Book Review (9/50): Wuthering Heights - Emily Bront (1847)

An otherworldliness of atmosphere pervades the text, this is perhaps the purest piece of gothic literature I have read, it seizes at the heart of the gothic most completely, so much so that rather than being written by the hand of man or woman, Wuthering Heights reads like like a tale being pulled out of the soul of a ghost, a ghost of the moors. Both the isolation of the setting and the utter desolation of the heart of all the main characters, and how genuinely dark some of the imagery is, especially for the time and the place its coming from, easily places it as one of my new favourite British 19th century novels.

As I'm sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of interpretations concerning what exactly is Heathcliff "the little dark thing, harboured by a good man to his bane". For me he is the evil that evil begets, an all-consuming spite against a cruel humanity, and once his spite is spent, and his revenge upon the race of man complete he is gone. Heathcliff's death, and the reasons for it, is for me probably the most strange part of the entire novel. Seems in an almost epiphanised state, in his last days he is slowly ascending, but to hell rather than heaven.

And yet how much of the reality of such an evil being can we even believe, as here its not just the active characters manipulating each other, not even the narration is to be trusted, Mr. Lockwood is a puffed-up fool who believes himself some kind of Byronic hero come to save the day and Nelly, while yes she presents herself as maternal and caring, why wouldn't she? There's no-one to challenge the story she tells Lockwood, and so there's no way to tell exactly what she embellishes, omits and distorts in her favour. Not only that, but its not uncommon in books with unreliable narration for pieces of the actual truth to be implanted in scenes where the exact opposite is assumed to be found, like for example, during Catherine's semi-conscious ravings as she is on the verge of death, "Nelly had played traitor. Nelly is my hidden enemy". Maybe she was more right than she knew.

CRIME Shirt $21.68

The Kind of Tired That Sleep Won’t Fix Shirt $21.68

CRIME Shirt $21.68

  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    One of the things I picked up on is the evolution of character through the generations. While the first generation, that of Mr Earnshaw and Joseph, are very one dimensional and can be quite easily defined by a single thing, such as Joseph with his cruel and twisted Christianity, the second generation, Heathcliff, Catherine, Hindley etc. show a growth, mainly in the growth of their passions, passions often taken to the absolute extreme, and often ending in misery and ruin.
    It is only the third, that of Cathy and Hareton, which are able to move past this violence of emotion and truly grow into people capable of a love which raises up and builds everything around it, rather than the previous kind of passion we have seen, a love, if you would even call it that, maybe obsession is a better term, only capable of destruction.

    The atmosphere of Wuthering Heights is really something rare, its more than something you can see, understand or imagine. I'd say feel, but I don't think that's the correct word either. The energy which the book contains is at all times being thrust upon you, this for me is why so many people dislike this book as so much of it is so hateful and spiteful that they themselves in turn begin feeling the same towards it. Not me luckily, I'm comfortable with saying its my book of the year so far, and Emily Brontë's death only a year after this was published, at the age of just 30, has got to be one of the greatest losses in all of English literature.

    4.5/5

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      why not 5/5 then?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I think 5/5 is for the ones that really affect me on a personal level, or leave me completely over-awed, and while of course I think this is an incredible book I don't feel as connected to it as I do stuff I do consider 5/5

        I haven’t read Wuthering Heights but it is on my to-read list. I think Charlotte had a good atmosphere in the book, similar to how you described Emily’s. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of locations and characters but the first half of the book has a slow pace. Once you get to the latter chapters things move forward quicker since the backstory has been set. The book is not structured how Wuthering Heights is but if you are looking for a piece from that period it should be on your list. Cheers

        Well thanks its definitely going on the to-read list then. I haven't read any of the other Brontë sisters although I do have The Tenant of Wildfell Hall so I might go for that one first.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          rating books on a five star scale makes sense in a way of course, but then again it's really ridiculous. I remember video game magazines being much clearer about it, like, graphics 8/10, gameplay 7/10, fun 9/10, overall 87%. then they'd go on rating GTA V 94%, like "yeah, I pour hundreds of hours into playing this game, but it didn't suck me off".

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            I know it's ridiculous and that just having the review itself is enough, but nothing pleases my autism more than being able to put a number on something

            I read four hours a day... Maybe I should copy you and start posting my reviews too, do you have any advice?

            I think you definitely should, the more people on here actually discussing books they read the better. I'm not sure how much advice I can give since I don't really know what I'm doing myself, but I'll maybe say that rather trying to get it all written out at once split it up, what I've been doing is the first things I write are just my most immediate thoughts and feelings on a book, which are usually barely even fully formed phrases, then I'll come back to it a day later and make those into actual sentences that make sense, and then I'll come back to that later and re-arrange and clean it all up to try and make it somewhat readable. It works for me because it gives me time to think of something I didn't the first time and helps me form a mental picture of what I want it all to read like, which for me makes it a lot easier and better than if I tried to get it all done first time. good luck if you do decide to post some, I'll be looking forward to them.

            When Heathcliff admits his quest for vengeance has been futile sent me in this novel. One of the first books I ever read for leisure. Thanks for the review.

            thank you

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      When Heathcliff admits his quest for vengeance has been futile sent me in this novel. One of the first books I ever read for leisure. Thanks for the review.

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    How do you read so much?

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      I try to get 2 hours of reading in every day. I'll miss a day every now and then but I try my best

      How do you feel about Jane Eyre op?

      I haven't read it so idk. How do you feel about it?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I haven’t read Wuthering Heights but it is on my to-read list. I think Charlotte had a good atmosphere in the book, similar to how you described Emily’s. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of locations and characters but the first half of the book has a slow pace. Once you get to the latter chapters things move forward quicker since the backstory has been set. The book is not structured how Wuthering Heights is but if you are looking for a piece from that period it should be on your list. Cheers

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I read four hours a day... Maybe I should copy you and start posting my reviews too, do you have any advice?

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          How do you read so much anon? Are you a NEET?

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            I really read six hours a day, but two of those are spent on textbooks so I don't count them. Yeah, I'm NEET.

  3. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    How do you feel about Jane Eyre op?

  4. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    im too lazy to write a review of my recent reads so I'll just borrow your ingenious numerology system of rating
    Madame Bovary 8/10
    The Horla 7/10
    Cousin Bette 7.5/10
    The Pirate 7/10
    Anna Karenina 9.5/10
    How To Read and Why 6/10
    The Vicar of Wakefield 6/10

  5. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Fantastic review, very close to my own thoughts, except that it really did personally affect me so it's a 10/10. My dad is from that exact part of Yorkshire and we used to go there for family holidays, so that landscape and weather were profoundly influential on me before I'd ever even heard of the Brontes.

    I used to really struggle to describe my experience with the book, because it was just totally real for me. I was experiencing an actual family's drama, pain, and cruelty. Which is funny because it's told 3rd or 4th hand in the book itself! The only thing I've read that was a similar experience was a Vietnam War vet's book about his experience, that also totally took me in as if him telling his story was taking back in time to look over his shoulder right there in the jungle. The fact that Emily Bronte could write something that has a similar punch to a first-hand account is amazing in my view (and again, weird, because the book itself is someone's recollection of someone else's recollection of a series of events, sometimes recounting a third person's recollection).

    That's probably a testament to her genius for getting into the heads of other people and really understanding things in both an analytical and subjective sense. Her schoolmaster at Belgium where she studied French with Charlotte said he could tell she was very intelligent and said she "should have been a man" because she'd have been a great essayist or scientist.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Thank you, and yes I agree that the way she can make something being told through several layers of recollection and memory seem so immediate and real is a huge part of what makes this such a great read. What Vietnam vet book was it that you read?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        It was Trackers by Peter Haran. He was a tracker with the Australian army. Great book.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          looks interesting, thanks

  6. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >wut
    stopped reading right there

  7. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    The Brontë sisters have an ethereal prose that makes their novels timeless masterworks. You should read Jane Eyre if you haven't yet.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      will do

  8. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >rather than being written by the hand of man or woman, Wuthering Heights reads like like a tale being pulled out of the soul of a ghost, a ghost of the moors
    Stopped reading there. It's a book about people driven entirely by their emotions (often to hysterical extremes) and obviously written by a woman.

  9. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    It's clear you've never read any gothic literature if you think wuthering hights is the purest piece of gothic literature you've read
    Fricking pseud
    It uses gothic tropes but it is far from a pure gothic novel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *