I adore good monster stories. Wuthering Heights is one of the best. When I lived in Ukraine, I spent a stormy, tragic couple of weeks gazing out over the snow-covered steppes of the East and reading Bram Stoker's Dracula. I became so absorbed in the drama and mystery of what happens when the British accidentally try to sell real estate to the undead that I didn't want to abandon that atmosphere even after I had finished Jonathan Harker's tale. Wuthering Heights, always beloved by me for its dark star-crossedness, was the obvious solution. Immediately as I started rereading the novel, however, I realized how similar Wuthering Heights is to Dracula, and that is how it became my favorite vampire story.
Initially, the structure of the two books inspired the comparison. A man, alone in a strange land, becomes trapped in the home of a sadistic and suspicious-looking host and writes a diary about the rumors of his host's history. Both journals seem deliciously tainted and unreliable, but somehow still able to uncover something resonant about the monstrosity of humans. Both demonic hosts are the victims of desire that cannot be quenched - desire that has grown murderous. Both hosts have female counterparts that are way more scary and evil than themselves. And (*spoiler*) both stories have suspiciously tidy endings that don't even come close to redeeming the ruination of most of the characters. So excellent! I am not arguing that Emily Bronte intended this story as a straightforward vampire tale. The essence, however, of any vampire story is an exploration of the need to live by the death of others. Bronte masterfully illustrates that as a fundamentally human flaw. In the ways that Heathcliff is more monstrous than Linton, he is also more human.
I'm not going to lie to you. What I really love about this book is not its narrative structure, deep message about the human condition, or window into 19th century life on the moors. I become absolutely weak-kneed at the moment in this story when Heathcliff overhears Catherine insulting him to Nelly and then takes off into the night. It is irony at its finest. I pretty much swoon when Heathcliff returns for the passionate moment before the birth of young Catherine. I am in love, for better or worse, with the doomed and unrealistic passion of Heathcliff and Catherine. I have loved this book for long enough that I think it's safe to say I will always feel that way.
I would probably not invite Catherine and Heathcliff to a quiet afternoon of poetry and wine tasting, but they would definitely get an e-vite from me to a rockin' New Years Eve. Those two and unsuspecting civilians - throw in some cheese and crackers and that's a party. I might e-vite Sarah Michelle Gellar, just in case things got out of hand, but I would definitely stick around to see what would happen next. A little sadistic hosting of my own. Bwahaha.
Usually, when I hear this story criticized, it is for how evil both Heathcliff and Catherine are. While I would never dispute that, it is exactly what I love about Wuthering Heights. They are monsters, but still somewhat sympathetic, and in some ways I want them to find satisfaction. Unquestionably, they deserve and even seek out all the torment they get, and though I don't wish that torment on them I am positively mesmerized by it. They are not merely silly and petty, like the lovers in so many books, they are villains. They are something more extreme than anti-heroes.