Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

Another classic to cross-off of the NEA’s Big Read: Top 100 list!  I liked this book, especially when I got farther into the story.  The novel is framed by the premise of a new tenant learning the turbulent history of two families on the moors, the Earnshaws and Lintons.  It covers three generations, so it is helpful to have a family tree for reference.  Some books include a family tree or you can find one on the internet.  This timeline is also very helpful.

The love between Cathy and Hareton at the end was so wonderful.  When the love was realized, they were so happy together and made their surroundings blossom again.  And probably my favorite part was when Nelly confronted Heathcliff about his new mood, and he explained how he had the means right before him to completely destroy the two families forever, but couldn’t.  He looked into the young lovers’ faces and just let them be happy.  He still looked like a demon when he died but that choice to not wreck the two young people redeems him a lot in my eyes.

Critics of the time thought this to be a horrible book, and one even said, “We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights…” (Reader’s Guide to WH).  I am inclined to believe quite the opposite; I’ve never read Jane Eyre but from movies and my sister’s interpretation I think Wuthering Heights is far more interesting, less depressing, and more thrilling.

This is my favorite book from AP Lit & Comp this year.  Some study questions that could be turned into essays:

  • What role does Joseph play in the novel?
  • Compare the marriages of Catherine (senior) and Isabella.
  • How did Nelly alter the image of Heathcliff through her narration?

Read poignant observations and comments about this book on Only a Novel, also where the cover image comes from.

And if you’ve read this story, you must watch the Kate Bush interpretation.  It’s good for a laugh but also somehow appealing.

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