Wuthering Heights is a weird name which still enjoys enormous brand recognition. Youngsters might not know what it relates to, but they’ve heard of it, and probably feel drawn to the enigmatic, ominous-sounding destination, just as so many others have been since author Emily Brontë’s revered novel was first published in 1847.
The new movie version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ retells the enduring tale of “professed love plagued by affliction”
Testimony to the enduring potency of Brontë’s book is yet another movie version of it released this month. The latest Wuthering Heights focuses upon the central, obsessive relationship between legendary literary creations Heathcliff and Cathy. While Scottish director Andrea Arnold employs gritty arthouse techniques to tell the enduring tale in its traditional setting, the dark and tempestuous core of Bronte’s unsettling classic remains prominent.
Last year, Emily’s sibling Charlotte also had her own celebrated novel released again in a new film. Jane Eyre isn’t as charged and disturbing as Wuthering Heights, but both Brontë sisters penned resounding stories of professed love plagued by social and personal affliction.
Most of us want love. Most of us want love that lasts. Most of us want love that lasts and isn’t corroded by bitterness, envy, revenge or sorrow. Why, then, do we gravitate to stories of ill-fated couplings? Why swoon, sigh or shriek in absorption at the fictional woes of turbulent pairs such as ruffian Heathcliff and torn Cathy?
At more weddings than you can recount, excerpts from 1 Corinthians 13 have been read with conviction. From verse 4 – “Love is patient, love is kind” – to the big finale in verse 13 – “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”. This chapter from the Bible summarises what so many of us apparently believe love should be.
Yet the impatient, unkind “love” which brings much misery to Heathcliff and Cathy lives on as a spectator sport. Admit it: you love captivating yarns about doomed love. Seemingly, we’re happy with the intense drama and prolonged pain of fractured relationships. Provided we’re not actually in them.
Perhaps we gravitate to attacks on the heart because they tacitly admit what we’re thinking. As desirable as 1 Corinthians 13 is, who has ever experienced such love? Love, like the apostle Paul outlines in his letter to the wayward Corinthian church, is so perfect, even the most perfect matches we experience are poor imitations.
In graphic contrast to Wuthering Heights, and us, the Bible is a true love story. God’s extreme love for his people surges throughout the Bible, crowned by the greatest act ever of selfless devotion. What such “love consists” of is powerfully explained by 1 John 4:10 – “Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
The only words spoken in the trailer for Wuthering Heights are: “You broke my heart. You killed me.” That’s not true love.
True love is how God, heartbroken at humanity’s rejection of his affection, still sent his obedient son Jesus to take the punishment for our sinful disobedience.
We’re only restored to God’s love because Jesus loved us so much that he sacrificed his perfect self. True love is real and available to everyone.
Have you embraced it?