Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

I first read Wuthering Heights about five years ago, and while I loved it at the time, I hadn't picked it up since. But because it was part of my AP English Language reading list, I read it again, and I must say that I don't like it half as well as I remember liking it the first time around.

According to the back of my tattered, school-issued copy, "There are few more convincing, less sentimental accounts of passionate love than Wuthering Heights," and it is "the story of a savage, tormented foundling, Heathcliff, who falls wildly in love with Catherine Earnshaw, the daughter of his benefactor, and of the violence and misery that results from their thwarted longing for each other." Well, then. First of all, I'm not sure what exactly makes Wuthering Heights "convincing"...what exactly am I intended to be convinced of? Anyway, the blurb is a pretty good summary as far as I'm concerned. Heathcliff is definitely savage and tormented, and there is plenty of violence and misery.

However, I would like to point out that from my point of view, their longing for each other was thwarted by no person or persons more than Heathcliff and Catherine themselves. If Wuthering Heights was real and set in present day, I would sent Catherine straight over to a little blog called How Not to Fall in Love - I have a feeling she might find it very useful. Throughout almost the entire book, the main characters seem to have the aim of being as utterly senseless as possible. In fact, the housekeeper, Nelly was the only significant character who seemed to have a lick of sense (pardon my colloquialism). While there was some reconciliation at the end, I was disappointed that the book didn't really follow the development of the two characters who did become friends. Rather, the reader jumps ahead a bit and finds that it has all already happened, and that he/she can only learn of what's been going on through a retelling. When a book doesn't have an action-packed, gripping plot, I find that I need some character development to keep me going, and I didn't find sufficient development in Wuthering Heights.

Perhaps I will like the book after studying it in English, but I doubt it. Maybe this will be one of those books that I read every five years and react differently each time. Have you read Wuthering Heights? What did you think?


  1. Me and my mum watched the film together a few years ago without knowing the story and spent the whole time hating the characters. We kept thinking how on earth is this one of the greatest love stories?

  2. I need to read this book again, it's been way too long.

  3. Jessica- In that case, reading the book will probably not clear up that question for you. :/

    Bibliophile by the Sea- It had been for me, too...and obviously my tastes have changed.

  4. I hated this book, couldn't finish it. Maybe I'll try rereading it again someday.. but probably not :)