Upon finishing Emily Bronte’s novel, Wuthering Heights, I sighed a sweet breath of relief, and planned on finally falling asleep, due to the time being around 1:00 in the morning. However, as I laid there, I couldn’t help but have the book be on my mind, pestering me like Catherine’s ghost (it’s a joke you won’t get if you haven’t read it). The story may have droned on at points and confused me at others, but in retrospect, I can say that I enjoyed Wuthering Heights. This statement even surprised me, as I found myself often saying, “Oh God please let me get through this alive,” at the beginning of the book. Yes, this novel is not for the faint of heart, but do keep in mind that it was written in 1847. Furthermore, I do think that it is a great read for analysis and an AP class, because it is filled with “the good stuff” which I will explain soon enough. So without further ado, here is my review of Wuthering Heights.
WARNING: There may be spoilers.
Wait, Who’s Talking Again?
So one of the main issues I have with Wuthering Heights is the switching of narration between characters, usually without discretion. The only indicator of another speaker being the addition of quotation marks, but those only occur if a story is being told in the story being told…….in the story being told. See what I mean? The book is told from Lockwood’s perspective (more on him later) in the very beginning, as we are introduced to some of the vital characters of the story. However, the narration switches from Lockwood to Ellen Dean, or Nelly, as our previous narrator inquires into the happenings of Wuthering Heights in the past. Mainly, he is interested in Catherine Earnshaw, an important character to the plot. So now as Nelly talks about the story of the past, you become accustomed to her narration, until you are ripped from that sanctity and it is switched to Lockwood for no reason and you have no clue who the heck is talking. There is also the issue of Ellen retelling long conversations she had with Catherine or Isabella Linton, another past character. The only thing indicating the switch between either of the aforementioned characters and Ellen is an extra set of questions that may be easy to miss, indicating that whatever they said is being retold in Ellen’s words. And you know what really grinds my gears? How Ellen Dean is able to recall every single word that every other person she has ever known in like a 50 year span has said. Nelly you are not human.
It’s In Your Nature.
There’s something about symbolism in books that really makes me a happy reader, and trust me, Wuthering Heights is full of it. This comes in many forms throughout the book, ranging from windows to ghosts, but none make me as happy a camper as the use of nature throughout the book. Maybe it’s the inner child of mine, desiring the tales that began on a dark and spooky night, when something bad would happen. The novel delivers this appeal exquisitely, as when something bad is happening, the weather is there to compliment it and vice-a-versa. I mean, it’s in the title of the book…almost. Wuther, weather; they’re basically the same thing, right? Also, I really enjoyed the incorporation of the English Moors throughout the novel. The moors are like rolling hills (see the picture below) with their highs and lows and grassy, foreboding terrain even containing rocks and crags. These perfectly symbolize the love of Heathcliff and Catherine, as throughout half of the book their love is rocky and rough and does not end well. However, the moors also appear to go on forever, as the book takes place in the environment of the English countryside. To me, this demostartes a sense of eternity, as though they’re love was rough in life, it shall be eternal in their deaths. As they fell in love in the environment of the moors, I believe it’s only fitting that their romance be similar.
Romance? More Like No-Mance.
Let me tell you, if you’re looking for your stereotypical romance book, prepare to be sorely disappointed. You’ll be disappointed because you’ve wasted your time looking for your boring cheesy love books when, in fact, you’ll now want to read more tragic love stories like this one. Heathcliff and Catherine both “loved” each other, but they did not actually love each other. Love is supposed to be an unconditional thing, but their love, well, it had some conditions. Catherine did not want to marry Heathcliff because he was poor and treated badly, due to their brother Hindley making Heathcliff a worker. So Cathy decided to go and marry the pretty boy next door at Thrushcross Grange, Edgar Linton, because he was rich, and she thought she would help Heathcliff this way. Being the romantic he is, Heathcliff, disappeared for a number of years, and came back with a bunch of money and a much more manlier physique. “Oh, how wonderful!” you may be saying to yourself, “He’s going to win her back!” No, you are dead wrong. Heathcliff, in his plan for REVENGE, decided to be a jerk to everyone, starting with the girl he loves, Catherine. So Heathy, in his scheme thought, “Hey, I’m going to marry this other girl. That way I’ll have more power over both houses, and Catherine will totally love me.” Yes, Heathcliff, that is how love works. So after marrying Isabella Linton, he treats her like dirt, until she leaves. Then he bugs Catherine’s relationship until she becomes ill and she wants to starve herself. THEN, when she’s about to die, he sneaks into her room and has a weird kissing session with here, when suddenly, we find out she’s pregnant. So Catherine dies, gives birth to another child named Catherine, and Heathcliff becomes an even bigger jerk. This is not love! This is more infatuation than anything! I honestly don’t believe that by digging up your lover’s coffin, making room for your own body so you can have weird undead cuddles, while her husband’s body (who also died later) is still there, that love is really presnt in your relationship. That’s basically necrophilia, Heathcliff. However, if you really want a sense of true love, wait until the end of the book. That scene was truly a breathe of fresh air. No spoilers though!
Incest Unfortunately is Win-cest.
It wasn’t until after I read the book that I learned of the incest, and boy do I wish I didn’t. This portion of my review is going to be short and sweet, as there’s not a lot to say about this. I get that in the time period this was socially acceptable, but it still creeps me out, okay? There are spoilers imminent, so if you want none, skip ahead to the next point. But honestly, why do you marry both of your cousins Cathy? Sorry that your choice for partners is limited, but you could have gone to town or something, couldn’t you have? It may have made for a good ending, and finally a relationship we readers could celebrate about, but if you ever have children, I’m sorry if they have a birth defect. Just saying, Cathy.
Shut Up Joseph. Nobody Cares.
Okay. This is my last point. In all honesty I can say that I hate Joseph. Not even the other characters in the book liked him! I hate his character, I hate his motives, and I DESPISE the way he talks. Literally, whenever Joseph talked in the book, I would skip over it, because it made no sense and it was not critical to the story what-so-ever. It must have hurt Emily Bronte’s brain trying to write out words for the character to say! Now, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to explain. Reading Joseph’s dialogue in the book was like trying to solve the Da Vinci Code. It was excruciatingly painful. Basically, it was the most garbled of garbled English I have ever seen. Here is an excerpt for you to strain your eyes over:
‘”T’ maister nobbut just buried, and Sabbath not o’ered, und t’ sound o’ t’ gospel still i’ yer lugs, and ye darr be laiking! Shame on ye! sit ye down, ill childer! there’s good books eneugh if ye’ll read ’em: sit ye down, and think o’ yer sowls!”
Yeah, that hurt, didn’t it. The amount of red underling in my Word document is absurd. And I don’t know why, but I always read his lines (when i do try to read them) in a southern hillbilly accent. It seems to help me cope; go ahead and try reading the quote again in the accent.
I believe I found the perfect video to sum up Joseph’s speech here. I apologize ahead of time.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend this book to strong readers who enjoy romantics and a good story propelled by the characters in it. Indeed, the characters themselves may be the best part of the story, as each is driven by their own motives, as their own quirks, and are so different from each other. I highly recommend this novel for any essay writer in need of a book that could work fairly well with a multitude of prompts. Overall, I would give this book a score of 8/10, only deducting points on the small critiques and personal annoyances I found throughout. The amazing story, engaging plot, and abundance of symbolism really making Wuthering Heights a masterpiece.
Also, I find it very ironic how I’m critiquing the work of a deceased author the day before she died, 168 years ago on December 19, 1848. I kind of feel bad now…
Unknown. “Wuthering Heights.” Image. wordpress May 30, 2013. Dec. 18, 2016. <https://masteryourstudies.wordpress.com/tag/wuthering-height/>
Unknown. “Distant Approach to Top Withens.” Photo. wutheringheights Unknown. Dec. 18, 2016. <http://www.wuthering-heights.co.uk/locations/moorlandpics.php>