College Students! discussion

Past Discussions of Group Reads > Wuthering Heights--For Those Who Have Finished

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner), The Founding Bookworm (new)

Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) | 4407 comments Mod
Please use this thread to talk about the book as a whole after you have finished.

Some general starting questions:

Did you like or dislike the book? Did you like the ending? Favorite characters? Favorite quotes? Did you like the author's style? Were you confused by anything in the book? etc.

Feel free to post any discussion questions that are more specific to the book once you have finished. The moderators and discussion leader will try and facilitate the discussion but since everybody's reading schedule/life schedule are different, they may not be able to do so at the beginning of the month. So, any discussion questions are welcome! :)

message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) Hey everyone. I'm leading the discussion on this one. Never done this before, so bear with me :o)

Since this is for those of you who have finished, feel free to discuss away. And since it's just the beginning of the month, let's start with Jamie's basic questions from above:

Did you like the book? How come?
Any favorite characters?

More later! :o)

message 3: by Ashley (last edited Dec 01, 2010 12:54PM) (new)

Ashley Lauren (ashleyllauren) Hi Sarah! I'll get this started off... with some negativity! Ha! Bear with me because I read this a few months ago and it's already hazy - I think I may have blocked some of the experience. It was not a favorite for me.

This book certainly did not live up to my expectations. When I was reading I just felt like all the sexy things were glazed over. Romance? Briefly, there's about a page of true romance in the whole book - any other instance of love is either Heathcliff of Catherine /talking/ about being in love. I just didn't get thrilled by Bronte telling me that people are in love. I like to see it - and with the way the story was narrated (through Lockwood, though Ellen) it was all just getting muddled up in assumptions. I felt like even Heathcliff's animosity was watered down and, frankly, if the back of the book hadn't told me that he was doing all this to spite the family, I'm not sure I would have made the connection.

Overall, I think the premise of the book, and the writing, are great. However, the execution just made me feel so far away. If this wasn't such a well known classic, I doubt I would have finished the book at all. But I know so many people who love the story, so I'd love to hear people tell my /why/ they liked it!

message 4: by Jenna (new)

Jenna (jenna_marie58) Ashley-

I'm glad to know there's another person out there who didn't enjoy it. I had such high expectations for it because a lot of people who love Jane Eyre love Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. I read it in Feburary while I was studying abroad it France, and honestly, the only reason I made myself finish it was because I didn't bring much else to read. I hated almost all of the characters and I guess the whole "tortured romance" thing was too much for me.

message 5: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Lauren (ashleyllauren) Jenna wrote: "Ashley-

I'm glad to know there's another person out there who didn't enjoy it. I had such high expectations for it because a lot of people who love Jane Eyre love Wuthering Heights, and Jane ..."

I still need to read Jane Eyre - now I'm even more convinced that I'll like it ;-)

My problem is that I didn't feel like there was that much of a tortured romance - how much of the book were they even together? It seemed like never. I just felt so detached from the characters.

message 6: by Tami (new)

Tami | 3103 comments Mod
I too didn't care for it. I read it less than a year ago and can't hardly remember any of it. I too was expecting an epic romance story and the whole thing felt blah to me. I may have to reread or try to freshen up before I can post exacts.

message 7: by Caro (last edited Dec 02, 2010 06:05PM) (new)

Caro (wutheringreads) Looks like I'll be the first to say that I loved Wuthering Heights- even more, this is my all-time favorite book. It's hard to explain why, but I'll give it a try :)
This is not a romance story. I don't know why it was labeled as such, but if you approach the book expecting a romance you're doomed to be disappointed. WH is, to me, a tale of passion and revenge and human nature, all tangled up with a good amount of obsession.
I used to think I couldn't enjoy a book if I didn't like the characters. Boy, was I wrong. I hated Heathcliff and Catherine, just like pretty much everyone else who has read it. I also hated Linton and Joseph and Hindley. All of them made me so angry whenever they made an appearance.
Wuthering Heights made me realize what I'm looking for when I open a book: something that will make me feel. Whether it's love, sadness, compassion or even loathing, I need the characters to mean something to me. And these did, every single one of them.
Emily Brontë took me through a journey that I felt to be incredibly real and alive. It's fascinating to me how one action fuels a series of life-changing events, and how one man's hatred can cause so much pain. Like a snowball that gets bigger and bigger, taking everything down with it.
There is some romance in the book too. For me at least, the real love story of WH was the one of Cathy and Hareton. I rooted for them since their first encounter and was thrilled with the way they fell in love. They were my favorite characters too, along with Edgar and Nelly.
And I absolutely loved the way the story ended. There was peace and hope and it felt like a cycle was complete. Heathcliff and Catherine's lives were over, now it was time for Hareton and Cathy's to begin.

message 8: by Daisy (new)

Daisy | 686 comments I didn't care for this book either, I couldn't stand the characters and didn't feel any connection with them whatsoever. I read it when I was in high school and even though I don't remember all of it, I do remember only finishing it because it was a classic and I felt like I had to. I'd had really good experiences with classics reading Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, and was sadly disappointed with this one.
I was also hoping for some epic love story, with Catherine and Heathcliff truly loving one another and that it would be heartbreaking when they weren't together. Instead I felt, well, nothing.
I thought they were both incredibly selfish and spiteful people and the only reason for them to be together was so they wouldn't make other people miserable.

message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) I think I agree with the idea that this really isn't a romantic story, despite what it's kind of marketed as these days.

Does anyone have any ideas to what Emily was thinking, or was intending, when she wrote this? As far as we know, she didn't have any major romantic experiences in her own life.

message 10: by Kayla (last edited Dec 02, 2010 03:29PM) (new)

Kayla | 604 comments This is definitely a tale about obsession more than love. I didn't like it at all. It also starts out so slowly. I don't know why Bronte decided to have Lockwood and Ellen be the narrators. They were both very boring characters. The first two times I tried to read this book, I couldn't get past page 50. The third time, I had to read it for a literature class my first year of college and I really just ended up skimming it.

message 11: by sara frances (new)

sara frances (sara_frances) Book aside, I love this Masterpiece Classic version of the tale:

But that could be mostly because I want to have Tom Hardy's babies.

message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) saint frances wrote: "Book aside, I love this Masterpiece Classic version of the tale:

But that could be mostly because I want to have Tom Hardy's babies."

I LOVE that movie! I really like that they just kind of get rid of Lockwood's character. (Also, I heard that Tom Hardy and the girl that played Cathy are engaged! How sweet!)

message 13: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Lauren (ashleyllauren) Kayla wrote: "This is definitely a tale about obsession more than love. I didn't like it at all. It also starts out so slowly. I don't know why Bronte decided to have Lockwood and Ellen be the narrators. The..."

This was definitely my main complaint, Kayla! It felt so hodge podge and messy to make us wade through so many thoughts. I felt at times like I was watching Catherine and Heathcliff through binoculars.

message 14: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) I almost think that maybe Lockwood and Nelly were there to act as a buffer - maybe she was nervous about writing such a dark, obsessive story and was hiding behind their characters to avoid making it more intense via first person?

It's rare for a book with so few likable characters to be so popular, or considered a classic -
so any ideas on why this one has survived the ages? Or on why it has that "classic" status?

message 15: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Lauren (ashleyllauren) That's a good question, Sarah, and I agree maybe that was some of the purpose of the narrators. I also felt like she was trying to write something really "realistic" - you know, people with flaws, but she also wanted the writing of the book itself to be realistic. Maybe she was trying to figure out a way that a person could actually learn a story like this. Although hard to read, it is plausible.

I have to admit, the book is definitely unique. I think it's the books that startle us that survive for a long period of time. And, clearly, quite a few people love it and others hate it. That's almost enoug to keep something going too - I think high emotions, whether good or bad, can mark a classic.

message 16: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen I read this years ago, so I'm going to try to take part as well as I can. I remember I loved Lockwood, and he was in fact my favorite character. He was just so awkward and goofy.

As for its classic status, I think it has to do a lot with the reasons Carolina outlined in her post. I'd need to reread this in order to discuss it properly, but I don't think the fact that the characters are unlikable is a reason to dismiss it from the canon. It's kind of a nice change of pace to have such complex characters that you DON'T like.

message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) That's a really good point. Some of the most interesting and fun discussions come about because people either really love or really hate a book, it's characters included.

Though I'm a big fan of the book, one of the things I have a problem with is that the names were really confusing. Why do you think authors back in the day (and I say authors before I've noticed the same thing in Austen novels as well) re-used the same name in a book? Catherine, Linton, Hindley, Hareton... if they weren't reused, they at least all sounded very similar.

Does anyone think that the re-use of names has a special purpose, or were authors back then just being kind of lazy about naming their characters?

message 18: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Lauren (ashleyllauren) Sarah wrote: "Does anyone think that the re-use of names has a special purpose, or were authors back them just being kind of lazy about naming their characters?"

Hmmm, maybe they were just being true to life? I feel like names were passed down through the families a lot more often than they are now. Maybe it seemed almost strange to not name children after their parents, even if it made the story harder to follow.

message 19: by Caro (last edited Dec 22, 2010 07:42PM) (new)

Caro (wutheringreads) Sarah wrote: "Does anyone have any ideas to what Emily was thinking, or was intending, when she wrote this?"

Sarah- I don't know what Emily was intending (if she was intending something), but I think a big part of the book is based on experiences from her own life. It has been said that Heathcliff shares some of the same qualities her brother Branwell had. The story is set in the moors, where she lived her entire life. Nelly’s role might be slightly based on Tully, the woman who worked for her family and told her and her sisters stories. Besides, I think (I can be horribly wrong on this one, though) that the technique of telling the story through different layers was common in the nineteenth century (Frankenstein and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are other examples).

message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) Well, the month is almost over :o( I hope that some people are still reading and planning on hopping on over here within the next couple days, but if not it was still fun.

I just wanna say that I personally really love this book. I think it's the only book I've ever read in which I really, really dislike almost all of the characters, but still really enjoyed it. And even though he's kinda crazy, I love Heathcliff. I rooted for him the whole time, because I felt bad about how crappy the Earnshaw siblings treated him. And though it's dark and twisted, I do still feel the romance in the story - a sick, really unhealthy romance, but a powerful one all the same. When Heathcliff begs Cathy to haunt him... well if that's not a powerful / desperate love, I don't know what is!

Anyways, thanks for getting together to discuss this everyone!

message 21: by Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner), The Founding Bookworm (new)

Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) | 4407 comments Mod
Thanks for leading this, Sarah! You did a great job. I'm hoping to get to Wuthering Heights soon so I'll be back to this thread!

message 22: by Josephine (new)

Josephine (biblioseph) (auroralector) When I first started WH I didn't get much past Lockwood's introduction (I'd mostly forgotten his name), but then I heard that song that Kate Bush sang, the obsession song of crazy love? "Heathcliffe, it's me, your Cathy I've come home..."

It is a romance in the more traditional sense, I guess, from Wikipedia, "The movement validated strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and terror and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities, both new aesthetic categories." Heathcliff could be untamed nature.

There's also a theory that I've read into in rereading WH, that Cathy and Hathcliff were half siblings, and so their children, who got married we might assume, were cousins twice. What this says about the terrible kinds of love in these two relationships, since there are really two love stories in this novel, is that love can be terrible and go against nature, but be powerful and passionate and true. Bronte may have been railing against it, her moralistic critics might have said that about Edwin Bell, but maybe she was writing a fantastical story of forbidden love. Love forbidden in many ways which flowered in their children anyway.

I think it's fascinating if you look at it that way, especially if you agree with what you said, Sarah, about the narrators being buffers. In many stories (I forget, Turning of the Screw, maybe?) the narrator learns something from the story and applies it to their own life. Although there might not be a clear lesson from their love, but maybe the narrator is also a sort of guide in how we should be reacting? Letting her off the hook with her critics, who might see this story told more directly as her endorsement of such wild behavior. Also, it lends to the tragedy, the characters are, partly, still around, and continue to live their doomed lives. Atoning for the sins of the father? (Being unfaithful.) Hmm...

message 23: by Lindsay (last edited Jan 26, 2011 09:38PM) (new)

Lindsay (lindsayl) Laura, I loved reading what you had to say. WH is my all-time favorite book and it irks me that many expect it to be a Jane Austin-y romance (I love JA, don't get me wrong) when in reality, it is far from a dreamy love story. I had never thought of Emily's writing about forbidden love. Nowadays it is considered quite taboo to marry anyone who is already in some way connected to your family but in this case I feel since Heathcliffe was never treated as a son (except briefly for the remainder of Master Earnshaw's life) then he never really was her true sibling. But I still love what you said. I've seriously wondered at times why WH is considered such an epic love story but you just might have answered that for me: aren't the greatest loves always the ones that can never be?

I just read the book (again) a couple months ago but I almost want to do so again after reading everyone's comments.

message 24: by Josephine (last edited Jan 27, 2011 05:19PM) (new)

Josephine (biblioseph) (auroralector) I love Jane Austen Lindsay, she was awesome at capturing her characters. And she was an inspiration for the Bronte sister's. (Although, Evelina was an inspiration for Jane Austen, blech.)

I'll be reading Jane Eyre in my 18th 19th cen lit class in a few weeks, and I learned something about the novel I'd like to share with those of you still reading my crazy comments. :P

We're in the middle of Moll Flanders and while that is another proverbial can of worms, we're discussing whether this is the first 'novel'. (Tale of the Genji! While obviously not very globally influential is much older.) Anyway, despite that. It is possibly the first 'novel' known to the west. When the awesome introduction to my introduction says (Gotta love B&N editions, this essay was by Michael Seidel), to paraphrase:

When he (Defoe) considered writing prose, the literary market was after legitimate personal memoirs of travels, maritime adventures, social and religious experiences, accidents, storms, and plagues. Defoe wrote counterfeit, true-to-life memoirs for as much profit as he could receive.

Seidel goes on to say that Romances, Novels and Private Histories were not what we consider them today:

Moll Flanders is introduced as a private history, what we would call a memoir. Defoe is quick to say it is not a novel or a romance, a century before WH was published, readers found novels and romances to be the unlikeliest of adventures, usually set in past times or remote and idealized places. They were marked by improbability and a suspension of the normal laws of nature and behavior.

From what I learned about novels I'd like to venture a guess on why this is a romance, and why we have the silly Lockwood narrating. Perhaps it was found very 'fantastical' by it's audience which marketed it as a romance, and Lockwood was introduced as the narrator because he was literary. Much more likely than an obsessed, brooding man (shh, *parallels* to FD), an illiterate laborer, a flighty girl, a dead woman, a serving woman (maybe), and a sickly boy to write an account of a story he has heard. This might lend it that 'legitimate' feel that would sell it. Something any author wanted I'm sure. Even if publishing under another name.

back to top