One of my favorite all-time novels is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It’s the book that got me really interested in Victorian language and etiquette, which is why for an English assignment, I decided to write a letter from Edgar Linton to his sister Isabella immediately after she elopes with Heathcliff.
I shall make no effort to conceal from you my consternation at your marriage. I’ve made it no secret how distatestfully I regard your wretched husband – nay, his entire household. You could not have anticipated, nor can you now envision, the paroxysm of anguish and suffering I have suffered at your hands. That the undercurrent of your affection for that man ran so deep I had no idea: no, I fancied your infatuation brief as candle flame, fated to be extinguished sooner rather than later. However, it appears now that my worst fears have been realized and you are, permanently, stationed at Wuthering Heights with naught for company but that devil Heathcliff.
But what possessed you to do it, Isabella? Did he not cast insults upon your character in our library, hang your pup to the fence simply to spite you? Pray, have you forgotten even his black temper as a child? Dark and furious as he is by nature, surely you mustn’t have expected to be treated as a fair lady. I presume his strange friendship with Cathy may have befuddled your own emotions, though I did not expect an offering of love so blind and hasty from a sister of mine.
I certainly do hope that you have come to realize and regret your erroneous conduct. Your love for me was too feeble to ground your impassioned fantasies, but alas, sister, did you fail to remember Mother and Father? What would they have said, wonder, at this vile reunion of gentry and heathen, at your disheartening decision to wed far beneath your stature? You fear not the consequences of a union with Heathcliff, but I had hoped you would hesitate at least, for fear of offending our parents. It is clear now that you hold no one’s feelings as highly as your own, and I admonish your selfish behaviour.
For this reason, I simply cannot bring myself to reconcile with you: in time, I may come to forgive you for the blow you’ve struck to my heart and the hearts of our late parents, but now, there is no alternative but to accept your new duty as the lady of Wuthering Heights. However, I beseech you, sister, do not spoil in self pity. You’ve committed a grave folly, indeed you have, and while it is only right that you repent, it is not my intention to wish sorrow upon you. I only wish that you had forewarned me of your affections, for I could’ve prevented you from leaving our home in deep shame and disgrace. It is now past midnight, so I must end my letter here— however, as my last wish of you, I entreat you to satisfy yourself with life as you find it now, and try your utmost to avoid comparing the comforts of the past to your desolate future. For your health and mine, I implore you to refrain from continuing our correspondence until such time that my sentiment toward your new family is somewhat softened.