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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte
audio book: 11.25 hours

I was first introduced to this book in high school and I LOVED it. I think I read it again a few years later but I can't remember for sure. Recently I've seen reviews by several bloggers (some who hated it, some who loved it, some who had mixed reactions) and I've watched the new TV version. All this combined to make me want to revisit this book.

I'm going to assume you have all at least heard of WUTHERING HEIGHTS. If not, you can get a complete plot summary at this website, but be wary of spoilers.

Rather than a traditional review I'm going to post a list of the things that got my attention or crossed my mind as I listened to this very familiar (to me) story.

Let's start off with the characters themselves:
  • Mr. Lockwood - I had completely forgotten that he was the narrator of this story. Not much to say about him really ...
  • Catherine Earnshaw - spoiled and petted by her father, allow to run wild - her behavior doesn't surprise me based on her background - I don't necessarily like her but I do understand her
  • Hindley Earnshaw - didn't like him back then, don't like him now - he's a bully and a brute
  • Heathcliff - I've got lots to say about him! He is cruel and mean, obsessed with Catherine, careless of others, vengeful, calculating, and so on. HOWEVER, I still like him. (Shocking, I know.) What I mean to say is that if I were Catherine, I'd likely have loved him as much as she did - in spite of his horrid behavior - simply because of the "connection" that is so apparent between the two of them. I like his behavior even less after Catherine's death, but I still pity him and have compassion for him despite it all.
  • Joseph - I remember his accent being very difficult to read so listening to him was much easier. Don't like him though - he uses his religion as a weapon and he is mean and cruel.
  • Nelly - You've got to love Nelly. I didn't remember that she was only a bit older than Catherine at the start of the story - no wonder Catherine didn't want to listen to her! Nelly is kind-hearted and loving, and does her best to care for those in her charge.
  • Edgar Linton - Eh, not much to say about Edgar. He still seems like a pretty-boy to me, and a pushover as well. I don't particularly like him nor do I dislike him. He IS an excellent father though, and I enjoyed his interactions with his daughter Cathy.
  • Isabella Linton - Typical spoiled girl, wanting what she can't/shouldn't have. Why is it that good girls are always attracted to bad boys? (Been there, done that.) I do pity her for the horrors Heathcliff puts her through though.
  • Hareton Earnshaw - He is my very favorite character, the one I love without reservation. He is essentially a good boy and it is only his circumstances that cause him to be mean. I'm always thrilled when he is in the story. I didn't remember that he hit Cathy - that was shocking this time around. Still like him though.
  • Linton Heathcliff - Can't stand this kid. He's sickly and weak - which isn't his fault - but he's also peevish (love that word), demanding and cruel, and has no redeeming qualities.
  • Cathy Linton - At first I like her, then she irritates me, then I like her again, and so on throughout her portion of the book. I have to like her in the end though, because she finally sees the true nature of Hareton (and he's my very favorite).
And here are some things that jumped out at me as I listened:
  • Catherine's declaration of love and need for Heathcliff - "He is me and I am him" and her assertion that if one of them died that one would continue to exist as long as the other lives - I love this section! It shows the powerful and irrational connection between the two characters that forms the basis for the entire story. I could listen to that section over and over again - the writing is powerful and beautiful. Catherine's similar speech when she is deliriously ill is another favorite section for me, for all the same reasons.
  • In my opinion Heathcliff and Catherine's obsessive and destructive relationship stems in part from the wildness of their upbringing. They had little guidance and were allowed to run free and do as they chose most of the time. If other children were put into that situation, would they turn out the same? Or is there something different about these two?
  • Nelly is only 27 years old when Hindley dies - again, I didn't realize how young she was through most of the book.
  • As I said above, I really like Hareton - the portions of the book that focus on he and Cathy are my favorites.
In Suey’s summary of this book she said, “Eventually, there's a second generation involved and also all messed up.” This reminded me very much of John Steinbeck’s EAST OF EDEN, with the sins of one generation affecting the next. Did that occur to anyone else? Plus there is a crazy Kathy in that book too …

I am SO GLAD that I revisited this book. I love it as much today as I did back in high school. It boggles my mind that so many of you don't like this book at all - it truly is one of my all-time favorites. But I'll forgive YOU if you promise to forgive ME for not being interested in books by Neil Gaiman or Suzanne Collins. ~LOL~

As a side note, I'm not usually drawn to book covers but I had to show you the Kindle cover I saw online - isn't it gorgeous?!

Please chime in with your thoughts on this classic book. Do you love it like me or do you think I'm nuts? Have you reviewed it? Post your comments and tell me what you think - I've been really good about responding to all comments recently so let's chat!

26 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I just rented the movie (with Ralph Fiennes and Juliet Binoche). I think Catherine Earnshaw got on my nerves the most. Healthcliff had more of an excuse to be like he was. But Fiennes played him with this long stringy greasy hair that was so distracting! At least by the time Hareton comes along, the rejected boys seem to get access to shampoo. Hareton is also portrayed in the movie as the best in the bunch. I agree it definitely pushes the sins of the father idea but also, the need for getting out of the house more and seeing more of who lives in your neighborhood! :--)

Heather J. said...

rhapsodyinbooks - Yes, these people DEFINITELY need to get out more! ~LOL~ I'll have to watch the Fiennes version and see the "greasy" Heathcliff for myself.

PS. I just noticed that YouTube removed the TV version clip from my previous post and from the site as well. :(

bermudaonion said...

It's been years since I read this book, but I remember enjoying it. I think it took me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of the language, though.

Lezlie said...

Thanks for the link! You're so much more forgiving of these people than I was. :-)

Lezlie

Heather J. said...

bermudaonion - Glad to find another person who enjoyed this one!

Lezlie - I don't know what it is, but I really do LIKE Heathcliff and Hareton ... maybe I'm just as crazy as they are. ~LOL~

Plays with Needles said...

My dear Heather, I fall into the absolutely love it category. Well-written, complex characters, great story line...it all adds up to a great book in my opinion...but this one is really all about the characters which your review so aptly demonstrates.

Heather J. said...

Aah Susan, I should have known you'd love this book too!

violetcrush said...

I did not like this book very much. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. I read about half of it and it was engrossing enough, but I didn't really care for any of the characters, so I figured i shouldn't waste any more time on it. But that was a few years back, I might revisit it after this review.

Heather J. said...

violetcrush - I know that people react differently to this book so maybe it just isn't your type ... but do try it out again, just to be sure!

Amanda said...

I did NOT like this book when I read it in high school. But I don't remember really why so I've been wanting to read it again and see if I like it now.

Heather J. said...

Amanda - I wonder if your opinion will change ... we usually agree on books, but first impressions can be hard to alter, so I don't know if you'll like this one when you reread it or not ...

ella144 said...

I read WUTHERING HEIGHTS in high school and hated it so much I haven't picked it up since. The characters' selfish, destructive behavior annoyed me to no end.

(What kept me reading was the deep, rich, swoon-worthy writing. I can still picture the moor and house in my head...)

JANE EYRE, OTOH, is one of my all-time favorite books ever. I re-read this book regularly. The ragged pages of my much-thumbed copy feel like soft fabric rather than paper. (I won't wax melodic since this comment is long enough already.)

Heather, your review of the characters makes me want to revisit WH. I've been rereading books from my youth and marveling over how my perspective and opinions have changed in the last 15-20 years (don't know why this is so surprizing to me, but it is) and I'm curious what my opinion of this book would be now.

Also, I have a theory that there are 2 types of people in the world. Those who like WUTHERING HEIGHTS and dislike JANE EYRE and those who dislike WH and like JE. I've never met anyone who liked both novels. What about everyone here? Has anyone else noticed this? Do you prefer one or the other?

I'll add a third category--those who dislike both books. I have met a few of them, but they were teenage boys being force-read these books in school. Do they count?

(ps. that is the most gorgeous cover I've ever seen. Rivals the one for GREEN.)

Heather J. said...

ella144 - Well my dear, you're going to have to add another category to your list because I LOVE both WH and JE. :) I've heard your theory elsewhere before, but I guess I break all the rules since I love them both the same (but for different reasons). ~LOL~

As I said to Amanda above, it is hard to change your first impressions so I don't know if you'd like this book the 2nd time about, but I do hope you give it another try!

Jenny Girl said...

This book has been making the rounds lately, and I must admit it that I need a re-read. When I do I'll let you know.
I remember liking it the first time around, not having a strong reaction like some others.
My mom did not like the recent remake on Masterpiece but I didn't watch it becasue I wanted to re-read first :)

Heather J. said...

Jenny Girl - The Masterpiece movie was not a faithful adaptation but I enjoyed it all the same. Watching it was one of the things that pushing me to revisit the book.

ella144 said...

Heather - I'm glad to hear someone does love both books. I found it slightly disturbing that people were so polarized on those two books. :)

I was surprized at my dislike of the book. I was expecting to love it. It is definitely my kind of book and I was even going through a tragic romance phase at the time. Perhaps I read it on a bad day. :)

Alyce said...

I haven't ever finished Wuthering Heights - I just haven't been able to get into it.

As for the Kindle cover, it is gorgeous. I have seen the top half of the image used before though. It shows up on the foreign cover of "If I Stay." I thought the foreign cover was much better looking than the U.S. cover. Anyway, here's a link to my post with the cover image if you're interested:

http://athomewithbooks.blogspot.com/2009/05/friday-finds-may-22.html

I think The Wuthering Heights version is prettier because the images are both black and white, and the dark hair kind of mirrors the tree. Very cool! :)

Heather J. said...

ella144 - I can't be the ONLY one out there who likes both books, can I?!

Alyce - The whole "re-using cover images" thing bugs me, but I guess it is common - I've seen it mentioned on a few different blogs now. A sign of the times, I guess ... but I don't have to like it! :)

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

We read this book for a college lit theory course, which made me love it and hate it. First, we read the book all the way through and talked about it. Then, each time we'd learn a new literary theory (Marxist, Feminist, Psychoanalytic...) we'd revisit the book and reanalyze it using that lens to see if we saw anything different in the story.

I loved that the whole story is just sort of a giant soap opera, but remember that the story got kind of old after we went through it so many times. I think if I re-read it on my own, I'd like it a lot.

Heather J. said...

Kim - I think I'd get sick of it after so much analysis too! But I'm sure it was really interesting the first few times.

Amy said...

I hate to admit that I've never read this. I've picked it up, I've tried...but then I've always put it down.

Heather J. said...

ok Amy, I GUESS I can forgive you ... ~LOL~

Trish said...

Well, if you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I totally credit my love for literature to this book and this book alone. It literally changed my reading life. You write: "Catherine's declaration of love and need for Heathcliff - "He is me and I am him" and THIS is what I love about this book. Cathy yelling, "I AM Heathcliff." *Sigh*. It's been way too long since I've read it, but you've definitely got me wanting it. Glad to have you in my camp--the Love camp. :)

Heather J. said...

Trish - I think you were one of the bloggers who inspired me to revisit this one. I'm a proud to be a member of "the Love camp" with you!

Suey said...

I know I'm a little (okay, a lot) late to this post, but I still wanted to say.. wonderful review!!!

Heather J. said...

Suey - no worries! just glad you enjoyed it. :)

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