WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë | Review

I’ll admit that when I first read Wuthering Heights a few years ago I wasn’t very impressed. The characters were ridiculously melodramatic, the names were confusing, and there seemed to be no point to this dark, tumultuous novel. However, recently reading it again for one of my courses has made me question my initial impressions. They say that some things get better with age; for me, Emily Brontë’s classic novel Wuthering Heights certainly falls into that category.

First, I am fascinated by the layered narration through which Emily tells her story within a story. Initially the reader is led to believe that Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Heathcliff’s most recent tenant, will be narrating the novel; however, one soon realizes that we are told the story by Nelly Dean through the ears of Mr. Lockwood. This layered narration adds depth and context to the story of Cathy and Heathcliff. Reading Wuthering Heights almost feels as though you are being read an unsettling bedtime story that will surely give you nightmares nights to come.

Since I had already read this book once before, I now had the luxury of reading it again without having to worry about understanding the basic plot. (Also, pro tip: creating character maps beforehand is a life saver!) Instead, I could now focus on the characters themselves and the motivations behind their behavior. Rather than be frustrated by their melodramatic tendencies, I started to admire how Emily had crafted such memorable characters that reflected and interacted with their surroundings in such interesting ways. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange seemed almost more like characters than locations, influencing what occurred within their formidable walls.

Heathcliff caught my attention in particular; as I’m sure he does for many readers. I began to notice that most descriptions of his appearance, demeanor, and actions portray him more as an animal than a man. He is wild, savage, ruthless, and lacks any semblance of tact, courtesy, and empathy. Yet why is it that I still felt bad for this cruel “creature”? Emily’s ability to foster a connection between the reader and Heathcliff is one of the many brilliant aspects of this novel. Heathcliff may be rude and violent and unpredictable, but he is still human. The image of Heathcliff as a maltreated young orphan never quite goes away.

I wouldn’t say that Wuthering Heights is an enjoyable novel to read; rather, it is endlessly fascinating, engaging, and thought-provoking. I appreciate this text for challenging me as a reader and making me think about connections between characters, settings, and language more deeply; however, it’s not something I would choose to pick up on a whim or bring along with me for a relaxing day at the beach. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this novel again and I can even see myself picking it up for a third time in the future.

What are your thoughts on Wuthering Heights? Do your opinions of novels change when you reread them? Have any recommendations of what I should read next? Let me know in the comment section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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24 thoughts on “WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë | Review

  1. This is my favorite book of all time so I might be a tad biased whenever I express my opinion of it hahaha
    Nevertheless, I’m so so glad you gave it another chance and ended up enjoying it so much! I really think it’s one of those books you need a second or third (or tenth!) read to really absorb everything, just because of how dense and complex it is – which is remarkable seeing how there’s not an actual plot going on. Just comes to show how absolutely genius Emily Bronte was.
    I agree with everything you said. I always had bittersweet feelings towards Heathcliff but I could never hate him or love him completely. He’s that fascinating. Cathy and most of the others too.
    I LOVED the fact that we are told this story through Nelly’s eyes. It was such a progressive and inventive idea, and worked wonderfully for the narrative at hand. As a character, I also adored her to bits.
    This is definitely not a happy tale but it was never meant to be one. It wrenches at your heartstrings, viciously, and doesn’t let go. You’re always in this tense mood, hoping to find some resolve and never getting one.
    I re-read WH every year and I always end up finding something I had not been aware of before. It delights me that I can get a different experience every time I open it ❤️
    By the way, I rarely see people mentioning it but my favorite pairing in this is actually Catherine and Hareton. They are so sweet and lovely and make my heart swell just thinking about them hahaha
    Wonderful review, Holly! ❤️

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    1. It’s so nice to hear from someone who really loves this book! I completely agree about the brilliance of having Nelly narrate the story– it adds such an intriguing layer to the narrative. I’m really looking forward to studying this in my course this term. There’s so much to write about and discuss! 🙂

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  2. I absolutely agree – Wuthering Heights isn’t enjoyable as much as it fascinates the reader. Great review, Holly! I am glad you changed your mind about the book, I really, really enjoyed it when I first read it last year!

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  3. great review holly! 🙂
    i have read “wuthering heights” in the middle of the year and i have to say, that it was exiciting. i thought it was a love story, but nope, it wasn’t. i really enjoyed it, i felt many emotions. but for me, the narration was confusing. i didn’t think, that mr. lockwood was necessary. i think it could have worked without him, because sometimes i didn’t know, who was speaking. 😀
    i was also surprised there was a part 2 in the book, because i always thought it was a book about heathcliff and catherine. but nope! 😀 all in all, i really enjoyed it. 🙂

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    1. I felt the same way when I first read it– I was expecting a Jane Austen-esque love story and that’s definitely not what this is! But it’s so much better the second time around when you know what to expect. Glad you enjoyed it as well! 🙂

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  4. I felt the same when I read this book for the first time. However, I still haven’t read it again and I’m hoping my opinion AND understanding of this book will change when I study it for my course!
    I love your take on this though!

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  5. I agree that this is a fascinating read, not an enjoyable one, and honestly I haven’t reread it in years, so I’m probably overdue by now. Yeah, I think it was during grad school in fall 2010 that I last read and/or watched Wuthering Heights.

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      1. The adaption I watched most recently (which was actually about seven years ago) starred Tom Hardy as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Cathy. It was a 2009 mini-series (a two-parter), and I thought it was pretty good.

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    1. I completely agree! I think that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much when I first read it– I was expecting a Jane Austen-esque romance and that is NOT what this is 🙂

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  6. I never finished reading Wuthering Heights because I thought it was too melodramatic. I’ve never even made it through a film version. Maybe I will have to rethink based on your review. But I admit I still don’t feel in a hurry to try again. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry, I wasn’t in any hurry to try it again either… to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have for a long time if it hadn’t been assigned reading for my course this term 🙂 It’s definitely worth a second chance, though!

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  7. Aah yes. So true.
    Initially I left it halfway through, cause it got too dramtic for my taste.
    But then I picked it up again, telling myself that I have to complete it.
    And it was actually pretty good. Though kinda confusing with all the details and drama.
    But yes, I loved how the entire story was narrated in a layered way, too!❤

    Liked by 1 person

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