Certain novels come to you with pre packaged expectations They just seem to be part of literature s collective unconscious, even if they are completely outside of your own cultural referents I, for instance, who have no particular knowledge of or great love for romantic, Anglo Gothic fiction, came to Wuthering Heights with the assumption that I was picking up a melancholy ghost story of thwarted, passionate love and eternal obsession Obsession turned out to be only accurate part of this presumption Having an image of Heathcliff and Cathy embracingGone with the Windstyle on a windy moor ironed in my mind, I was almost completely unprepared for the hermetic, moribund, bleak, vengeful, perverse, and yes obsessive novel that this really is Don Quixote is not about windmills and Wuthering Heights is not really a love story Heathcliff and Cathy s love affair if it can be called that is a narcissistic I am Heathcliff Cathy exclaims at one point , possessive, and imminently cruel relationship predicated on self denial and an obsessiveness that relies not on passion, but rather borders on hatred They are selfish, violent, and contriving people who have borne their fair share of abuses mostly Heathcliff in this respect and in turn, feel no compunction about raining similar abuses on those who they find beneath them.
Given this dynamic, it seems perhaps inevitable that these two characters would make not only themselves miserable, but everyone around them miserable even after death This is particularly easy to accomplish mainly because there are with the exception of Mr Lockwood, the tenant who rents a home from Heathcliff no outside characters Everyone in the novel including the servants is isolated, trapped between the same two homes, with the same two families, and have truly no chance of escaping any of the events and repercussions that occur One character makes a temporary escape, only to suffer all the for it later More important, however, is the fact that Heathcliff and Cathy don t even need be present although they usually are in some fashion for their influences to be felt by the other characters The sins of the father, are literally, inherited and distributed among the next generation The children of Wuthering Heights are not only physical doubles of their parents At least 3 characters look like Cathy, and one resembles Heathcliff , but they are also spiritual stand ins They must suffer for past transgressions, and they must find a way to make amends for them All, I might add, without the particular benefit of ever having the full story, the context that might be necessary to actually change their circumstances Misery, it seems, is inevitable There is, of course, much to be said about this novel One could spend quite some time dissecting all the various repetitions and doublings, the narrative structure the story is told by the housekeeper to the lodger who then writes it down as a diary entry , or the archetypal analogies and semi biblical symbolism that seems to be implicit to every part of this story The point being, I suppose, that while Wuthering Heights may not be the wistful romance one or maybe just I expected to be, it is a particularly satisfying one for all of its dark and layered surprises.
You Can Find The Redesigned Cover Of This Edition HEREThis Best Selling Norton Critical Edition Is Based On The First Edition Of The Novel For The Fourth Edition, The Editor Has Collated The Text With Several Modern Editions And Has Corrected A Number Of Variants, Including Accidentals The Text Is Accompanied By Entirely New Explanatory AnnotationsNew To The Fourth Edition Are Twelve Of Emily Bronte S Letters Regarding The Publication Of The Edition Of Wuthering Heights As Well As The Evolution Of The Edition, Prose And Poetry Selections By The Author, Four Reviews Of The Novel, And Poetry Selections By The Author, Four Reviews Of The Novel, And Edward Chitham S Insightful And Informative Chronology Of The Creative Process Behind The Beloved WorkFive Major Critical Interpretations Of Wuthering Heights Are Included, Three Of Them New To The Fourth Edition A Stuart Daley Considers The Importance Of Chronology In The Novel J Hillis Miller Examines Wuthering Heights S Problems Of Genre And Critical Reputation Sandra M Gilbert Assesses The Role Of Victorian Christianity Plays In The Novel, While Martha Nussbaum Traces The Novel S Romanticism Finally, Lin Haire Sargeant Scrutinizes The Role Of Heathcliff In Film Adaptations Of Wuthering Heights A Chronology And Updated Selected Bibliography Are Also Included I never expected this book to be as flagrantly, unforgivably bad as it was.
To start, Bronte s technical choice of narrating the story of the primary characters by having the housekeeper explain everything to a tenant 20 years after it happened completely kills suspense and intimacy The most I can say is that to some extent this functions as a device to help shroud the story and motives from the reader But really, at the time literary technique hadn t quite always gotten around to accepting that omnipotent 3rd person narrators are allowed, so you d have to have a multiperspective story told by an omnipotent 3rd person narrator who was actually a character in the story e.
g the housekeeper Ellen The layers of perspective make it annoying and sometimes impossible to figure out who is telling what bit of story and over, because so much is related as two characters explaining things between themselves, the result is that we rarely see any action, and instead have the entire book explained in socratic, pedantic exposition.
The sense of place is poorly rendered and almost entirely missing Great, the moor is gray.
But ultimately, the most damning thing is that the characters are a bunch of immature, insuffrable, narcissistic assholes with very little self respect This isn t a story of great love and passion It s the story of how child abuse perpetuates itself through the generations The characters are either emotionally abused as children or, as in the case of Cathy I, they re spoiled and overindulged with no discipline and can t muster the restraint and self respect to ditch abusive relationships I kept waiting for any of the characters to be remotely worth my time, but I found no respite from the brutish abuse of the horribly twisted Heathcliff or from the simpering idiocy of Cathy I and II Ugh Not only are there no transformations or growth, but the characters aren t even that likable to begin with How this book got to be a classic is beyond me.
How can I find and put together the suitable words and write a review about one of the most iconic creations in World Literature One of those books that provoke such intense feelings that either you worship them or you utterly hate them There is no middle ground Every year, I revisit Wuthering Heights for two reasons First, it is one of my personal Christmas traditions and secondly, I prepare extracts to use in class for my intermediate level students This year, I finally felt confident enough to write a text I will not call it a review, but a summary of what this masterpiece means for me, what I feel each time I gaze upon its title.
I was 12 when my mother made me a special gift I have a mother that gave me a book about self destructive love and a father that gave me Crime and Punishment a year later I know, they rock It was a thick volume with a dark cover A cover as black as the night scene it depicted A young couple running in the moors against the wind, and a black, foreboding mansion looming in the background To this day, that cherished Greek edition of Emily s only novel is the most beautiful I ve ever seen I read it in a single day I remember it was a windy day, a summer torrent rain that lasted all afternoon It left me speechless It shaped me It shaped my reading preferences, it shaped my love for eerie, dark, doomed, haunting stories with twisted anti heroes It even shaped the choice of my profession.
When I was 15, one of the best teachers I ve ever had gave us a project She divided us into groups and asked us to make a presentation of our favourite book She put me in a group with two classmates Such kind and charming souls they were but would never open a book if their lives depended on it I didn t care, I was happy because I d get to choose the book We left our teacher crying buckets in the classroom, marking a heroic A on our papers During the 3rd year in university, we had to complete individual assignments I ll let you guess the theme and the book I chose My professor had to interrupt me at some point, kindly but firmlyYes, thank you, Amalia, this is great, but there are others waiting, you knowWere they Anyway, you get the point My level of obsession with this novel equal Heathcliff s obsession with Cathy.
Emily Bront s novel may not be for everyone It doesn t matter Nothing is for everyone But, she has created an eternal tale or nightmare of a love that is destructive, dark, twisted and stranger than all the other sweet, lovey dovey stories that have been written She has created one of the most iconic couples in Literature, she has provided the first and finest example of the Anti hero in the face of Heathcliff She has ruined many girls expectations, because who wouldn t want to be loved as fiercely as Cathy was For years, my notion of the ideal man was Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff in the 1992 film The best adaptation of the novel, with Juliette Binoche as Cathy How many writers who have written only one novel can claim to have accomplished all these One of the reasons I became a teacher was to have the opportunity to teach this book It is my greatest satisfaction when I see its impact on my teenage students They are familiar with the bleak and twisted tales of our times, nothing shocks them any They love it unanimously, it is a rare case where boys and girls love the same book equally So, mission accomplishedI cannot live without my life I cannot live without my soulFor me, this book is my soul It lies there, making the question What is your favourite book the easiest ever.
S Please, God, when I die, put me in a sector where I can meet Emily You can keep Shakespeare, Austin, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky I prefer long talks with a disturbed, fragile, wild girl all i care about in this goddamn life are me, my drums, and you if you don t know that quote, you re probably too young to be reading this and isn t it past your bedtime or shouldn t you be in school or something but that quote, hyper earnest cheese that is romance Wuthering Heights is something dangerous than romance it s one long protracted retaliation masquerading as passion and goddamn do i love it i can t believe i haven t reviewed it before i mention this book in than half of my reviews, i have a whole shelf devoted to its retellings, so why the delay but better late than never no, it s not a perfect novel it s a flawed structure revealing the actions of seriously flawed people the framing device within a framing device totally awkward having nelly dean tell the story even though where was she for most of the action totally wrong move, bronte it makes the beginning such a slog to get through but that s just stale loaf the good stuff is all the meat in between and oh, the meat the swarthy stranger of mysterious origins being raised in a family of sheltered overmoist english mushrooms, all pale and rain bloated, the running wild, two souls against the world adolescencechildhood indiscretions vows and tantrums, bonding, unspoken promises, yes i will yes i will yes i will oh, but wait, what s this it s blond and it s rich and it s whats expected of me very well then see ya, heathcliffit s just textbook gothic from here on out revenge seduction, overheard conversations, mysterious disappearances, murdered puppies, swooning, vindictive child rearing, death, ghosts, moors, phoar but this to me, is a perfect love story, even though it s like torture the unattainable is always romantic than the storybook i don t like an uncomplicated ending, and a story is impactful with nuanced characters, preferably heavily unlikeable throughout this is where i plug head on one of my favorite movies ever do it this story just makes me feel good and i m well over my teenage fascination with the bad boy i realized pretty quick that bad boys are usually pretty dumb so i moved on to emotionally disturbed , which is the same thing, really plenty of drama, and they will leave you drunken presents on your lawn road signs, carousel ponies , but not complete burnouts, at least but my teenaged dating pool is neither here nor there, the point is that heathcliff can be romanticized as this victim villain without having to correspond to the ideal it s about the level of passion, the size of the grand romantic gesture devoting your life to destroying the people who kept you from your true love is an amazingly grand gesture.
come to my blog Ah the classics Everybody can read their own agenda in them So, first a short plot guide for dinner conversations when one needs to fake acculturation, and then on to the critics view A woman 1 is in love with her non blood brother 2 but marries her neighbor 3 whose sister 4 marries the non blood brother 2 their 1,3 daughter 5 marries their 2,4 son 6 meanwhile, their 1,2 elder brother marries and has a son 7 Then everybody dies, 1 of bad temper, 4 of stupidity, 3 of a cold, 6 because he s irritating, 2 because he s mean and tried to rise above his station 5 and 7 are the only ones left, so they marry The women are all called Catherine, the men are mostly called Earnshaw, and through intermarriage everybody is a bit of a Heathcliff The Marxist critic the oppressed and underprivileged 2 revolts to improve his lot in life, but fails to make allies and loses everything, as always The Post colonialist critic once again the rich 1,3,4 meddle with the lives of the poor 2 under the pretense of improving them, in fact wrecking havoc.
The Feminist critic if only the Catherines had read The Feminine Mystique The Freudian critic repeated intermarriage and border line incest make for such good stories The Shakespearean critic Much Ado About NothingThe Entertainment Weekly executive stories told by sources close to the protagonists always sell well, because most people live vicariously And dinnertime has always been the perfect slot for gossip.
This is a review I never imagined I d write This is a book I was convinced I d love I just have to face the facts, Emily is no Charlotte.
I m going to start with the positives The characterisation of Heathcliff is incredibly strong He is a man who is utterly tormented by the world As a gypsy boy he is dark skinned and dark haired, and to the English this rough, almost wild, look makes him a ruffian He stands up for himself, and bites back thus, he is termed a monster In a very, very, Frankenstein s monster like sense, his perceived outer image begins to permeate his soul Call a man a monster, and eventually he may start acting like oneHe s not a rough diamond a pearl containing oyster of a rustic he s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man He is a very complex man, capable of great cruelty and kindness The world has made him bitter, and in a way ruined him He reaps revenge, but revenge always ends the same way it doesn t solve problems but creates So he becomes even tormented, this time by his own actions He is very Byronic, and by today s standards a little bit of a bad boy He has all the standard tropes of an anti hero, one that becomes a figure that can be sympathised with and hated He s a very complex man The Bronte s were directly affected by Byron s poetry Rochester is Charlotte s portrayal of a similar, albeit less vengeful, character Love is the key torment in both works Heathcliff has been rejected, as Rochester cannot open his heart because of his secret wife But, rather that overcome his personal loss, and subject the world to his dark and broody personality, Heathcliff actually seeks to do others harm He is a very sensitive man when it comes to his own emotions, though he lacks any real empathy He does not care that he is creating pain for others He spends his life spreading hate into the world His only redeeming quality is his love for Catherine, but that doesn t excuse his tyranny He knows how nasty he isShe abandoned her home under a delusion, he answered, picturing in me a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my chivalrous devotion I can hardly regard her in the light of a rational creature, so obstinately has she persisted in forming a fabulous notion of my character and acting on the false impressions she cherished He s so self centred So I rather like his character, well not like but appreciate the complexity, though the novel s structure itself was abysmal I have quite a few problems with the narrative.
Why is a servant telling us this story as she speaks to a visitor of her master s house Why are we hearing someone s interpretation of the events rather than the events themselves Why is it twenty years later in the form of an extremely long conversation Why is the servant still actually working for Heathcliff She would have left Nobody would choose to work for such a man It just doesn t make a lot of sense At times it felt like the credibility of the story was stretched to breaking point Nelly the servant actually being in some of the scenes was almost laughable Often it was followed by a terrible explanation attempting to justify her presence It sounded very desperate to me This leads perfectly on to my next point Half way through the story the start of volume ii we are told that the conversation has ended We then hear the visitor s description of the servant s narrative about Heathcliff s life I mean seriously So there are three layers of storytelling Isn t that completely unnecessary and overcomplicated Why not just have Heathcliff tell the story or at the very least have the servant tell the story from start to finish in one story arc with no time shifts For me, it felt like Emily wrote herself into a corner with her choice of narrative and desperately tried to write herself out of it to the point of ridiculousness How much of the story can we believe How much bias is in the narratives Then there was the dialogue overloads Large parts of the novel were entirely conversational The narration was minimalistic and bare The only character whose thoughts we were privy to, again Nelly the servant, was completely irrelevant to the plot Who cares about the servant s emotion and reactions This isn t her story thus, the dialogue was packed out to the point of unnaturalness to fit in the thoughts of characters whose minds we weren t privy to Simply put, the characters said things people wouldn t realistically say in conversation It was overflowing with emotions and private thoughts It was awkward I m not talking about private conversations, those don t happen as Nelly is awkwardly present for every single event, but announcements or decisions that should be internal announced to a group of people This is why plays have asides and soliloquies And this is why novels aren t told from the perspective of a random servant There is clearly a great story here Plot wise the novel is wonderful But the way in which Emily told her story was nothing short of disastrous It felt like a wasted opportunity I m absolutely horrified at how poor it is This novel needed to be taken apart, re wrote, and put back together again Perhaps then it would have been worthy of the story it failed to tell I ve never been so massively underwhelmed in such a blatant lack of skill in a canonised piece of literature, one that has immense critical reception.
I understand why many people hate this book Catherine and Heathcliff are monstrous Monstrous You won t like them because they are unlikable They are irrational, self absorbed, malicious and pretty much any negative quality you can think a person is capable of possessing without imploding They seek and destroy and act with no thought to consequence And I find it fascinating that Emily Bronte chose them to be her central protagonists.
When this was first published it was met with animosity because of how utterly repugnant these two characters were The way they go about their business caring nothing for others but themselves was enough for me to shake my head in complete and total judgment, as if Catherine and Heathcliff could see me and are then effectively shamed by their actions Wuthering Heights is epic, in my humble opinion, because I believe that the scope of this story is monumental Let me explain it is a simple tale between two families that are bound in such a way that their fates are irrevocably linked What affects one, affects the other Its about Catherine and Heathcliff who fall in love and how their relationship ruins the lives of those around them The book, all 400 pages of it, occur almost entirely at Wuthering Heights, the estate of the Earnshaws, and at Thrushcross Grange, the estate of the Lintons with only a couple of miles of land in between.
And yet it is not a small story.
The emotional magnitude of this book is great and far reaching The provoking and unapologetic quality of Bronte s writing is seductive The process of reading this story can feel so masochistic sometimes that its almost if she s daring us to stop reading and throw the book away Like its a game of personal endurance to see how much we can take, how far we can go She pushes at us, challenging us and all the while knowing that we have to keep reading because redemption awaits It is nothing like its contemporaries The moors, the darkness of the moors, that curses the household of Wuthering Heights and its inhabitants is ever present Nature is personified It is its own character its there, lingering and simmering ever so quietly, saturating every scene with its silent threats of doomokay, I have to stop talking like thiswhat am I any There is poison in this book, but let me ease your mind by saying that it is balanced with goodness also This isn t a perfect novel There were still moments I found myself in perplexion recently invented word And while everything about Catherine and Heathcliff may be corrupt, there is hope in Wuthering Heights If you can journey through the menacing forest of Emily Bronte s imagination, do it because the view is something to behold.
Ha ha ha, this reviewwhat even is this I ve tried it three times I know people are obsessed with it I hate everyone in the book and I just can t care about a book where I actually hate the characters.
And, sure, I get the interpretation that as terrible as Heathcliff and Cathy are, it s their love that redeems them, and isn t that romantic.