Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

11019333Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Pages: 324 pages
Published: December 1847
Source: Thrift Store
Classics Club Post

GoodReads Description: Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before; of the intense relationship between the gypsy foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw; and how Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff's bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.

I'm giving this book 5 stars because it's a classic and taken in that context and in the context of it being written in 1847, I think it deserves 5 stars.  I also really enjoyed reading it, even though everyone in this book pretty much sucks as a human being.

Basically We Think Youre A Horrible Human Being And Bad Things ...

Oh, and bad things do happen.  In case you don't know the story, I'm going to do a brief overview to get my thoughts together.

Heathcliff is a poor little orphan taken in by Catherine Earnshaw's father.  So the two grow up together and are equally bratty children.  Catherine and Heathcliff are in love with each other ... obsessed with each other.  But Heathcliff is a nobody and Catherine is the daughter of a gentleman, so of course they can't be together.  And she even thinks she is doing him a favor by marrying the wealthy Edgar Linton, because then she will be able to support Heathcliff.

Well, she probably should have run that plan by Heathcliff first, because he does not agree.  In fact, he takes off to make his fortune.  And he does (somehow) and he comes back and mortgages Catherine's brother until he owns their childhood home: Wuthering Heights.

We don't feel too bad for him though because Hindley Earnshaw is a despicable human being.

Catherine and Heathcliff are still in love as ever and now she has this husband who's in the way.  Who they both make miserable... because Heathcliff is only concerned with Catherine and Catherine is only concerned with herself. But then in a crazy turn of events, Catherine loses her sh*t, goes crazy and dies.  But not before producing a daughter (also named Catherine).

Heathcliff's only goal in life is now to seek revenge on Hindley Earnshaw and Edgar Linton and he mostly plans to do so through their children and their property.  These children do all kinds of awful things as well as a part of Heathcliff's plans (mostly) and I liked the ending, but I won't go over all that here and spoil it.

So... my thoughts.  Heathcliff really get's a raw deal once the father dies.  Hindley is a monster to him and he is denied his precious Catherine by the circumstances of his birth.  But let's be honest, his reaction is beyond the realm of normal... I like to think that he was haunted by Catherine from the first day she died.  And maybe that is an accurate description since he was haunted by her absence.  But I wish that she would have been an actual ghost in the story as she was in the very beginning.  All this drama, hatred, violence and clear mental instability would have been great in a ghost story.

The other people in this book that are terrible people seem to me to turn out that way through a strange combination of indulgence and neglect.  Catherine Earnshaw is left to run amok with Heathcliff.  Catherine Linton, Linton Heathcliff, and Hareton are all likewise is spoiled and indulged or neglected.

And in that case, they seem to be fairly realistic characters.  They are all essentially recluses trapped with a bunch of crazy people! Or at least a few crazy people.  It was a great read and I understand why some people love it and some people hate it!  And honestly, I could go either way.... but I'm going with love it!  Because while it's not going to be a favorite I return to often, I enjoyed it and can appreciate it.

MY RATING: 5 classical stars!

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  1. Your review is SPOT ON!!!! Catherine was so frustrating! The only other protagonist I despised as much (actually, even more) is Scarlet O'Hara of Gone With the Wind, but I will wait until you read that one to hear your thoughts! They are both incredibly self-absorbed, impulsive, and selfish --- all attributes that annoy me to no end! And the subtle nudge towards a ghost story without a follow-through was a bit confusing; I agree that it would have been intriguing to have seen that thread continue. I felt a lot of pity for Catherine Linton being so neglected by her mom, so I was rooting for her later in life when she wasn't acting as spoiled.

    I initially didn't think I would like it since the main two characters are deeply flawed and make destructive, selfish, irrational, and frustrating decisions with lasting consequences for all those around them. And the story is dark and twisted, with seemingly no redemption for a majority of the tale. And yet, I thought it was fascinating. The narration style was creative and the setting of the bleak Yorkshire moors added to the gloomy mood. It says a lot about the skill of an author when you can carry a novel (that becomes an enduring classic) with two horrible protagonists since many people (myself included) like to root for and connect with the main characters. Emily Brontë's writing was rich, suspenseful, and engrossing.

    1. I agree with you that it speaks to Emily Bronte's skill as a writer that a book with such terrible characters is loved and endures. I liked it myself without liking a single character.

      I haven't read Gone With the Wind - I read your review of it. Do you think that Margaret Mitchell's writing is not as good and that's why her book is not such a hit for you? Or do you think it's because Margaret Mitchell didn't mean for her heroine to be anything but a heroine? Like she didn't recognize Scarlett's flaws as flaws?


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