Monday, July 18, 2011

"Wuthering Heights" Review

I've read Wuthering Heights before. But with Traxy's "Wuthering Week" and the discussion stemming from my post "Rochester vs. Heathcliff", I was inspired to reread the book (without taking long breaks in between chapters this time). 

One might think that reading the book again (and actually endeavoring to pay attention instead of rushing through it to get to the back cover) would bring me to some kind of epiphany. Perhaps I might have an extreme change of heart and realize what so many Wuthering Heights enthusiasts see in the novel. I'm sorry to say that this was not the case. 

After closing the purple cover of my Barnes & Noble edition of Wuthering Heights, I felt all the same sentiments I experienced after reading it the first time. I still think it the most depressing and overly melodramatic novel I've ever read, and I have absolutely no idea how anyone could believe that Rochester pales in comparison to Heathcliff. Wuthering Heights is just extremely heavy! It's nowhere near as lengthy as Jane Eyre and yet I felt like it took me three times as long to read. Instead of feeling disappointment at the fact that the book was over, I actually breathed a sigh of relief. 

The core characters all had flaws that were so dominant that I could rarely see the good in them at all. Cathy is vain and, in my opinion, weak. I see a woman with no sense of constancy who seeks to make others miserable in order to secure her own happiness. She manipulates Heathcliff and in turn further augments his naturally resentful and devious character. I would have rather seen Cathy resolve to be with Linton and to break all ties with Heathcliff rather than allow both Linton and Heathcliff to struggle for her while she merely allows it to happen. 

Heathcliff...where to start? How absolutely evil can a person be? I'm convinced that he had no conscience whatsoever! What man could so easily wreak havoc on the lives of others, even with the "excuse" that he has? He knows no remorse and attempts no apology. Even in Cathy's last moments, neither of them choose to put their selfishness aside. Instead, they're arguing about whose fault it is that she's dying! 

I'm convinced that Cathy and Heathcliff's "relationship" can't even be deemed a "relationship." The two are better adversaries than they are lovers. There seem to be no traces of tenderness or regard for one another. But perhaps that's what makes their relationship appealing to so many readers. It's a psychological fact that we are attracted to those who we find similar to us. Therefore, it's only natural that a narcissist is attracted to a narcissist (and yes, I'm convinced that both Cathy and Heathcliff were narcissists). 

In conclusion, if you want to read Wuthering Heights, be prepared for a frustrating experience. I must also warn you that if you're reading it as a follow up to Jane Eyre or any other classic Brit romance, don't expect it to show any similitude. The one upside I claim from reading the novel is that now I get to sift through the numerous adaptions again. I like watching the adaptions. They're not as tortuous as the book. Reviews of some of them will probably be coming soon, so be prepared. 


  1. Thank you for sparing me the agony. I own about six copies of this book because they were beautiful old books from a charming bookstore, but I have NEVER read it. I always hoped to read it and discover I loved it as much as Jane Eyre. I suspect you are correct though, and I wouldn't like it at all. Great review.

  2. Ha ha I actually think you should read it. It's one of those books that a lit lover is almost required to read, whether they like it or not. Of course (as you can tell) I didn't like it, but I'm glad that I got the experience of reading it. There's also a chance that you'll read it and probably hold the complete opposite opinion of me, so I would try it. You can't really go wrong in reading it. The worst that can happen is that you either find out you don't like it and stop before you read the rest or that you read it and just never pick it up again. If you own the copies, it's not even a waste of money. :)

    Thank you for the comment. :)

  3. I didn't like it much either. I felt that the characters would work well on Jerry Springer or a reality TV show. They are so dysfunctional. However, I was glad that I read it. I think the hardest part was finding a character to root for. I couldn't really find one. I felt kinda, kinda sorry for Edgar and Isabella but even then they were jerks. I did find it interesting that it was the children who would pave the way for healing of the families although it is kinda creepy that young Catherine would marry both of her first cousins! Oh well, I suppose that was the only way to reconcile everyone.

  4. I agree. There's a complete absence of a "hero" in the novel, which is probably what makes it hard to take to. Despite the awkwardness of it all, I actually found Catherine's part in the story to be the only thing to look forward to. She's probably the one I root for most.

  5. The word that springs to mind when I hear Wuthering Heights is 'exhausting'. That's how I feel when I think of the characters and plot. I think Emily Bronte used the younger Catherine and Heathcliff's nephew (Hareton?) as a sort of symbol of past mistakes and resentment all coming to a conlusion (albeit, less than satisying for this reader). Cathy jr. & Hareton could've easily continued hating each other, and developed a similar volatile relationship as their parents but thankfully that didn't happen. I don't think I could handle a sequel, haha.

  6. I pity the person who attempts to write a sequel! It must be a tiring process. I agree with you. That's how I felt the first time I read it. I took long breaks because the book was just so heavy that I couldn't read it with a lot of vigor. I had to force myself to turn the page.

  7. Couldn't agree with you more! I'd like to add psychopathy/sociopathy (are those real words? Well, they are now!) to Heathcliff. The lack of emotion creeps me out. Narcissism, oh definitely. What frustrates me about WH is that none of the characters are likeable. In the end, it's like "oh so you're dying miserably? GOOD RIDDANCE!"

    Nah. Heathcliff ain't got nothin' on Rochester, that's for sure!

  8. Couldn't have said it better myself! What's weird is that I say all this and yet I'm highly anticipating the new adaption coming out. Why am I so excited about the movie when I couldn't stand its source material?

  9. I've only read the book once, when I was 15 and I'm still planning on rereading it one day to see if I still hate it as much as I did then. I do own most of the adaptations and I find I am quite fascinated by some of them (or maybe that's the effect of Timothy Dalton and Ralph Fiennes speaking... Tom Hardy suitably creeped me out in the latest one).

    It's funny that we can adore the masterpiece of one sister, while actively disliking the masterpiece of another sister.

  10. I understand how you feel. I'm also extremely excited to see the new adaption coming out soon (directed by Andrea Arnold).

    All three sisters had a gothic feel in their novels, but each had a completely different story to tell with completely different characters. As much as people try to compare them, it's almost impossible.