Book Review: Wuthering Heights

So the first term of my second year of University has come to an end and I just cannot believe how fast it is going. The English course is still absolutely fantastic and I would not rather be anywhere else studying anything apart from English. Yes okay, the course is quite challenging at times and it requires a lot of work but at the same time its rather interesting and quite fun at times too. This review is on Wuthering Heights and is a book I studied during my first year and at A-Level too…

Wuthering Heights is a novel based on unrequited love and one man’s quest for revenge. This book is a novel of two halves and personally I would argue that the first half of the book is far superior to the second half. The first part details the tense goings on of Heathcliff and Cathy’s relationship and how society keeps them apart whilst the second part discusses Heathcliff’s motive for revenge on Hindley. Eventually he attains his revenge and then repents for all he has done wrong to get it which eventually allows him to be with the one character in the text that he shows any sort of feeling towards. It is their relationship that builds this novel and is probably why this novel has come to be well loved by everyone.

It is the presentation of and connection to the character of Heathcliff that is the most strange throughout any novel that I have ever read. He is presented as scruffy, unfortunate, cruel, an outsider and likened to the Devil but it is seems that no matter how badly and satanic that he is characterised as I still feel sympathy for him and could possibly argue that he is one of, if not the only character, that is wronged throughout the entire novel. He has no background and was brought into a family where no one knew him or understood him. After Mr Earnshaw dies, Hindley treats him horrifically and he seeks revenge for this which he devotes the rest of his life to. The way that Heathcliff hears and interprets Catherine’s speech of how she views him is unfortunate but is ultimately why he leaves and comes back as a better man, although his determination for revenge on Hindley overpowers his sense and reasoning.

We learn most of the narrative through Lockwood’s perspective of Nelly Dean’s account and to say that the reader gets a heavily bias view of the events would be an understatement. However, it is through Nelly’s naivety that Brontë can display her main thoughts and ideas and it is through Nelly that we learn of Cathy and Heathcliff’s love. Heathcliff falls in love with her almost as soon as he moves into live with the Earnshaw family and they become close friends through the opening chapters of the novel. However, Catherine chooses to reject Heathcliff and marry Edgar Linton for money instead and like Gaskell’s North and South society does not allow the two lovers to be together. The difference being that Brontë  presents the two lovers as soulmates that live together in eternity at the end of the novel whilst Gaskell caves in to the pressures of society.

The chilling idea of Heathcliff breaking into her coffin and laying with her is not only one of the main Gothic scenes but it portrays this idea of  Heathcliff’s true feelings wanting to be with Cathy forever in eternity. For me, what makes their unrequited love and their broken relationship so strong is the fact that society does not allow them to be together in the real world but Bronte allows them to be together forever after their deaths which is ultimately more significant and symbolic than making their relationship work at the start. Another interesting point is that both characters die with the realisation that they need the other to survive which made me see their love for each other as a kind of addiction and a necessity.

This is quite a novel and even though it is clearly a novel of two halves, this book definitely earns a solid 9/10. The beautiful imagery, the well crafted characters and the unfortunate relationships are what makes this novel great and it is no doubt these things that have allowed it to be viewed as the masterpiece in which we see it today.

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14 thoughts on “Book Review: Wuthering Heights

  1. Agree with you that part one is definitely superior. The later Catherine just doesn’t do much for me. The nested narrative style is clever since we become so immersed I. The story we forget who is actually speaking. Mind you that housekeeper has a phenomenal memory!

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  3. Re-reading WH as an adult certainly gave me a different perspective and greater appreciaiton of the work than I had in high school!! Back then I thought of him as suffering from unrequited love and a broken heart. Now, after having worked as a behavioral counselor for many years I’ve seen the damage that the heinous environmental factors and abuse can have on a child’s developing personality….Heathcliff is an example of a textbook pruduct of such abuse and despite his violence and cruelty, as an adult l almost wanted to sympathize because of the cruelty he endured as a child …..except for the fact that he chose to let his anger drive him for all the wrong reasons! This man completely remade himself and returned to Wuthering Heights educated, monied and able to observe the social graces of the times….he certainly had the strength of character to have conducted himself for the sake of positive change but instead chose to be motivated and focused on revenge and destruction of, not only his persecutors, but their entire families! Certainly not the noble cause. His actions are even more vile because he conceals his evil intentions behind his reformed character facade. Heathcliff would probably have been diagnosed with A-social Personality Disorder if he were alive today!

    It’s a complex read, but well worth the effort!!

  4. No matter how much I wanted to hate Heathcliff, I just couldn’t. I was happy that in death, he and Catherine were joined forever. But in life he was a very sad man who never wished anyone well. His plan to revenge against Hindely only helped young Catherine and Hareton get closer. Well done! I enjoyed this review. Maya

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