SarahC's Reviews > Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
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's review
Jan 09, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: challenge2012

I have spent some fascinating hours reading Wuthering Heights these past few weeks. It has been a more thorough read than in my earlier days when I think honestly I was more eager to get on with reading Jane Eyre, sister Charlotte’s novel. It may be one of the most studied works of literature and I see why because commenting on it here has not been easy. It is a book so easy to love but hard to completely understand. It is a blunt, deep examination of humans, written in the 1840s when that sort of thing was not plentiful. The writing is beautiful - Emily Bronte may have written in a “private language” - I believed Charlotte Bronte stated -- but she had full command of that language and is able to bring the reader in to this page-turning world.

The characters are isolated, wicked, puzzling, conflicted, and revengeful. This is an undying love story, but more impressive to me is there is a sense of honesty and realism -- almost politics-- between Heathcliff and the elder Catherine. This doesn’t sound very romantic, but it clinched the story to me more than the strong emotional scenes of Heathcliff. This realism is present as Catherine confesses to Nelly why she will marry Edgar and in the confrontational discussion between Catherine and Heathcliff at Thrushcross Grange. I agree that Emily Bronte was a visionary in transitioning fiction writing toward realism.

The famous character Heathcliff is enigmatic. We will never know his origin and we are largely told his story through narrators. The narrator describes the revenge he attempts to carry out on the small collection of people he is adopted into, but we also see how these people contribute to the cruelty and madness that become his life. He is a violent, ruthless, frightening man, but carries on rational conversation with his only semi-ally, life-long member/servant of the household, Ellen Dean.

The rest of the family in the story become a part of perpetuated pain and anger and also loss common of the times. Through illness, the young children Hareton, Cathy, and Linton lose their mothers, causing them to become further victims of the wrongdoings and dysfunction of the joined families in the story. Thus Heathcliff lives to see some of his revenge but not his satisfaction on the outcome of this next generation of the family. Heathcliff’s own heart and strong hints of the supernatural take over to bring this unsentimental romantic story to a close.

Throughout the book we only ever see clues rather than facts of the story through Nelly (Ellen) as a narrator and Lockwood who records her narration and details his own detached part in the happenings. So we are left with more that we want to know and that we only will know through our own interpretation and imaginings

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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Is this a first-read for you? Or just a first-read since GR?

SarahC First read since Good Reads, but the previous was so long ago that I am enjoying as much as a first read. Have you read it recently?

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

My last review is two years ago. I'm surprised I haven't read it since.

SarahC It is a fascinating book and certainly has a mystique about it. I don't know what took me so long to reread it. I think I just got interested in other writers of that era and wanted to read ones I hadn't read before. Victorians group is reading three Bronte novels in the next two months, check it out if you have time.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I re-read Jane Eyre when the movie came out. Wuthering Heights certainly generates the most debate -- many people just plain hate the book! I'll see which books Victorians are reading. I'd like to read more Bronte. Right now I am working my way through The Count of Monte Cristo

SarahC Enjoy Monte Cristo -- I loved it several years ago, but haven't reread it yet either.

WH, (in my adult years haha)almost reminds me of political relationships. In spite of what real feelings underly, it seems like very political moves get pushed to the top -- and pride and survival, you might say. A harsh world of those Lintons and Earnshaws! It is not a feel-good read exactly....

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

No, it's not a feel-good read. But, when I first read it at 14, I thought it was full of "romantic" passion. As an adult (mature adult -- lol) I see that the passions are not so romantic. It's a fascinating story, ending in a train wreck fueled by lots of very human emotions/passions.

I looked on Victorians. Which other Bronte books will the group be reading? I couldn't see them after my brief scan of the threads.

SarahC Sorry, I don't know that the upcoming reads are posted clearly yet on the board. We will do a simulaneous read of Villette by Charlotte, Wuth. Heights by Emily, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne. We are trying to do comparative reads so that we really take a look at various novels side by side. Members also have the choice to only read one if they like and still do a typical discussion. It all kicks off officially on Jan 15, even though there is a folder to begin overall thoughts like "what attracts us to the novels of the Brontes."

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I saw the Wuthering Heights folders, but couldn't find the other two. I did see the Dickens' reads. I'd like to read Villette, but the Count comes first, as well as Code of the Woosters. I am definitely not accustomed to reading more than one book at a time, but goodreads is changing that. I haven't decided if I like it or not. ;)

Maybe I'll peek into Villette later.

SarahC Oh, and yes, WH does seem to be more about the train wreck of life, rather than romantic passion, when you start looking at the layers. And just an interesting point I read yesterday, that these "lady" writers of the 19th cent. understood so much about inheritance and the law and wrote it so well within these stormy novels -- Jane Austen included -- because that is part of what makes them seem realistic. For this class of people, their land and ancient rights were like their right arm to them. Although Emily seems to be a different flavor on that too in WH. These families seem in decay regardless of people trying to swipe land from them.

SarahC I am onto Bertie Wooster too. I know, multiple reads at one time just aren't always possible. Even Bertie Wooster needs full attention sometimes for me to enjoy his total wit! As Jeeves, would say, "I see the difficulty madame." haha

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)


message 13: by Diane (last edited Jan 09, 2012 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane I am a big fan of WH. It is my favorite love story, although so tragic and so dark. SarahC message #6, no certainly not a feel-good read :)
I've also seen many versions of the movie, but my favorite remains the classic B&W with Sir Laurence Olivier. I wish I could get my hands on it to own it. When I last read the book, I went online and printed out a family tree. It was so handy with all the Katherine's, Kathys, etc...and it helped me get even more out of the story.
My copy of the book is a small, green book with yellowed pages. Perfect!

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I still have my paperback from 1970, when I was 14. I have seen two adaptations, but don't have a favorite, yet.

message 15: by Nina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nina Great review, Sarah! WH is one of the most fascinating stories I have ever read, and the only one I have read twice in two weeks. The day I finished it, I started the book over and read Ch. 1, then 2, 3, etc. I ended up reading the whole thing over again right away and memorising large chunks of it. So yeah, definitely hooked:)
Diane: I love the Laurence Olivier version too, though it literally only tells half the story:)

SarahC Nina, it is a hard story to stop thinking about too. While I read other things, it hops back into my mind. Something I will think about for a long time I.

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