Emily Bronte's classic novel "Wuthering Heights" is a tale of misfortune, anger, revenge, and despair.

Mr. Ernshaw owned Wuthering Heights - an estate on the moors of northern England. He returned from a trip to Liverpool with the young orphan Heathcliff, which disrupted life at home. Ernshaw's daughter Katherine befriended Heathcliff, so she and her father were able to protect the foundling from the cruelty of her brother Hindley, who was jealous of further sharing his father's affections. But things grew much worse after Ernshaw died. Hindley took over the estate and began making life miserable for Heathcliff. By this time, teenage Katherine and Heathcliff had fallen in love, but she could no longer protect him alone. Heathcliff felt utterly abandoned when Katherine became engaged to the wealthy, arrogant Edgar Linton. Disappointed and angry, Heathcliff escaped to earn his fortune; he returned years later, seeking revenge on those who wronged him.

Bronte's book resonates because of the characters she created. She published her novel in 1847, and the story takes place in the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it is relevant today. Many of us behave irrationally when confronted with overwhelming tragedy - sometimes hurting ourselves in our efforts to harm others.

"Wuthering Heights" is a complex story - a dysfunctional love story with significant character flaws among the major players. Heathcliff is the most tragic character. He is bitter about the abuse he suffered in his youth. As an adult, he responds by abusing all around him - not just those who caused him pain. He lost his soulmate twice - first to another man, then to death. In his bitter agony, he begs Katherine's ghost to shun Heaven and haunt him forever. The visions he sees may be her spirit or the delusions of a tormented mind.

If the book has a weakness, it is Bronte's use of a narrator within a narrator - a common practice in Gothic fiction. Heathcliff's tenant begins telling the story and then relates the history of the family tragedy as told to him by the housekeeper, Nellie. The tenant adds little to this story. A narration exclusively by Nelly would be more straightforward.

But this is a minor complaint overshadowed by an epic story that reveals the souls of a set of complex characters.