We’ve read a lot of great literature this semester, and I’m excited for all the wonderful works we’re going to read next semester too. I absolutely love literature and all the books and poems we read, as rough as some of them have been, simply speak to my soul. They are all so exquisite in their own lovely or morose ways.
Originally, I thought The Great Gatsby was going to be the most impactful book for me. It’s rather short, but it accomplishes so much within the extravagant imagery and raw emotions of its pages. Its social commentary is clear and effectual, but is also so elegantly enacted. I love this book y’all. The mysterious, dashing character of Gatsby and the romance, though superficial, of the lavish, tortured life he leads (I’ve never thought myself one for the cliché romance stories, but Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, dang), the quiet, anything-but-weak loyalty and kindness of Nick, and the heart-wrenching, irreparably relatable last lines, which have to be one of the best mic-drops in history, captivated every inch of my attention. The line of running faster, stretching out our arms farther… “And one fine morning–” literally made me gasp. You know those books that steal your heart: beat, blood, and all? The Great Gatsby is one of those.
But then I got to the final chapters of Wuthering Heights. I liked the book for the most part. Emily Bronte is an absolute genius. The story and its symbols are impossibly intricate and regal. But for all its elaborateness and Victorian beauty, I just thought Wuthering Heights was a merited book, required to pass the AP exam. Until I read the final chapters. The moment Heathcliff explains his torment to Nelly, the grand, untamed account he raggedly hands to her, was the first time I actually realized: he is human. I could not relate to Heathcliff until that moment. The image and correlating connections I had of him were anything but human, anything but a tortured creature I should pity. Not until his thoughts were his, his feelings revealed by him, and his motivations, or lack of, put forth by Heathcliff himself, did I see him as human. Those few pages of purely his point of view don’t admonish him. They don’t undo the wrongs he did, or the indignation he deserves for them. But they make him pitiable. They portray him as an afflicted human I have compassion for, rather than an unfeeling monster I resent. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a succinct 180-turn at the hands of a book like that. And I had to momentarily question every conclusion I’d drawn about the story up to that point. All because of point of view. Wuthering Heights made me realize the invaluable importance of point of view and the critical role it plays. That’s what truly good literature is supposed to do. If it doesn’t make you think really hard, if it doesn’t make you question something, if it doesn’t explore bigger truths, whether that be about the devastating effect of revenge in someone’s life or the crucial role of perspective in understanding each other, if it doesn’t do that, then why does it exist?