This was a tale not of passion as much as obsession. Compared to other great classic romances this was no Pride and Prejudice
in my eyes. I may prefer the fact that the prose of Emily Brontë is more obviously passionate than that of Austen's but in terms of storyline, plot and characters Austen wins the battle easily for me.
It was difficult to really like this novel. It was well devised, well plotted and well written but the characters were incredibly unlikeable. The men were all either brutes, simpletons or first-class dandies and the women were either overly domineering manipulators or they tended to be cruel and spoiled. Only the narrator/s appeared to possess any decent qualities and since this was not a didactic narrative such as The Great Gatsby
I found it hard to enjoy a novel full of such selfish and spiteful characters.
Personally I cannot enjoy a tragedy unless in the beginning the characters were likeable to begin with. When a tragedy like this exists I personally as the reader find myself cheering at the end the fact that it finally finished and the characters got the unhappy ending they deserved. It may sound cruel or callous of me but remember these are fictional characters and when they're created to be more shallow than any human being I just don't care enough about them.
I once heard Heathcliff described as more smouldering and dashing than Mr Darcy. However the only thing I saw in Heathcliff was a devilish and beastly man who ultimately killed Cathy. How is he meant to be a romantic hero when he killed the woman he 'loved'? The tale to me reads more that Heathcliff killed the one woman he lusted after. At least Mr Darcy did everything out of noble reasons. Heathcliff possessed no such nobility in my mind.
I would even compare Cathy to Elizabeth Bennett. Elizabeth is a smart and self assured protagonist while Cathy must have been on the edge of insanity. She was capricious, conniving and vampiric. She was virtually dependent on the men around her to survive and she used them like a leech. I would have felt sorry for those men if Edgar wasn't such a baby and Heathcliff were not a devil.
Ultimately this wasn't a tale of passion and romance as much as a study of insanity and obsession. And as such it became difficult to enjoy watching the tragic shortcomings and failings of men and women possessed and cursed by their own failings. Although to be fair the story does end with a redemptive quality. But who's to say that that final relationship between Cathy and Hareton would survive?