Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights

I’m ashamed to say I’ve never had a great interest to read this book. I have watched two different adaptations and I’ve hated both of them. Heathcliff and Catherine are both horrible human beings in my opinion and the romance was way too idealized for my taste. However, this is such a famous classic, and I love the Brontë sisters writing in general, so I wanted to read this book eventually. And I am so glad I did, because it is definitely very different than the movie adaptations.

Release: 1847

Page Count: 353

Format: Audiobook

Synopsis: Thus tells the tale of a poor boy, Heathcliff, raised in a beautiful house on the English moors. He loved Catherine, the sister of the owner, whose selfish cruelty leads to his own cruelty as they destroy the lives of everyone around them.

Spoiler Review

This book is nothing like what the adaptations would have you believe. It is a dark, gothic tale of how selfishness can bring to cruelty and unhappiness. My favorite part of the book is that most of it is told from the maid Nelly’s perspective, who grew up with Heathcliff and Catherine, and is no nonsense dealing with all their absurdity. Most every other character is horrible, selfish and cruel, where she is always the sound voice of reason. If she did not exist in the book to bring perspective to goodness, I would not have enjoyed it half as much. This is also NOT a romance, as the movies seem to focus on. Instead, it is perhaps similar to Charles Dicken’s writing, where it is a tale of caution of where lust and egotism can lead to unhappiness and death.

I will be talking about full spoilers, because this is such an old classic and a lot of people probably know the plot, if not the full details. However, if you don’t want to be spoiled fully, skip at least this paragraph. Heathcliff and Catherine fall in love as children, but Catherine later decides to marry Edgar Linton for money. In revenge, Heathcliff marries Edgar’s sister Isabella. Both couples have children (Isabella a boy, Catherine a girl). Catherine dies just after giving birth to Cathy (her name is Catherine too, but I’ll call her Cathy to avoid confusion) and a few years later Isabella dies leaving Linton (Heathcliff’s son) to his cruel and brooding father who lives alone now in Wuthering Heights, the original house of Catherine and her brother, now dead. Heathcliff decides to force Cathy to marry Linton to seek a final revenge on Catherine and Edgar (who dies just after Cathy and Linton marry). Eventually, Heathcliff dies and Cathy and Linton live as happily as possible, now no long burdened with the sins of their parents but always living with the memory of them. Of course, all of this is witnessed by Nelly, who practically raised Heathcliff and Catherine and later raises Cathy as well.

It’s not a romance mostly because Catherine dies not even halfway through the book, and then the focus is on Cathy growing up and Heathcliff’s growing evil as he is bombarded with nightmares of the past.

There are so many things to love about this book. There is the ominous atmosphere and the lush descriptions. There are the themes of insanity, self-indulgence, malice, and revenge. It’s a moving narrative which takes a look both at nature vs. nurture as well as the darkness in every human soul, so easily pulled towards evil. Heathcliff is very much not the hero, but the villain, a tortured soul who lashes out at the happiness of others because of his own pain.

What I’m basically trying to convey is that I loved the book and I went into it thinking I wouldn’t enjoy it at all. It’s a pity Emily Brontë died so young, having only written this book, as I cannot imagine what other masterpieces she would have written if she had published more.

Have you read Wuthering Heights or seen any of its adaptations? Would you be interested in reading it? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in you life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

12 thoughts on “Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

  1. Really interesting review, though I thought Nelly’s reasonableness when surrounded by such extremes of character hinted at her unreliability as a narrator. I’m re-reading it for the third time and I think a lot of people read it expecting a gothic love story and instead find a tale of obsession and revenge. I wish Emily had written more novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read the book twice. The first time I was in my 20s. I focused on the love aspect of the story. I read the story again somewhere around 50. I saw a different story. I saw the obsessive/mental instability aspect. I wish it were possible to ask Emily Bronte how she came to tell this story?

    Liked by 1 person

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