Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one and straight out tell you that Wuthering Heights didn’t sit right with me at all. And despite reading rave reviews about this book, I’d much rather stick with Charlotte Bronte when it comes to reading Classic Novels.
There wasn’t a single thing about Wuthering Heights that made me go “oohhhh” or “aahh”, just more like “WTH am I reading??”
I understand completely that this novel is a masterpiece in the eyes of many scholars of literature, but I am not of that party. I never claim to be. I read Classics just for the sake of pleasure and interest in the works of authors from previous centuries.
While many have imparted wisdom, reflection on the human mind, and spectacular prose, Wuthering Heights just didn’t any of that for me. You see, Wuthering Heights is a story of revenge, cruelty, and sadism.
It isn’t about loyalty, romance, friendship or any of that stuff. There are bits and pieces of those themes reflected. But for the most part it is just cruelty inflicted by one person to the other, going in a cycle till it is broken.
And quite frankly I was relieved when it came to an end, just when the book did as well.
So what is the story about that has me so worked up and agitated, you ask?
Well let me enlighten you.
The story begins when a Mr. Lockwood takes up residence in the country side at a place called Thurshcross Grange in Yorkshire. He meets up with his landlord who comes off as the complete opposite of friendly and warm. The landlord is a Mr. Heathcliff, and he lives at Wuthering Heights which is located by the moors – which actually add a gothic and moody feel to the story.
“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind
There ,Lockwood finds the people of the house to share the same cold and unwelcoming energy of the owner including a young girl called Cathy (who is the widow of Heathcliff’s son), Hareton (an orphan and the son of the previous owner of Wuthering Heights), and Joseph(a servant who hates everyone and everything).
“I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.”
Having been intrigued by them and their crass ways he returns to Thrushcross Grange and asks the housekeeper Nelly to tell him about their history.
Thus begins the story through Nelly’s perspective of how Heathcliff was brought to Wuthering Heights as a young boy by Mr. Earnshaw. As Nelly was quite young at that time, she has literally seen the family through all turmoils and becomes this reliable witness through which Lockwood finds out their history.
“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.”
She narrates the story of how Heathcliff was badly treated by Earnshaw’s son Hindley and his friendship with his daughter Catherine, and later on how they became inseparable. However, once their father died, Hindley made sure that Heathcliff was treated worse than a servant and cut off his education as well. As Wuthering Heights moves on we found how Catherine marries well to support Heathcliff even though she doesn’t think he is worthy of marriage.
“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”
This enrages Heathcliff and leaves only to return 3 years later, wealthier and with a plan of vengeance. Thus the tables are turned and Heathcliff not only takes over Wuthering Heights but also Thrushcross Grange which is where Catherine lives with her husband(Edward Linton) and sister in law (who ends up marrying Heathcliff).
“It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.”
And there is more drama and more revenge, and Catherine ends up dying while giving birth to a girl. His wife runs away and gives birth to a son. This way Wuthering Heights moves onto the next generation and shows how Heathcliff didn’t even have mercy on the children. In a way, Wuthering Heights shows how one person’s cruelty can have a ripple effect which doesn’t end even with their death, and becomes cyclic as it moves on and on.
“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”
Throughout the novel I couldn’t help notice how Heathcliff and Catherine were just a toxic couple, who couldn’t live without each other but also wanted to tear the other person’s head off at the same time. I don’t understand how they are romanticized and how this is love worthy of being swooned by. They are passionate for sure, but it is absolutely toxic sort of passion which only God can save you from.
“Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.
The only character that had my sympathies was Nelly. Poor woman literally saw the rise and fall of the Earnshaws and then the Lintons. And the way she tried to salvage the families was admirable but when you’re a maid servant in the 19th century, you don’t have much say even if you’re the only sane and logical person in the entire house.
All in all Wuthering Heights withered me slowly, and it isn’t a story I would ever want to read again. I hate to be this critical and I’ve been trying to search reviews by proper critics on why it is a masterpiece but I just can’t buy it! This is just one Classic that didn’t work for me like The Professor by Charlotte Bronte and Dracula by Bram Stoker.
I’d say don’t waste your time reading it and just trust me on it. But if you do and you feel different please share why because I would love to have my mind changed on it.
Even if it seems HIGHLY UNLIKELY.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 2.0/5.0
- Favourite Quote: “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
- Should you read it: I think you’re better off reading Jane Eyre or Villette.
- Reader level: classics are generally hard to read but if you’ve been reading them for a while then this won’t be difficult. However, Joseph’s dialogues were unreadable because they were written in a Yorkshire dialect and I had to look up some help for that.
- Would I read it again: absolutely not.
Till next time,