Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

Other authorsJack Sullivan (Afterword), Skip Liepke (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1982





Readers Digest Assn (1982), Edition: First American Edition, 303 pages


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

303 p.

User reviews

LibraryThing member atimco
Wuthering Heights is one of those classics that are constantly abused for being "depressing" or "gloomy" — as if a work's quality consists solely in its ability to cheer its audience. The expressions of hatred directed at this book really shock me, because I found it a very gripping tale. I read
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it long ago and enjoyed it then, and this reread has only solidified my esteem for Emily Bronte's only novel.

I have heard charges levelled at the novel that say there are no likeable characters, and that it is impossible to like a book if you don't like any of its inhabitants. It is true that many of the principal characters are hard to like. Cathy is sometimes shallow, selfish, and thoughtless. Heathcliff is something of a monster. Edgar Linton is listless and weak compared to the other two. Isabella Linton is a foolish girl. But I disagree with the contention that their faults make us care little for their fates. Part of what spurs me to read on in cases like this is to see if the characters will undergo any kind of change for the better. And even if they don't, it's fascinating to get a glimpse into their minds, so different from our own.

And there are other characters to like if we are completely put off by the characters above. Our frame narrator, Mr. Lockwood, is actually rather humorous. He is Heathcliff's tenant down at the Grange, and had removed there because of a love affair. The love affair is laughable: Lockwood was attracted to a girl, she returned his feelings, and it so disconcerted him that he immediately fled to the moor, to escape her company! His honesty about himself is very disarming.

Nelly Dean, the servant who has witnessed the entire story of the Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliff, tells Mr. Lockwood (and us) the tale. And I think she is very likeable indeed! To keep her head amidst all the raging passions and dangerous undercurrents of the other characters, and be that steady rock that really all of them trust, is no small feat.

I think the point of Lockwood and Nelly is to be our guides on the harsh crags of the Heights of love, obsession, and passion. Not for nothing is this story called Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff and Catherine live on a different emotional level, stark and bare and unforgiving. Wuthering Heights and the Grange are set up as polar opposites throughout the novel. The Grange is sheltered, comfortable, safe — Wuthering Heights is dangerous, exposed, and harsh. As readers, we need to see the world of the Heights through the eyes of someone with whom we can identify, someone who will express some of the same feelings we have. By using both a male and female narrator, Bronte fulfills that need and renders her dark tale accessible to the rest of us. And this, I think, is partly why this novel has attained classic status in spite of its many detractors.

Despite attempts to humanize and romanticize Heathcliff, he remains harsh, forbidding, and cruel. He is not the Darcy of Austen's lighter imagination, or a dark, brooding, misunderstood hero. He is a villain through and through, and everyone in the story knows it. It seems Bronte anticipated the attraction his darkness would have, for she wrote a female character into the story, Isabella Linton, who convinces herself that Heathcliff's gruff exterior is really hiding a noble character. She was horribly wrong, and suffered from her mistake all her life... an oblique warning to the fangurls of the future.

And yet one cannot help wondering what would have happened if Heathcliff had married Cathy. Would his rapacious desire for her (and desire in every sense of the word, not just the physical) be satiated by constant proximity? I rather think she was strong enough to hold her own against his need for her. Perhaps Heathcliff is overly romanticized by certain female readers because of his unflagging devotion to Cathy. But I think it is better viewed as the unflagging devotion of a stalker who is dangerously obsessed with his object.

There is a wonderful symmetry to this story. We start with a Catherine Earnshaw, who becomes Catherine Linton. And we end with another Catherine Earnshaw (who has also borne the name Linton, as well as Heathcliff, as a sort of bridge). The Earnshaw estate of Wuthering Heights, unnaturally owned by the interloper Heathcliff during his life, passes once more into the hands of the Earnshaws at the end of the story. The original Catherine Earnshaw lives again in her nephew Hareton, and the lady of the house again falls in love with an uneducated laborer. But Hareton's and Cathy's story ends much more happily than that of their predecessors.

Many readers note the importance of the moor in the story, as almost a character in its own right, that colors the tale with its dark bleakness and lays bare the pretensions of civilization. I was actually surprised how little description the moor gets — it is described far less often than the landscape in, say, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and yet it is central to the story, because it provides a believable context for the characters' motivations. It isn't to everyone's taste, but I love the Gothic atmosphere and the thought of the wind "wuthering" on the moors.

If this is a book you have avoided because of its reputed gloominess, I hope you will not leave it unread forever. A happy ending is wrested from the characters' choices, and I found it very satisfying. Emily Bronte's writing is very graceful, and I applaud her skillful characterizations. Her insight into the dark heart of Heathcliff is especially unexpected from a sheltered clergyman's daughter. But Emily loved the moors, and it is perhaps that harsh landscape that informed her imagination of the dark obsession and hatred possible in the human heart. I highly recommend this book.
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LibraryThing member amanda4242
300-odd pages of unpleasant people being hateful to each other.
LibraryThing member ncgraham
There seem to be three kinds of people in the world—at least as regards Wuthering Heights. Some consider it a swoony, romantic love story; others are appalled by the selfish and unlikable characters, and as a result come to hate the book; the blessed few appreciate Brontë’s vision without
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allowing themselves to become prejudiced by either the lack of sympathetic characters or the strength of Heathcliff’s romantic passion.

If I had read the book in my teens, I might have fallen into the first camp, although I would like to think that I had too much common sense even then to mistake obsession for love. Ideally, of course, I would like to be part of that last, most select group, but I’m afraid that for the moment I sympathize most with those who can’t quite love the book on account of the characters.

Almost everyone knows the story of Cathy and Heathcliff. What they don’t know is that they exists as part of a larger framework (although, granted, Heathcliff is present more than any other character). Before we even meet them, we are introduced to our first narrator, Mr. Lockwood, who is Heathcliff’s new tenant at the Grange. He has a strange run-in with the master and the other few people who live at Wuthering Heights, and afterwards questions the housekeeper Nelly Dean about Heathcliff’s origins. It is from there that the story-within-the-story unfolds, a multi-generational saga about an endless cycle of obsession, hate, and retribution between three families: the Earnshaws, the Lintons, and the Heathcliffs.

It has been argued that Nelly is an unreliable narrator, and more than a bit of a gossip. I like her, and think it is important to remember that she is very attached to the characters of her story, having grown up with some and helped to rear others. She may also be trying to distance herself emotionally from the story, afraid that she might otherwise be caught up in its torrid passions. Overall she strikes me as very level-headed and sensible, but that may be merely an illusion. It’s an illusion I readily accepted, because level-headedness and sense are exactly what one craves when reading the book.

The fact that there are Heathcliff fangirls is, I confess, mystifying to me. He’s a villain pure and simple, not a misunderstood Byronic hero. But at least he is an interesting character. Cathy Earnshaw is another matter entirely. What is wrong with this woman? I kept asking myself. Finally, I concluded that she must have been dropped on her head when an infant. Her entire range of emotions consists of pouting, mewling, screaming, shrieking, raving, and declaring that everybody who gives her the time of day is really driving her to her death.

One of the reasons I was excited to read Wuthering Heights was to compare it to that other great Brontë novel, Jane Eyre. But whereas Charlotte’s main couple are physically unattractive, morally upright, and intensely likeable, Emily’s are gorgeous, corrupt, and pretty dang annoying.

I listened to Wuthering Heights on audiobook, read by Michael Page and Laural Merlington for Brilliance Audio. Both did a fine job, but the transitions between narrators were poorly handled. Moreover, I found having two narrators distracting, as no sooner than I became used to Page’s voice for Heathcliff, I would have to readjust to Merlington’s, and vice versa. The fact that I can’t think of a preferable approach may indicate that Wuthering Heights just does not work as an audiobook.

I suppose I have been rather intimate about all of the things I dislike, but despite that, I do not hate Brontë’s book. I find it fascinating, if somewhat unlovable. Emily’s prose is superb—just as fine and sweeping as her sister’s—the narrative framework is deftly handled, and there is some unexpected redemption at the end. This is certainly a book I plan to return to, and I hope that a mature outlook will help me understand and enjoy it better. But for now I cannot bring myself to like it, and I’m rather disappointed about that.
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LibraryThing member Talbin
I seem to be one of the few literate women who - up until yesterday - had never read Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Given the rapturous delight with which many recall this novel, I fully expected to be caught up in a gothic, romantic dream. I think, however, I may have read it at least 20 years
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too late. If I had first read this between the ages of 14 and 24, rather than at 44, I think I would have loved it. Don't get me wrong, it was a good book, but I didn't think it was a great book.

Wuthering Heights takes place in the wilds of northern England. Mr. Lockwood has come to rent the house at Thrushcross Grange, and soon meets his landlord, Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights. After a very unpleasant encounter with the residents of Wuthering Heights, an unsettling night in which he is visited by a ghost, and a long trek back to the Grange, Lockwood becomes sick. He asks Nelly Dean, the servant woman who takes care of the Grange, to tell him more about Heathcliff and the other denizens of the Heights. Nelly gladly dives into the story - she has been serving the family for many years and knows all the details.


Thirty years earlier, Mr. Earnshaw, the owner of Wuthering Heights, brought a street urchin back with him from a trip to Liverpool. He is names Heathcliff, and grows up with Earnshaw's children, Hindley and Catherine. From the start, there is something "different" about Heathcliff - he is brooding, dark - an unknown. However, he and Catherine become extremely close, while Hindley sees Heathcliff as an interloper. When Mr. Earnshaw dies, Hindley and his wife take over the estate, and Hindley immediately banishes Heathcliff to work with the servants. Meanwhile, Catherine meets the neighbors at Thrushcross Grange - Edgar and Isabella Linton. Heathcliff abhors the Lintons; not only is he jealous of the time Catherine spends with them, but he sees them as soft and unworthy.

When Hindley's wife dies (after giving birth to a son, Hareton), Hindley takes to drinking and Catherine agrees to marry Edgar Linton. Heathcliff leaves home, never knowing that Catherine truly loves him, not Edgar. When Heathcliff returns, some three years later, he is now wealthy and bent on revenge. He gambles with Hindley, who loses everything to Heathcliff. He elopes with Edgar's sister Isabella, which may allow him to inherit Thrushcross Grange when Edgar dies. Eventually, Isabella has a child - a weakly boy named Linton. Meanwhile, Catherine becomes sick. When she finally sees Heathcliff, it helps to drive her to her death - but not before she gives birth to another Catherine, or Cathy for short.

Over time, Edgar dies and eventually Heathcliff - through underhanded means - forces Cathy to marry the dying Linton. He keeps Cathy prisoner at Wuthering Heights, even after Linton's death. However, Cathy and Hareton eventually become friends, then fall in love. Heathcliff discovers he has nothing left to live for - no reason for revenge. He dies and is finally able to spend his afterlife with Catherine, his one true love.

Yep, lots happens in Wuthering Heights. And it all happens to cousins, it seems. The plot is convoluted, but moves along quickly. However, I found it very difficult to really like any of the characters. Of course, Heathcliff is meant to be irredeemably lost. If there was any chance that he might have a modicum of goodness in him, it was snuffed out early - either before he got to Wuthering Heights, or soon after Mr. Earnshaw's death. I found Catherine the Elder to be pretty annoying as well. Although she says she loves Heathcliff, she goes ahead with Edgar anyway. She seems to delight in torturing just about everyone around her. Cathy the Younger was okay, but a young and somewhat spoiled girl. And the other characters? Either they were cruel, or soft, or cloying, or delicate, or mean, or some combination thereof.

I really appreciated Brontë's writing style. There seem to be few "literary" novels from the 19th century that speak in plain language (and yes, I mean "plain" as a complement). This may be because Bronte wrote this way naturally, or it may be because most of the narration comes from Nelly Dean, a servant, but a pretty well-educated one.

And this leads me to Nelly, who is our narrator for most of the story. Of all the characters in the book, I found Nelly to be the most interesting. Whether this was intentional on Brontë's part or not, I don't know, but I became more and more intrigued with her as the story continued. She is fascinated with death, superstitious, and doesn't seem to hesitate to be a tattle-tale. She works all sides, always making sure she comes out on top. In many ways, this all-too-unreliable narrator is the most brilliant part of the novel, and I found myself wondering just how much of the story was "true" (none, of course, but since Nelly basically admits she'll do what she has to to ensure she keeps her employment, one wonders).

Overall, Wuthering Heights is a good book. One wonders what brilliance Emily Brontë might have shown if she had lived past the publication of this, her one and only book. Too bad we'll never know.
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LibraryThing member Jenson_AKA_DL
When Mr. Lockwood became tenant of the brooding Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights he had no idea of the dramatic and tragic history of the land. When faithful servant, Nelly, seeks to enlighten him he is treated to a tale of horrible proportions, of violence and revenge and the inhumanity of love
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turned to obsession.

I can honestly say I never expected to like this story. I knew very little of what the story was about, just that it was a much venerated classic that was frequently used as inspiration for stories even until today. But, I did like it despite the fact that I'm not fond of colloquial language, tragedy or dark Gothic drama. I expected the writing to give me much more trouble with understanding than it turned out. In the end it was only Joseph's dialog that was completely incomprehensible and it was easy enough just to skim over those parts.

I've seen this story referred to as a romance which rather shocks me. I didn't really find the book romantic at all. Heathcliff's obsession with Catherine was so violent and consuming and later, what happened between Linton and Catherine, was more about psychological drama, betrayal and angst than anything else. It was utterly fascinating in a watching a train wreck sort of way. Also amazing, although potentially included with just with this edition, was the illuminatory introduction written by Charlotte Bronte about her sister Emily post-mortem. It is so hard to believe a young, cloistered, quiet spinster could ever come up with such a dark and compelling storyline. It is a pity that the harshness of the critics of their time hurt Emily Bronte so badly when it comes to such an amazing piece of work. It is easy for me to see why this piece of literature has been a cornerstone classic since the 1800s and I'm so glad to have finally discovered it.
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LibraryThing member StoutHearted
This novel is as wild as the weather on the Yorkshire moors; with so much drama and brooding, no wonder it's a favorite among hormonal teens. We have dysfunctional, forbidden love that destroys others in its path with its fierce passion -- it's easy to see why many personify Catherine and
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Heathcliff as romantic heroes. Yet, they are far from such. For one, Catherine is also in love with Edgar and the wealthy life he represents. In Heathcliff, she not only finds a pagan, raw sort of love, but part of herself: "I am Heathcliff!," she cries. But she is also Edgar, and is eternally divided between the two, never relinquishing her hold on either man. Heathcliff, on the other hand, is mad with hate, bitterness, and cruelty when denied Catherine all to himself, and he sets out to destroy the Lintons and Earnshaws. He nearly succeeds, but never finds comfort in his revenge. Truly, he never seeks comfort, either, as he begs the ghost of Catherine to haunt him.

Redeeming love is represented in the second generation, between Hareton and Young Catherine. Heathcliff's poisnous, "foreign" blood is finally eradicated from the Linton-Earnshaw line, and healing can begin for those ravaged by Heathcliff's revenge. Their early flirtation is a balm after Heathcliff's savagery, and a beacon of hope after the unfolding of a dark plot.

This novel is noteworthy for its heavy presence of the supernatural, which is intertwined with romanticism. When Heathcliff and Catherine are together, it is otherworldy, their passion for each other creating a place all their own. Catherine's relationship with Edgar brings her back to reality, to the duties of a woman in her class and position. She seems caught between heaven and hell, and unsatisfied with only one or the other. Perhaps that's why after death she's described as a spirit who wanders the Earth, later joined by Heathcliff's spirit, together as in more innocent times.
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LibraryThing member george.d.ross
Some people call this one of literature's great love stories, while others object strenuously to this idea. How can this be a love story, they argue, when Heathcliff is a violent psycho and Catherine is manipulative and cruel?

To which I'd answer, can't bad people experience love? There's nothing
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much admirable about these folks, true, but it can't be denied that they're in love... even if it is a sort of creepy, semi-incestuous kind of love.

People want to imagine love as uplifting, as a kind of salvation. Wuthering Heights offers of a different vision entirely: love is brutal, dangerous, and ultimately destructive to the lovers and everything around them.
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LibraryThing member nmhale
My friend has a story about this book. Like me, she is a fan of older literature, the classics, and that's why she chose to read Wuthering Heights. And she hated it. Really. She was driving through another state at the time, I can' remember which one, but I do know that they eventually passed
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through a small town called 'Hell' (I'm not joking, somewhere in this country you can literally live in Hell). Just as she had decided that she would never bother finish reading that book, she looked up, saw a billboard that said "If you're going through Hell, keep going", and thought what the heck, and finished the book. She still hated it.

Strange review coming from someone who gave this novel four and a half stars? Actually, I hated it the first time I read it, also. It's just too much, all the mental and physical abuse, the manipulation, the sheer awfulness of Heathcliff. Also, this was when I was in high school, and I was just starting to read the classics because I thought I should before college, and I thought they would be boring and tame like books we read in school. I couldn't believe the sort of reading material they allowed back in stuffy old England! (Along with this one, I read Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, and realized that my preconceptions about classics were stuff and nonsense.)

The second time I read this book I was in college and taking one of my lit courses. This time, I knew it wasn't a romance (hah!) and I was prepared for the heavy stuff. I discovered, to my immense surprise, that it was a well crafted story with an intricate plot and great characters. Characters I can both love and love to hate. The third time I read this novel, for yet a different lit course, I absolutely fell in love with it. The writing style, the clever framing of a story within a story, the odd use of narrators, the complexity of all the characters - Bronte was well ahead of her time in showing the good and evil in people. I was expecting a simple love story the first time I read it and was thoroughly disappointed. When I approached the book on its own terms, I discovered what a masterly work it really was.

If you hated Wuthering Heights, just read it again. You might completely change your mind.
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LibraryThing member dkgarner95
Sooooooo. . . Wuthering Heights.

I’m not entirely sure where I came up with this idea, but I was under the impression that this was supposed to be some kind of epic love story. It’s so not. Or, if it is, there’s an extremely thin line between love and hate. Like, practically non-existent.

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a teensie bit of research, I found out that the major themes of Wuthering Heights really revolve around Jealousy and Vengeance, rather than Love. This makes WAY more sense.

The characters in this book are horrible. They’re hateful, wretched, vile creatures . . .and they had me totally glued to the pages. I was all like, “What unspeakable acts of cruelty will they bestow upon one another next?! (flip, flip, flip).” It was mildly addicting.

And though I anticipated having a bit of trouble reading this, I didn’t struggle with the language nearly as much as I thought I would (with the exception of Joseph. Does anyone have any idea what that dude was saying?!). Did it stretch the boundaries of my vocabulary? Sure it did. But there’s nothing wrong with learning a few new words. Okay. A bunch of new words.

Overall, I wouldn’t exactly say that I enjoyed reading Wuthering Heights, but I was most definitely entertained. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the pool of classics, I would recommend wading around in this one. Just don’t hold your breath if you’re looking for any romance.
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LibraryThing member CarlosMcRey
I was struck by several things on my re-read of Wuthering Heights. Chief among them is the fact that of all the novels I've read from the sisters Brontë, this one seems designed to be the most challenging to enjoy. Jane Eyre has a very likable narrator/protagonist and ends on a note which may as
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well be '...and they all lived happily ever after.' The Tenant of Wildfell Hall's characters aren't quite as likable, but all the good guys end well and the bad guys poorly, so one can feel some gratification in that. WH doesn't even seem to have good guys, only different degrees of unpleasant people. WH also gives us the narrative from two different narrators, as if to distance us from the action; duplicates names to make things more confusing; and fills the novel with unhappy deaths.

My second thought is that a novel with all these challenges manages to be so compelling has got to be a testament to Emily's brilliance. Chief of Emily's strengths is her ability to capture character voices, the sort of achievement where you feel you could pick out a character just from the way they speak, or as with Isabella before and after her marriage, you get a real sense of what's going on in their head.

When I had previously read WH, it was mostly in the context of Gothic novels such as The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho, and it's clear that those older Gothics are important part of this novels DNA. What's impressive is how well the novel captures that sense of Gothic gloominess, moral peril, isolation, etc. without resorting to anything resembling Gothic histrionics. There's no overly flowery descriptions of landscape or much in the way of swooning or people going on about how terrified they are, yet the bleak wildness of the moors, the imposing greyness of Wuthering Heights, and the struggle of its characters gives much the same sense.

As before, I was impressed by Heathcliff as a character. He's a downright monster, and it's easy to pathologize his relationship with Catherine. Yet, I always find I can't really root against the guy. There's something about the way he expresses himself, his combination of defiance and pathos. He's like the perfect Byronic hero, some Dark God of Romance reminding us that love doesn't just sometimes hurt but can shake us to the core.

Heathcliff is the most dramatic character, but I found pretty much all of them interesting. None were exactly easy to like, yet they all had their humanity, and they were all largely victims of Heathcliff. That ambiguity of portrayal is probably one of the reasons this is considered a classic, a designation it richly deserves!
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LibraryThing member brokenangelkisses
‘Wuthering Heights’ is a novel made famous by the passionate relationship between two of its central characters, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. It is also strongly associated with the moors where readers imagine the two characters meeting and travelling together. Since I was expecting to
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uncover a tragic tale of love, reading the actual story brought surprise after surprise – and far more hatred and anger than love.

The initial surprise was to find the story apparently narrated by a Mr Lockwood, a name I had never heard associated with this tempestuous tale. Shortly upon arriving at his new home, he makes the mistake of visiting Wuthering Heights, his landlord’s distant abode, and is appalled to meet its embittered inhabitants. Lockwood offers unwelcome politeness as he tries to interact with a sullen servant, surly landlord and vicious dogs. Matters only become worse as he mistakes a pile of dead rabbits for pet cats and Heathcliff’s morose daughter-in-law for his wife. Unable to pursue normal discourse with his reluctant hosts, Lockwood decides to leave but is trapped by poor weather into staying in an upstairs chamber that he is guided to by candlelight. Before morning, he beholds a terrible visitation and apparently becomes obsessed by discovering the truth of Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship…

This is an excellent opening as it confounds the reader’s likely expectations while drawing them into an atmosphere of decay, distrust and malevolence which is only brightened by the prospect of solving the riddle of this strange ‘family’. Heathcliff appears to be almost completely malign and one wonders how he can be bent into any kind of hero fitting for a great love story. His only redeeming feature seems to be his grief over Catherine’s absence, revealed after an apparently supernatural incident, which appears to be both genuine and uncontrollable. This provokes compassion in Lockwood and the reader, encouraging us to discover the cause of Heathcliff’s intense emotions.

Lockwood’s confused perception is soon replaced by the more knowing narrative of Nelly, or Ellen Dean, formerly the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights and currently Lockwood’s one companion at Thrushcross Grange. Soon, Lockwood disappears almost entirely from the story as Nelly evokes the childhood of Catherine and Hindley Earnshaw, whose childhood is disrupted by an interloper: Heathcliff, a ‘gipsey’ child abandoned in the slums of Liverpool and rescued by Catherine’s father. Although both original children are initially piqued by their father’s ‘gift’, Catherine soon accepts Heathcliff as a similar spirit, while Hindley begins to shape a life-long enmity that will have far-reaching consequences.
From the very moment he is introduced to the family, even his rescuer comments that he is ‘as dark almost as if it came from the devil’. Throughout the novel, Heathcliff’s colour and character are repeatedly linked to the devil, but these references really multiply after Cathy ‘betrays’ him. From then on, Heathcliff’s revenge is at the forefront of all his actions and the novel enters a very melodramatic phase, well suited to such a gothic tale, during which Heathcliff gains such ascendancy that it seems everyone is terrified of him. Will he succeed in turning all relationships into bitter sparring, or can any descendants of this powerful pair of lovers achieve redemption?

Heathcliff’s ferocity and hatred are almost unimaginable, but Emily Bronte captures the passion which works beneath his surface. He will not allow himself to show grief, but it is clear that he is wounded at his core and this makes his basest actions seem to have some justification. Catherine’s proud nature and sense of relationship with Heathcliff is also powerfully presented. Although neither character is truly sympathetic, the power of their emotions forces the reader to feel for them even if they cannot feel with them.

Since most of the novel is told through two narrators, there is a certain distance from the action that renders some scenes slightly less powerful. This is a small criticism of a highly evocative novel, but it is worth being aware of. It is also true that such extended narratives require a certain suspension of disbelief as Mr Lockwood relates Nelly’s narrative word by word from thirty years past. Occasionally, I felt slightly frustrated when more layers were added to this screen – such as when Nelly began to give the latest version of events by giving another housekeeper’s version of events, gleaned through conversation while at market. However, the first person narrative also allows Bronte, through Nelly and Lockwood, to add a certain chill to the atmosphere by showing their horror at the events they witness.

There are two surprising gaps in the narrative, things we never see or learn as readers, which seem to cry out for answers. Did Emily Bronte deliberately choose to leave those scenes a mystery or was she unaware of the holes they created? One key incident takes place completely without detailed reference or date; our witness is locked away for a period of several days, without warning or explanation. When she is released, the deed is done and the details of it never discussed. Such gaps seem odd but could be felt to add to the mysterious atmosphere within the book: personally, they did not spoil my pleasure in reading but did strike me as quite odd, given the emphasis on telling every other aspect of the story.

Finally, I feel obliged to say a few words about the nature of the ending, without spoiling it for future readers. The final two chapters reveal such a change that it seems hardly believable and some readers may feel it is rather forced. However, I felt that, on the whole, the developments were in keeping with the characters and their situation, and allowed a clear resolution to the novel which has not previously seemed likely.

A bigger problem may be found in the attitudes towards illness displayed in the novel. Many characters are struck down by nameless illnesses and die young after lengthy convalescences. Obviously, people today are capable of suffering in such a way, but the lack of medical detail and seeming weakness of some of the characters did make me feel quite distanced from them as such weakness seemed quite unrealistic in an otherwise strikingly realistic novel. This is merely a problem created by reading a novel set two centuries ago and is presumably more realistic for the period. The many illnesses are also used to illustrate character and are important to some interpretations of the themes of the novel, so this is really a very personal and quite unjustified complaint!

Overall, this is a powerful tale incorporating gothic and melodramatic elements to create a much more textured and layered narrative than initial expectations might anticipate. I cannot claim that it is life changing or an essential read, although I know it to be a very respected and much enjoyed novel, but I did find it engaging throughout and enjoyed pondering possible interpretations of events and symbols once I had finished reading.
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LibraryThing member kambrogi
I won’t recount this tragic tale of dysfunctional family and twisted love; you can find a synopsis anywhere. I will say that this 1847 story could easily take place today, and in fact is retold in a contemporary context by Alice Hoffman in her novel, Here on Earth.

At heart, Wuthering Heights is
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a story of one woman, Catherine, and two men, Heathcliff and Edward, whose love for her shapes their history as well as hers. Although Emily Bronte manages to keep the sexual subtext under wraps, it fairly steams through the pages.

Some women have both a Heathcliff and an Edward in their lives. Heathcliff is the bold, rough “bad boy” who loves them with a fiery passion, and Edward is the gentle, grounded man whose love is just as sincere but less exciting, the one who makes the best husband and provider. Even if a woman has only one in her life, she knows what the other one looks like. She can imagine a life with him. Charlotte Bronte could, and she never even married. If you care to read about it, I highly recommend this finely-wrought original tale, rather than the thousands of cheesy genre romances that have followed in its wake.

Beyond the tortured romance of the three principals, what makes the novel compelling is the tangle of secondary characters through several generations, the vengeance wreaked upon and by them, the Gothic house and the sweeping moors, and those small rays of light that shine through all that gloom to reaffirm that life is not quite so bad as all that. I found it all marvelously entertaining, but admit that it may not appeal to those with little sympathy for the damaged and misguided among us. There are plenty of those here.
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LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
GAH! Pretty much disliked this one, manic depression and child abuse rolled into a package that seriously had my teeth on edge.

I prefer Daphne du Maurier for the same kind of atmosphere and would much rather lose myself in a Jane Austen for a period piece.
LibraryThing member infjsarah
I can remember trying to read this book when I was a teenager and giving up after 50 pages. 25 years later I thought I'd try again with an audiobook. Now I remember why I gave up - what an unpleasant bunch of people! I kept expecting something dramatic to happen but it didn't. If children are
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treated unpleasantly then it's hardly a surprise if they grow up unpleasant. And the great passion between Heathcliff and Cathy was more the rantings of 2 people who never grew up. Not a classic I would recommend. "Jane Eyre" is a thousand times better.
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LibraryThing member pmtracy
I can easily say that Heathcliff is now my most despised literary villain of all time.

While set in the early 19th century, the story is timeless. Many reviewers and literary critics focus on the unrequited love between Heathcliff and Catherine. However, I disagree that this is the main theme of the
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story. Heathcliff is far from a star-struck lover. Instead, at its root is the importance of a child’s formative years and the impact that abuse can have on their place in society as an adult.

As an adopted orphan “gypsy child,” Heathcliff was treated horribly by his siblings and as a servant or outcast. He was often referred to as “it” and was both physically and mentally abused. He grows to become a sadistic sociopath fixated on vengeance with a sole purpose in life to ruin the family that took him in as a child and gaining control of the family home, Wuthering Heights, and the surrounding property.

I was surprised by the relatively graphic descriptions of the physical and mental abuse in this book. While trivial by today’s standards, I can only imagine what a reader of 1847 would have thought. The cruelty is central to the story, however, as it provides the foundation for the characters’ behavior.

The plot can be challenging to follow as two family lines continually intertwine. The intermarriage between the Earnshaws and Lintons is what initially works to Heathcliff’s advantage in gaining control over both houses but eventually results in their return to the rightful owner.

I have to admit that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. It had never really been on my reading radar before and I picked it up on a whim. I’m glad I did.
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LibraryThing member antao
(Original Review, 1981-01-02)

The “dog scene” does not exist in the book as some sort of sick foreplay; it’s actually an extremely clever piece of writing. Besides showing Heathcliff total disregard for Isabella, it’s a reality check for those girls with romantic notions about Byronesque
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“bad boys”. Isabella is so infatuated, that she cannot understand, although he flaunts it on her face ( that’s what makes the scene interesting) that what she takes for intensity and romantic darkness is actually plain cruelty. Isabella is selective in what she chooses to see, she wants to run away with this man everyone calls dangerous and not even the fact he hangs her pet dog stops her on her tracks. As we will see later in the book she does eventually find out he’s actually a plain domestic abuser, but by then she has been totally crushed.
It’s not Emily’s fault people see Heathcliff as some sort of romantic hero, just like Isabella readers have been choosing what they want to highlight or disregard.

The book has been adapted many times - mostly very badly and there a misunderstanding that this is a romantic novel so people are confused and disappointed in it. It’s also been lampooned many times. Actually it’s an extraordinary brilliant observation of the effect of neglect in early childhood, long before child psychiatry. There is no whitewashing and the damage done as an infant to Heathcliffe is permanent despite the kindness of the Earnshaws. He destroys what he loves and others with him. The character of Nelli Dean is also brilliantly drawn. She understands more than anyone but is forced to observe on the sidelines as a servant as the family and then another family is pulled into the tragedy. I love the story of her refusal to accommodate her precious piano pupils play time and her preference to the dog.

The Brontës lived though a traumatic childhood and survived a boarding school which sounded like a pro type for the workhouses. Haworth at the time had greater social deprivation than the east end of London, with all the alcoholism, drugs, disease and violence that went with it and their brother brought home daily. Orphans and abandoned children were bought like slaves from London to work in the mill towns and as vicarage daughters were expected to help out with the night schools their father had organised. They weren’t sheltered - they saw the lot which is why no doubt Emily Brontë drew the character of an abandoned orphan child so well. Emily Brontë refused to admit to her consumption and was kneading bread the morning she died. Like Elizabeth, first she remained standing for as long as possible only finally lying down just before she died.

Child neglect, for whatever reason, it was one of the themes in “Wuthering Heights” that stroked a chord with me, and I do not think it’s explored enough. The fact that Heathcliff decided to replicate his own abuse by inflicting it on Hareton, with the expectation that he would turn out as “twisted” as him as form of vengeance is quite interesting. Even more interesting is the fact Emily chose to make that experiment a failed one; even before that advent of child psychology, she clearly understood that the experience of abuse and neglect is unique to the individual, and the way people react to it unpredictable. That’s something that bewildered Heathcliff, and in a way, the realisation that he could not make people as detestable as he was, even though they have also been victimised, contributed to, by the end to make him him even more unstable.
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LibraryThing member Caitak
Not sure whether or not I liked this one.

None of the main characters were very likeable - the only one I felt really sorry for was Hareton.

The narration jumped around a bit and confused me at times.

Liked the use of Yorkshire dialect for some of the characters - even if it was difficult at
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Will reread for literature course next year.
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LibraryThing member elenchus
I anticipated an insipid romance: it was that, but not for reasons expected. Rather than mawkish and treacly behaviour, Heathcliff & Catherine display a wholly unexpected level of obsession (devotion?) to one another, contrary to any evidence of tender feeling or even physical attraction. Not only
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are they not doe-eyed in their expressions or interactions, each instead appears manic and possessive, verging on feral, and I am mystified as to what either sees in or feels for the other.

Beyond that central mystery, this is a bat-sh*t crazy novel. Perennial criticisms of genre fiction (which typically I consider unfair generalizations) legitimately apply here: the plot is preposterous; most everyone is cynical if not sadistic in behavior to one another; coincidence triumphs over reasonable expectation at every turn. How Brontë's novel came to be regarded as a Classic is frankly dumbfounding. How it came to be shorthand for Gothic Romance, is equally mystifying. Perhaps Heathcliff's & Catherine's obsessive devotion in the face of (what they apparently perceive to be) universal approbation by their peers and elders underwrites so many readers' love for these two. It only left me cold.

I do have some faint curiosity regarding Brontë's motives for writing the novel. Was this a cautionary tale? If so, whom did she expect to reach? The story involves mean-spirited people behaving selfishly at every turn with scarcely an empathetic character to be found. And then, Brontë chose to relay the story in perhaps the most convoluted way possible, as though recounting a soap opera family drama from the vantage of the mail carrier, and chronologically backward. (I freely acknowledge the "mail carrier", Lockwood, to be an hysterical character study worth the price of admission. To be accurate, however, he is merely the secretary, taking dictation from Nelly Deal, the house gossip who recounts him the tale over her knitting.)

It occurs to me my reaction here is similar to what I've read others describe in reference to The Catcher In The Rye. I find Holden Caulfield infinitely more sympathetic and relatable.


Reading presented an excuse to re-acquaint myself with the Kate Bush single: was the song perhaps critical of the couple? No, not a bit. Kate was 18, and apparently genuinely impressed with Heathcliff and Cathy. The vignette she captures in the lyric is the best part of the novel, and ignores the swaths I find so exasperating. Oh well, a good tune, but I found it wholly disconnected from my experience of the book.
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LibraryThing member osunale
This is one of the very few books that I just could not bear to finish, and in fact I think it is one of the worst "good" books I have ever encountered (maybe only the works of Fitzgerald are worse). I wanted to like it so much! The writing is often superb, and the description of the scenery is
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darkly brilliant, the story as described by others sounds incredibly interesting, and, heck, I love the works of the other Brontës, so why should Emily be any different?

But actually sitting down with this book, reading it, trying to get into it turned out to be a miserable experience. The characters are detestable, and generally, this supposedly intense/tragic/whatever love story is mostly over dramatic drivel that makes any of today's soap operas look tame and reasonable by comparison.

Overall, I can see why many people like it, even love it; the potential for a good story is there (though not, in my mind, ever realized). Just not my cup of tea, I suppose.
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LibraryThing member wiremonkey
This was our token classic read for our January Book club meeting. I had read it as a teenager and in my angry, unsentimental, opinionated teenage way, hated it with a passion (I felt the same way about Romeo and Juliet- just didn't feel their actions were believable or justified and it bugged me
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more than I care to admit right now.) So I was very curious to see how the balm of years would have affected my opinion of this revered classic.

Although I didn't feel the violent hatred against it, I still have to admit I was a little perplexed. It just wasn't that good. Oh, she creates a creepy scenario, and the Gothic elements (the wailing wind, the ghost of Catherine, the surly servants, the dark, foreboding Heathcliff) are played up, but still. One gets the feeling that if they just left their house, went to a ball or something, a lot of the drama could be avoided. I won't even talk about it being a love story, unless by love you mean creepy stalker man who needs to crush any spirit in his object of devotion and bring you home trussed and gagged like a pheasant killed on the ever present moors.

The one aspect I did find interesting though, was Brontë's complete refusal to make any of her characters good. They were all deeply flawed, imperfect. The women in Wuthering Heights gave as much as they were given, were just as full of vindictiveness and anger as the men. No demure damsels for Miss Brontë, no sirree. In all a perplexing, but worthwhile read, if only to try and understand what aspect of the book as captured the imagination of a good part of the reading population for over a 150 years.
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LibraryThing member ysar
I'm pretty sure Hell is a library with nothing but Wuthering Heights on its shelves. As anyone can see from my library, I'm more than a little fond of classics. But this book is nothing short of torture. Heathcliff is an ass, Catherine is an idiot, and everyone around them is doomed. If you are
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tempted to read this book, seek professional help. It's the most pointless, depressing waste of time I've subjected myself to in quite some time. Seriously, this book sucks.
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LibraryThing member sappenfield
I disliked this as much as I loved Jane Eyre. It was overdone and over the top. I only keep it because it is part of the set.
LibraryThing member MissLizzy
Wow. I was expecting...so much more. I guess I should stop comparing siblings' writings--JANE EYRE was SO good. This book DOES have its merits, but not enough to balance the horrible characters contained within its pages. I really didn't enjoy this book. At all.
LibraryThing member PensiveCat
I have a real love/hate relationship with this well-known classic. Part of me thinks it's incredibly romantic, in a dark way, and part of me thinks it's simply overdramatic. Heathcliff is at first appealing and sympathetic and then becomes a complete villain. Everyone else is insipid. All of this
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is forgivable. My real problem with the book is the phonetic dialogue of a provincial accent. It renders one open to migraines.

I still recommend it. Choose a stormy day to read it.
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LibraryThing member mbmackay
The classic Victorian era novel that I have heard described as the best novel ever. I disagree. Powerfully written, and with a vibrancy that explains its good reputation, I found the basic premise puzzling. Great novels seem to throw light on fundamental human values or actions. The actions of the
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characters in WH seem to defy human nature. The foundling is preferred over the natural son? The heroine marries the neighbour in order to "help" her true love, Heathcliffe? The second generation marry because Heathcliffe forces them to do so? My problem is not to do with the darkness of the characters and their actions, it is that their actions and motivations defy human nature. People do bad things for more explicable reasons than are given here. So, good book, well worth reading, well worth much of its reputation, but this is not Austen or Trollope. Read October 2011.
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½ (9286 ratings; 3.9)
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