as Isabella and Heathcliff as Edward. Wuthering Heights is a very twisted, dark, and tragic romance whereas Eclipse is not very tragic and not nearly as dark as Wuthering Heights.

By the way, I love your blogs. The whole idea of what would be on Bella's bookshelf is really cool. I think an Edward's bookshelf should be made as well-just to imagine the kind of books he would read.

Juju said...

I (like Lisa) don't see Jacob like you do at all.

I think Jacob has something poor Edgar didn't.

They both love their woman.
One is willing to fight and the other is too weak to fight.

I applaud Jacob for knowing he is the best thing for Bella and giving it his all. Just as I wished Edgar had put an end to Catherine's relationship with a man who refused to respect their marriage.

I agree with you on one point: both women want it their way and it doesn't work that way.

However the same parralel draws a great difference. While Catherine is manipulative of Edgar and doesn't care if Edgar gets hurt. Bella dies a little inside each time she brings Jacob pain.

In the end Jacob knew he stood a chance until she married Edward. So he fought and I commended him for that.

Heathcliff never respected anything that stood between him and Catherine and that includes Catherine her self.

Juju said...

I am really really glad I read this book. It was really nice to understand what Bella and Edward kept drawing reference to.

Gamermom2004 said...

I haven't read Wuthering Heights yet (it's on reserve at the library) but about Jacob...

I think they real reason he is in love with Bella has to do with fate and imprinting. After reading all 4 Twilight books I feel more like Jacob was more or less in love/attracted to Bella's ovaries. That is why I feel he couldn't stay away.

I also think that IF Bella had chosen Jacob after the "big battle" in Eclipse he never would have been truly happy with Bella. They had such an argumentative, teasing relationship that was more family/sibling like than romantic.

Anyway, it was written as it was printed and left to us to interperate as we see fit.

Sarah said...

Did you miss the part where Wuthering Heights details a highly destructive relationship between two horrible people? That's another parallel right there.

KC said...

Kate, I have to disagree because you said that Cathy and Heathcliff are on balanced playing fields, which is completely false.
The whole reason they couldn't be together in the first place is because he was inferior. He was a Gypsy child and was mistaken for a servant.
To prove himself, HC makes lots of money, but new money is never as good as old money, so he will always bear the mark of being a Gypsy.

Seeker said...

There are obvious parallels between WH and E, further so in Breaking Dawn when Jacob is waiting outside the Cullen home while Bella, heavily pregnant, fights for her life surrounded by her family. However, the similarity ends there. While Twilight began with promise, by the time we get to Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer's creation is nothing but aggravating. WH is compelling. It evokes distrubing emotions and leave the reader shaken. Eclipse and Breaking Dawn are simply disastrous sequels to two fine creations and the protagonists rapidly deteriorate into annoying one dimensional characters. I found it absolute agony going through the last two books.

Ellie the Colou ♥ said...

Hi, I'm a Twilight Saga fan and I was so willing to read Wuthering Heights after reading Eclipse as you were. I had a great problem: the book is SUCH a hate story (just like Edward says) that I couldn't even find my want to finish it. I had to read the synopsis. Anyway, now I know how it ends I think I will be able to finish it.
Although I have a different view of Jacob, I find a lot of similar opinions. But the one that is bothering me the most is that Heathcliff and Edgar are so alike Jacob and Edward.. precisely. I don't see Edward like Heathcliff, or Jacob like Edgar in any way but how Bella divides her love for them. Just as you said, Edgar es the formal and educated one, and Heathcliff the wild and impulsive.

But I'd love to see Bella and Jake having a kid... little Lassie :D
Well, I enjoyed reading what you wrote a lot. I was needing an analysis from the two books, none of my friends have read both :( So, thank you! And forgive my English, I'm still learning XD

Heather said...

Actually I love WH and I believe if you think clearly about it Heathcliff left to become more appropriate in Cathy's eyes. He bettered himself so to speak so she would find him her equal status wise. He made quite a bit of money and was able to support her financially. Of course he used that power against all who kept them apart.

Miss Spiny said...

Okay well im the opposite to most of you guys. I only read Twilight beacuse someone told me Wuthering Heights was quoted several times. And i did enjoy reading it very much and am currently on my second round.

I am a huge fan of Wuthering Heights, i think its the greatest book of all time. Ive read it about thirteen times now and can quote many passages off by heart.

You guys have outlined the whole 'Heathcliff, Edward, Jacob and Edward thing so im not going there. Its very clear to me that Stephany Meyer drew a lot of inspiration from Wuthering Heights while wrighting Twilight. Im going to state the more shallow, obvious things.

For starters, The names Edward and Isabella are used in both novels. Also the name Emily is used in Twilight, Emily Bronte having wrote Wuthering Heights.

Now one other thing is that in both stories unrestrained, free, equal love can only be archived by the lovers after death.

Some might comnpare Bella to Catherine because they are the central objects of desire in the stories. But 'Isabella Swan' and 'Isabella Linton' have much more in common im my opinion. Both have a more settled character and the tendancy to shed tears over a trifle. Both fall in love with a man despite being warned against it, Bella by Edward himself, and Isabella by her brother 'Edward', and Catherine.

Heathcliff and Edward are both enitially attracted to there 'Isabellas' because of there BLOOD. Heathcliff is only interested in the fact that Isabella is a possible eir to Thrushcross Grange, and we know about Edwards lust for Bellas sweet blood.

That is all from me for now. And let me finish with my favorite quote from Wuthering Heights, part of which is quoted in Twilight.

"Catherine Earnshaw may you not rest as long as i am living! You said i killed you - haunt me then! The murdered DO haunt there murderers. I believe - I know that goast HAVE wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only DO not leave me in this abyss, where i cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I CANNOT live without my life! I CANNOT live without my soul!"

Anonymous said...

To Miss Spiny:
In Wuthering Heights, there is no 'Edward'; there is an 'Edgar'...

H2O Hexagon said...

It's Jacob that is like Heathcliff and Edward is like Edgar, and Bella makes the same FAIL as Catherine did. And she ends up just as undead.

Tori said...

I have to agree with Kate; I think the relationship between Twilight and Wuthering Heights is quite superficial. Wuthering Heights is about so much more than the love triangle between Cathy, Heathcliff, and Edgar Linton. Like several of its contemporaries, the novels are as much about social class restrictions, the abusive nature of patriarchal family structure, the effects of depression, and the relationship between events in childhood and events in adulthood as they are about forbidden romance. And these are only some of the central themes to the novel.

The new Twilight-inspired covers of Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, and Romeo and Juliet unfortunately purport that this is all the books are - romances. There is so much more depth to them than that, and it's unfortunate that they're being marketed as romantic Twilight clones. People who don't know what they're getting into probably won't be able to get through Wuthering Heights' decidedly non-romantic, depressing story.

Apologies on being so late to the party, by the way. And I'd like to applaud your creative blog idea!

Anonymous said...

This conversation is an interesting one, particularly for me, being a devotee of Wuthering Heights, and have been since I was a young girl. There are parallels to be drawn between the subject matter of Eclipse and Wuthering Heights but it is less simplistic. This is because both Edward and Jacob have experiences and personality traits attributed to Edgar Linton and Heathcliff. I think this was done deliberately as to not fall into the trap of re-writing a modern day Wuthering Heights. Jacob jumps out at me straight away as Heathcliff, wild, dark, reckless and passionate, even bordering on cruel sometimes. Ironically, in WH Heathcliff is described by Cathy as a "pitiless, selfish WOLFISH man" Bella even admits, as Cathy did, that she has a desperate need for Jacob, like the primal pull that Cathy had for Heathcliff. There is nothing of Edgar in Jacob at all.. he is not weak and does not shirk from goading Edward. Edward, on the other hand, has a hold on Bella too, he is like a drug to her, but it's infatuation that Bella has for Edward, opposed to the basic necessity she has for Jacob. But that infatuation eclipses the need. Edward is rich, a member of an affluent family, like Edgar, and as self effacing and unassuming as Bella is, even she can't help but feel in awe of Edward's charismatic lifestyle. However, Edward has a lot more substance to him than Edgar, else he would not be so desirable to Bella, and Bella does not come across as shallow as what Cathy appears to be in the beginning. However, this does not stop her from behaving selfishly at times, and she even compares herself to Cathy. Her crowning Cathy moment for me was in Breaking Dawn when she has been changed into a vampire and finds out that Jacob has imprinted with her baby daughter. Her treatment of Jacob is that of scorn and petulance, almost showing off in front of her newly acquired vampire coven. This draws parallels with Cathy's behaviour when she first returned from Thrushcross Grange after staying with the Lintons, and when her maid Ellen Dean noticed how she forgot her childhood playmate so quickly. I felt bitter towards Bella at this point and thought.. "yes.. you ARE Cathy" Even when Bella is expected to die and Edward is at her side like a doting Edgar , Bella's face lights up when she sees Jacob, as it did for Cathy in WH,when she saw Heathcliff. Jacob paces around, feeling helpless while he watches the love of his life slipping away before his eyes. I felt so let down by the end of Breaking Dawn... ok, so Jacob found his love in the form of Renesmee, but what about all the love he had once felt for Bella? I wanted him to run off into the trees as a wolf, his heart forever breaking for Bella. And Bella ??.... yes she got her man, her immortality and her child but where was her yearning for her wild wolf boy? It would have rendered the ending so much more thought provoking.

DignityIsTheKey said...

I really don't think WH is a hate story at all. It's just a story. A story where human impulses are much more powerful than what is supposed to rule the universe: love.

However, it's all done because of love. Edward and Jacob admit to love Bella, but I think both Jake and Edward are similar to Heathcliff. First, in New Moon, when Bella finds Edward in Volterra and he thinks he's dead, he's happy about it, thinking he's finally reuniting with Bella, just like Heathcliff knew he'd finally reunite with Cathy on WH. Jacob could be the dangerous part of Heathcliff, as it's mentioned in Eclipse that people were afraid of him, and Bella herself recognizes that there's a slight sinister air that darkened the warm Jacob she remembered.

We also have to consider that though the influence that WH had on SM's style is important and really noticeable, no character actually fits entirely on the description, having their own personality and, of course, their own personal influences just as Stephenie wrote them.

I think that The Twilight Saga introduces us to a different kind of mystery and suspense that makes us pursue more when reading WH, and allows us to enjoy a little bit more the story that Brontë's perspective provides us.

Jean Electric said...

I too decided to read Wuthering Heights because of the amount of time Edward and Bella talked about it. I’m glad I did read it as now I understand what Edward and Bella were on about and also Wuthering heights is a pretty good book.

Lottie said...

Well, personally, I don't like Twilight. I thought Stephenie Meyer tried to write a knock-off of W.H. Unsuccessfully, I might add. Wuthering Heights is NOT a love story. That was not Emily Bronte's intention. It is a gothic novel, and Cathy and Heathcliff's love is gothic. They're all messed up characters except for Edgar and Nelly, I suppose, and the messed up, crazy characters is really the only similarity between Twilight and W.H.