Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wuthering Heights - Book Review

It's strange that as a lover of literature (it was my major in college too), I haven't previously read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I'm surprised that it wasn't assigned for any of my classes. I've read and loved Jane Eyre by Emily's sister Charlotte multiple times and Wuthering Heights has literally been on my shelf for years waiting for me to read it.

Last week I decided to cross Wuthering Heights off my to-read list.

I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting. You can't not have some expectations about Wuthering Heights. It's often a favorite novel of other literary/pulp fiction characters. A well-written, darkly romantic ghost story. That's what I was expecting. And in some ways, that's what the book was.

The writing is really good once I got past the strange and sometimes confusing model of narration--the servant telling the story to a boarder who writes in his diary. This style removes the reader from some of the inner dialogue and thoughts of the main characters. However, if it had been narrated by Heathcliff, like Lolita's Humbert, I might be even more disturbed by his character. And who else could have narrated it? Cathy II, Hareton and Linton have no idea why their lives are being constantly manipulated by Heathcliff.

There is a ghost. Her appearance early in the novel is the only moment of intense emotion and romance that I expected from the novel. It is the only reason I was compelled to continue reading. I was eagerly awaiting another such experience.

The characters are either reprehensible and completely without merit or sniveling, abused pawns in Heathcliff's demented game of revenge.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. Lovers of Wuthering Heights will no doubt claim that I have missed the point. Perhaps. Maybe you have to be younger to read and appreciate the immature and ridiculous passion of Heathcliff. Maybe I missed my chance to appreciate this novel. Still, I don't understand why so many teenagers actually like it. How is this an example of true love? How is abuse and vile retribution against others romantic?


Megan said...

I agree with this. I don't remember when I read it, but I had the same reaction you did. I don't understand the "love" part of the story that everyone always romanticizes. I also found the characters inexplicable and repulsive. I've been meaning to give it another read to see if I missed something the first time.

Heidi said...

Finally!!! Someone else that doesn't get this book. I don't think I've ever read the whole thing. I've tried reading it a few times and have never made it to the end. I'm not a lover. I was a bit hesitant to read Jane Eyre because of this but I'm so glad I did because it was 100 times better.

mandy said...

I'll admit I read this book because of Twilight, and I didn't get the romance of Cathy and Heathcliff, but the intense feeling of jealousy and everything that goes with that and reading it from that view I enjoyed it.