Whitaker's Reviews > Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
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May 22, 12

bookshelves: canon, united-kingdom, e-book, 2012-read, recommended-unreservedly, get-hardback
Read from April 18 to May 17, 2012

My goodness, but doesn’t Emily Brontë get to have her cake and eat it too. On the one hand, the story is underpinned by deeply bourgeois morals; on the other hand, she gets to flirt with wildness and nature. It’s like going on a luxury safari: you get to pretend you’re out in the wild but it’s wilderness with a champagne breakfast and air-conditioned tents.

Here you have Heathcliff, right, the stand-in for the forces of nature. And this is nature “red in tooth and claw”, Hearne the Huntsman, the faery changeling that usurps the place of the son. Like all good faeries, Heathcliff upends the natural order: good is made bad, the low are made high, love is made indistinguishable from hate. He ousts the gentry out of their hearth and home and becomes lord of the manor, and the world is turned topsy-turvy.

But in the end, he is defeated. The changeling is ejected, and the land reverts back to the gentry again as both the Grange and Wuthering Heights revert to the care and custody of the Lintons and the Earnshaws. The unity of Catherine and Hindley, the bond of brother and sister that was broken with Heathcliff’s arrival, is restored with the marriage of Hareton Earnshaw and Catherine Linton. Chaos and disorder are cast out, and the rightful order of nature is restored.

And how huge a role blood plays in this. You can’t escape your natural destiny: A gentleman will always be a gentleman regardless of how much you try to corrupt him, while the scion of a nameless urchin will be low and nasty regardless of how much gilt he is covered with. You could read the entire Shakespearean canon into this. It's Macbeth, King Lear, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream all rolled into one.

And yet, oh, the language! That deep love, and also terror, of the wild harsh beauty of the moors that sings out in her prose despite her eventual return to civilisation! The whole story trembles on this pivot between longing and repulsion. And right to the final word, she never quite resolves it: the ambiguity thrums to the very last. Wow!

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Reading Progress

04/27/2012 "My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary."
05/01/2012 "I felt that God had forsaken the stray sheep there to its own wicked wanderings, and an evil beast prowled between it and the fold, waiting his time to spring and destroy."
05/09/2012 "He told me of Catherine's illness, and accused my brother of causing it promising that I should be Edgar's proxy in suffering, till he could get hold of him.

Why is Heathcliff considered a romantic hero? He's just a vicious thug. Today, he'd just be a football hooligan beating up his girlfriend, swilling beer until he upchucked, and rioting in the streets. What, oh what, is so romantic about that???" 3 comments
05/15/2012 "I explained how he objected to the whole household at the Heights, and how sorry he would be to find she had been there;"
05/15/2012 "I explained how he objected to the whole household at the Heights, and how sorry he would be to find she had been there;"
05/16/2012 "I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly lord of their estates; my child hiring their children to till their fathers' lands for wages."
05/16/2012 "But there's this difference; one is gold put to the use of paving stones, and the other is tin polished to ape a service of silver. Mine has nothing valuable about it; yet I shall have the merit of making it go as far as cuh poor stuff can go. His had first-rate qualities, and they are lost: rendered worse than unavailing."
05/16/2012 "'You're right there!' I said; 'explain your son's character. Show his resemblance to yourself: and then, I hope, Miss Cathy will think twice before she takes the cockatrice!'"
05/16/2012 "'I know he has a bad nature,' said Catherine: 'he's your son... Mr. Heathcliff you have nobody to love you ... You are miserable, are you not? Lonely, like the devil, and envious like him?...'"

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Carol Bad boy image,I would imagine. I always thought Heathcliff and Cathy were both sick in the head. Not so much a romantic novel more of a physcological study in how much torment youncould survicpe and remain human. Thinking more about Hareton and the other's and the effect of Cathy and Heathcliff's passion above all else.


Carol Sorry for the misspellings , I am working on a tablet and can't go back to check , until I post.


Whitaker Carol wrote: "I always thought Heathcliff and Cathy were both sick in the head."

Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. I've reached the point where Cathy is dying and quite frankly all I was thinking was, My god, you are a selfish little bitch.


Carol You hit the nail on the head. In their passion they had no room for living. They make nice ghosts don't you think?. Equally spooky and distraught. Forever roaming the moors calling out to each other. Serves them right for being such shitheads in life.


message 5: by Jane (new)

Jane Yes!! He is a vicious thug!! So glad someone else thought it.


message 6: by Jane (new)

Jane Now I want to re-read it :(


Carol Can't say too much Whitaker has not finished the book. I am expecting a stellar review, he always gives such interesting ones.


Whitaker Gee thanks, Carol. :-)


Carol It is true and you are welcome.


Manny Bravo! And now you should review Eclipse while you still have Brontë fresh in your memory. Or, quite possibly, you shouldn't :)


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Ugh. Even I'm keeping away from Eclipse.

The prose in this book is so fantastic though - you are so right.


Jeannette I could never have put it so well, but this is exactly what Wuthering Heights is all about. Excellent review!


Carol I knew you would come through, wonderful review.


Whitaker Carol wrote: "I knew you would come through, wonderful review."

Glad you enjoyed it! :-)

I was most definitely inspired by your encouragement. Hope all is good with you and yours.


Carol Whitaker wrote: "Carol wrote: "I knew you would come through, wonderful review."

Glad you enjoyed it! :-)

I was most definitely inspired by your encouragement. Hope all is good with you and yours."


Very good, thank you for asking. Hope all is well with you. We need to catch up with a goodreads message.


message 16: by Traveller (last edited Dec 19, 2012 06:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Traveller Oh man! Wonderful review! Thank you so much for befriending me, Whitaker! Just for this review alone it's already worth it ...

I too love the wildness and loneliness in this, and the struggle...
It's a haunting novel and i've always loved it, from the first time i read it long ago.

I enjoyed your analysis greatly.


Whitaker Thanks, Traveller. It is a wonderful book.


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