Review: Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

So. Wuthering Heights. I’ve really been trying to embrace some classic fiction in an attempt to broaden my literary horizons. Rather than, you know, reading books I know I’ll enjoy. I took on this novel thinking that I’d hate it but I actually I quite liked it, even if it has increased my urge to hang out on the moors, embroil myself in a disturbing love triangle and die seemingly of self imposed madness. 

I’ve read a lot about how detestable people find Heathcliff and Catherine. I can see where they’re coming from but I also feel like the novel relies on the main characters being terrible people. Fortunately, (unlike the main characters) most of us have the morale eptitude to not allow our feeling to entirely govern our behaviour. This novel examines what could happen if we allowed our worst urges to drive us. I don’t think it would be half as successful if any of the characters took a moment to consider how their behaviour affects others. 

Having said that, the way that Catherine plays out her own melodrama does take on some tedium as the novel progresses. Heathcliff is the absolute worst. He personifies obsession and control and as a result I definitely wouldn’t categorize him a romantic anti-hero. If anything he’s fairly terrifying. The sociopathic tendencies run deep with him and some of the events later in the novel really tests the suspension of disbelief. Surely, even in the olden days, there’s some kind of recourse? 

I liked the fact that the narrator is Mr Lockwood (Heathcliff’s tenant,) but the story is told from the rememberance of Nelly who worked for the two families involved. This style gives both intimacy and distance, we can’t accept the account as factual as it’s interwoven with Nelly’s interpretation and prejudices. This adds to the mysticism & superstition which is integral to the overall feel of the novel. 

My lasting impression is that this book is a passionate account of the darkest side of human emotion. It isn’t without its drawbacks, but I prefer this terrarium of a novel over any of the other fiction I’ve read from this period. I’d say for 300 pages it’s worth the read. 

How did you find it?
What’s your favourite Classic? 

4 thoughts on “Review: Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

  1. Truly a great review. I have not read it, and have no intention of reading it, because there are far too many book I know that I will like a lot better. I’ve always wondered about it, however, so thank you for giving me a lovely review of the book.


    1. Thanks, I did hesitate to review it, it’s so well considered and people have very strong views about it. I much preferred it to Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice was quite enough for me forever. I’m onto American Gods now that makes me feel much better about my life choices. What are you reading at the moment?


  2. I just read it. I agree. I tried to decide which movie version to watch afterwards, and I decided on none, because I thought–based on the trailers and some excerpts–that none of them captured how psychotic Heathcliff really was, and none of them seemed to capture the strange nature of the Cathy-Heathcliff relationship. The various filmmakers seemed to want to force typical conventions of “passion” and “romance” onto them, when what they had, to my way of reading it, didn’t necessarily involve any normal manifestations of a romance at all. An overall amazing read. Unhinged and weird across multiple generations–really fantastic. I read an article (the Guardian, maybe?) that said people are either Wuthering Heights people or Jane Eyre people per the Brontes, and I fall firmly into the former. Nice review.


    1. Yeah I’m with you completely. I have seen some of the movie adaptations and it felt like a different story. The novel really tips over from romance and passion into something altogether more sinister. It’s a lot more a story of control and obsession than love. It doesn’t fit neatly into the boxes film makers have tried to put it in. I haven’t read Jane Eyre yet, but I would suspect I’m Wuthering Heights too, all aboard the anguish train woo woo! Thanks for reading 😀


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