Review: Wuthering Heights (****)
For our first ‘Classics’ edition of the year, our book club read ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë. I have read it when I was about 14/15 so I decided to read it again and see the difference. I only vaguely remembered enjoying the book and mostly I remembered struggling reading the dialogue with ‘Joseph’ who speaks with a heavy accent written down almost phonetically. So I was curious to see how I would get on, but it turned out to be a lot more legible this time around. Rereading old classics makes me realize how far I’ve come in understanding written English and I really enjoy getting to know the book better by rereading it.
‘Wuthering Heights’ is a love story, but also a history of a family. It tells the story of the Earnshaw family, Mr. Earnshaw randomly adopts a boy he finds on the street and names him ‘Heathcliff’. His son Hindley bullies and humiliates Heathcliff repeatedly, while between daughter Catherine and Heathcliff an intense, passionate, slightly abusive, love develops. When by an unfortunate misunderstanding Heathcliff thinks his love is unreciprocated he leaves Wuthering Heights. Catherine gets close with the Lintons, a neighboring family and some sense of peace is found. But when Heathcliff returns as a wealthy and polished man he starts exacting revenge on all the people who have hurt him.
When you start reading Wuthering Heights the narrator is a ‘mr. Lockwood’ who has nothing to do with the story itself. Through his perspective, you first meet ‘adult’ Heathcliff and the family he has created through his chaotic evil plot. I find Mr. Lockwood unlikeable and quite annoying as well, which makes the first few pages of the book a bit more of a struggle to get trough. However, quickly you find yourself in the retelling of the history of the Earnshaws through the eyes of Nelly Dean, their former maid. Her narration reads a lot better and I enjoy the fact that she is prejudiced towards the whole situation. She recognizes some of her decisions were mistakes, but as a reader you know it is part of her character to have made those decisions. The passionate, destructive love between Heathcliff and Catherine has to be my favorite part of the book. Heathcliff’s revenge is a bit over the top, all you can say about that is that he really commits in a relentless, thorough way. The most difficult part, besides Josephs dialogue, is the names and relations. In some editions, there is a family tree and I would suggest getting a book with one in or looking it up to prevent confusion about all the Catherines, Lintons and Earnshaws.
Overall I really like Wuthering Heights as a classic and I might reread it again in the future. Which classics did you read when you were younger and would you like to reread again? Let me know in the comments below.