Book Review: Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte).

Wuthering Heights

–  Emily Bronte

I picked up this novel thinking it was a love story; I was wrong.  This classic gothic novel tells the story of two passionate people Heathcliff and Catherine. The story spans for years, revolving around two families Earnshaws’ and Linton’s’. The plot is complicated especially to describe in brief so, I will try to cover the main points of the plot.

The narration of the story is difficult to explain. The main narrator is a servant who grew up in Wuthering Heights named Nelly, but the first-person narration is of Mr. Lockwood, who is in the house as a guest. There is a narration within a narration in the novel. Mr. Earnshaw, Catherine’s father finds a young orphan boy in Liverpool, Heathcliff. Mr. Earnshaw brings him home to Wuthering Heights where his adoptive father spoils him, and the rest of the family reluctantly accepts him. Heathcliff and Catherine grow up together. I don’t know how exactly to describe their relationship, but they are really close. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Hindley is Catherine’s brother who tries to keep her away from Heathcliff after their father’s death.

Heathcliff starts getting jealous when Edgar Linton comes into Catherine’s life. Heathcliff overhears Catherine talking to Nelly about how she can never marry Heathcliff even if she loves him. Furious after hearing this Heathcliff, leaves Wuthering Heights and comes back three years later. In his absence, Catherine marries Edgar. Their relationship is tumultuous, and when Heathcliff returns, it gets worse. Heathcliff marries Edgar’s sister Isabella. Soon after his wedding, Catherine dies after giving birth to her, and Edgar’s daughter is also named Catherine. Heathcliff waits 17 years to get his revenge.

The book keeps you engaged from the start with its writing and the story. I don’t know what to think of the characters. I think none of the characters are likable and that seems on purpose. Heathcliff and Catherine are both so headstrong, stubborn, and hurt each other with their words and actions almost carelessly. It is easy to see how perfect they would be for each other if things didn’t work out the way they do in the story. It’s difficult to comprehend their actions and behavior to circumstances; it doesn’t make much sense. I kept on wondering why and how could someone be so cruel to others. Till it is between Catherine and Heathcliff it is still somewhat okay but then it spills over ruining the lives of two families.

Heathcliff is such a dark, obsessed and broody character; planning and plotting to get his revenge. The part where Catherine dies, and he goes to her grave, is surprisingly emotional. The way he behaves is not justified in any way, but there is a small smidgen of sympathy for him, and even Catherine because of that part of the story. Heathcliff’s doomed love for Catherine is his only redemption. The gothic setting of the moors fits perfectly with the tone of the story. The gloom and the darkness of the described landscape parallel the tragic story that takes place. The way the story is narrated maintains an air of mystery and doom throughout.

I am not sure what I expected when I started reading this novel, but it wasn’t this. There is a sense of tragedy right from the beginning. Catherine and Heathcliff’s love is doomed from the start. It is this love that drives the plot; the madness, need for revenge, this obsession, and tragedy all starts and ends with their love for each other. I liked the novel and the way the plot progresses. It is one of the best novels I have read. Everything has a purpose in this story, and it shows. It is a beautifully written story with a complicated plot and questionable characters. It is a must-read.

Author: Aarti Athavle

Daydreamer - Writer - Bibliophile

3 thoughts

  1. Exactly, even I picked up ‘Wuthering Heights’ thinking it was pure romance! It is indeed quite different from anything I ever read. Though I could not fall in love with this book but really liked reading your review of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

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