Probably not, depending upon how you define love.
Emily Bronte wrote under pseudonym as Ellis Bell to ensure privacy (but probably also because men were taken more seriously).
Despite many poems and stories, it was Wuthering Heights that was her crown jewel. Although I never found it easy reading, given its offbeat style, it resonated with the obsessive love of teenage years. For half a lifetime, I shared the widespread delusion that Wuthering Heights was a love story. Won over by the brooding Laurence Olivier performance in the film, I thought that the darkness permeating the entire novel related to passion/love. I remember having a great debate about it with a late friend.
However, I’m now thinking more along the lines of Paul Miller (2013) who felt depressed by the idea that Wuthering Heights was considered the Guardian readers’ favourite ‘love story’ of 2007, because love barely enters into it.
He claims, and I think he may have a point, that Wuthering Heights is not a love story at all. It is about addiction, revenge, and jealous rage, portraying no redeeming features for Heathcliff, the anti ‘hero’. There is no concern for the other, only the self.
Miller actually described Heathcliff as Gollum (now there’s an image, my precious): “consumed, enslaved and made a tyrant by his obsession“. It is a good description. He calls it “narcissistic eros” for there is a kind of mutually destructive self-love between Heathcliff and Cathy, which renders Heathcliff, especially, incapable of humanity.
Which is what brings me back to what I hated so intensely about it. Before reading it I had a general impression that it was a great story of forbidden love that many people looked to as a stirring tale of how to follow your heart lest we lose our soulmates. That radically misreads the book. Heathcliff does follow his heart, and that is exactly why he destroys himself and everyone around him. Heathcliff and Catherine’s love is not a pattern for us to emulate, but to avoid. This isn’t a story about denied love, but indulged addiction. Holding this book up as a model teaches a ruinously false notion of love, relationships, failure, and our responsibility to rise about our circumstances.
I hate this book’s reputation and the way this book is read and perceived by others. I can’t read this book as moving or inspiring or think that Catherine and Heathcliff were unjustly parted lovers, victims of fate or the world or an uncaring world. They are only victims of their own folly and poor decisions.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Parkinson (2013) writes, from a psychological perspective, of codependency and narcissism among the two leading characters. They feed off each other, wish to control, fear abandonment and are utterly dysfunctional. Heathcliff is dark and cruel, a misogynist. And here is just a taste of it.
As Cathy stresses, there is no pleasure in her relationship with Heathcliff. That obsession is not love, it is extreme, pathological.
As Cathy says: My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.
There is no joy in it.