Wuthering Heights Book Review

Article Posted in: Book Reviews

Wuthering Heights : A Book Review



By – Dr. Puja Chakraborty

Wuthering Heights Book ReviewWuthering Heights, which has become a celebrated classic, is set in the 19th century Victorian England. But interestingly concerns only heaths and two isolated nearby neighbouring manors namely, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.

The novel has a rich exterior as well as interior, aesthetically speaking. The picturesque unruly moors and the haunting old world charm add a special flavour to the reading. One can actually feel the pulse of the novel, however, careless a reader. The book engulfs the reader in a web of mysteries with its bleak, macabre, uncanny and oppressive settings. The protagonist Heathcliff appears at the centre of this puzzle. The beauty of the characters, Hareton and the younger Catherine is able to keep the ghastliness of Heathcliff at bay. The other most adorable character in the novel is the old faithful Nelly Dean. As a matter of fact, she is one of the prime characters, who is also the sole observer to witness two generations come and go by. Lockwood caters to the predisposition of a naïve, presuming and sober observer; an outsider. He characteristically reflects the general reader’s fears and suspicions.

The book has a rich cinematic appeal, with its Gothic features, recurring flashbacks and emotional extravaganza. The only drawback that the novel suffers from is probably the slow narration and the strange gibberish uttered by the servant Joseph, which is quite a turn-off for reading.

The story begins with one Mr. Lockwood having come to live in Thrushcross Grange. Its landlord is the mysterious Heathcliff. On the first night of his tenancy, he encounters the spirit of old Catherine and is terrified. The old nurse Nelly Dean recounts to him the previous happenings and he is stupefied. Old Earnshaw, the previous owner of Wuthering Heights, goes to town and brings home, a dark-skinned, desolate looking boy, who is also a destitute. The Earnshaw children, Hindley and Catherine, at first detest the boy. But later, Catherine grows fond of him and the both often play and spend time together in the moors. Old Earnshaw loves Heathcliff as his own child and favours him more than Hindley. Hindley comes to despise this. When Earnshaw dies, Hindley who has been living abroad, returns home now with a wife (Frances). He takes control of the household and tortures Heathcliff in every form. Heathcliff is made to work in the fields and is treated like a servant. Heathcliff suffers all his blows without once flinching. Once Catherine and Heathcliff whisk into the neighbouring manor, Thrushcross Grange, hoping to mock the fashionable Linton children, Edward and Isabella. Upon chase, Cathy is bitten by the housedog and is forced to stay there for weeks until recovery. During this time, Cathy takes a liking for Edward Linton. In an opportune moment of conjugal alliance and social upgradation, Cathy chooses Linton over Heathcliff. Heathcliff is heart-broken. He leaves Wuthering Heights and returns back favourably rich after a few years. He now lends money to Hindley, who has taken to gambling after the death of his wife, well knowing that it will only propel his ruin and push him further into debt. He also marries Isabella Linton and begins tormenting her. Hindley dies, leaving behind a son named Hareton, whom Heathcliff turns into an illiterate buff by stopping his education and making him work in the fields. Old Catherine is also near death after giving birth to a daughter, young Cathy, but vows to remain with Heathcliff forever. Young Cathy grows close to the sickly Linton, the only child of Heathcliff and the deceased Isabella. Knowing this, Heathcliff tricks young Cathy into marrying Linton. Linton dies soon after and so does Edgar, Cathy’s father. Cathy is forced to stay in Wuthering Heights and is ill-treated by Heathcliff. Heathcliff now inherits both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and rents out Thrushcross Grange to Lockwood. Over here Nelly’s story comes to an end. Apparently overwhelmed and taken aback, Lockwood leaves Thrushcross Grange and returns to London. However, he returns again after some months to learn of further developments. Nelly accounts for the lost time and says that young Cathy and Hareton, who were once poles apart in terms of education, civility and manners have now grown to love each other. Heathcliff sunk more into moroseness and insanity, and after a walk in the moors at night has died. Hareton and young Cathy now own Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and plan to get married on the next new year’s day. As peace finally descends, Lockwood pays a visit to the graves of Heathcliff, Edgar and Catherine.

Technically, the novel is infused with plots and sub-plots. Too many plots loosen the structure, which is a defect. Furthermore, the reader’s vision is limited to the narrator’s version, which can well be biased and misconstrued.

As a romance, Wuthering Heights immortalizes the love story of Catherine and Heathcliff. It exhibits the physical and emotional turmoil of Heathcliff, who suffers inconsolably for his lost soulmate. His own confession to Nelly is a testament to this:

“…for what is not connected with her to me? And what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped in the flags! In every tree- filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day- I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men and women- my own features- mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!”

Wuthering Heights also reveals Catherine’s unprecedented love of Heathcliff, who confides in Nelly:

“…My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always in my mind: not as a pleasure anymore than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being…”

Wuthering Heights is a wonderful verse in the form of a text. It has ample allegorisms, analogies, memorable lines and philosophical thoughts.

Wuthering Heights also delineates the avenger’s tragedy with the rise and fall of Heathcliff:

“Heathcliff came upon the two reading together, and their resemblance to his love with Catherine Earnshaw confused and quieted him. With these two in love, Heathcliff could hurt them both and finish his revenge against their parents. But he told Nelly: “I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.” He felt that a change was coming, as he slowly lost interest in earthly matters. Despite the memories each child brought up, he cannot get rid of them. They, and everything, reminded him of Catherine; and Hareton’s previous degradation recalled his own youth! He was not ill, nor in body close to death. But his continual torment, his constant wishing to be with the dead, made him certain he could not stand living much longer.”

Altogether, Wuthering Heights is a cherishable read and justifies the title of a classic.





Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Project Gutenberg (Last accessed on 1996/12/25). Originally published by London: Thomas Cautley Newby, Publisher, 1847. Retrieved from: http://literature.org/authors/bronte-emily/wuthering-heights/



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