Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte : Book Review

Wuthering Height book rating
Rating: Wuthering Height by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights is a novel by Emily Bronte, published in 1847 under the false name “Ellis Bell”. It is her only completed work of fiction before she died in 1848. At the time, the book met with a lot of controversies due to its stark depiction of physical and mental cruelty.

 Wuthering Heights also challenged Victorian ideas about religion, morality, and the place and societal status of women. Now, it is considered as one of the best classics ever to be written. The novel has inspired many adaptations, including film, radio, TV drama, a musical, a ballet, operas and even a hit song.

About the Author:

Emily Bronte - Author
Author: Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte was born on 30th July 1818 to a curate of Haworth, Yorkshire. Her mother died when she was five years old, leaving five daughters and one son. In 1824, their family sent Emily and her sisters to Cowan Bridge, a school for Clergymen’s daughters.

There are two of her sisters, Maria and Elizabeth caught tuberculosis and died. After that, the children were home-schooled. To while away their time, they would write stories together. Emily worked as a teacher for a brief amount of time but later returned home. 

‘Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell’, a collection of poems by Emily and her sisters, was published in 1846. The following year Wuthering Heights was published. The author; Emily Bronte died of consumption in 1848.

Book Review of Wuthering Heights

The story is set in the late 1700 and early 1800 Yorkshire moors. It revolves around two families living in the fictional estates of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange – The Earnshaws and The Lintons.

Two families completely secluded and isolated from the traditional rules of civilisation. These families are connected by love so fierce and harsh it will leave one of them dead and cast a shadow over the lives of their children.

This Bronte novel might not be for everyone; you’ll either come to love it with all your being or hate it in the same way. There is no in-between. But what Bronte has accomplished is no simple task.

With this story of Wuthering Heights, she destroyed all unrealistic expectations of relationships. She showed the world that love could be obsessive and obstructive like two entwined vines covered in thorns hurting everything around it.

Wuthering Heights book Insights
Wuthering Heights book Insights

The Author created the first and the finest anti-hero in Heathcliffe and showed that revenge and selfishness would eat you from the inside. 

List of Characters in Wuthering Heights:

Before we move on to the detailed review, let me first familiarise the main characters. This is going to be confusing, but try to stay with me on this.

Mr Lockwood – He is the tenant that rents Thrushcross Grange.

Ellen Nelly Dean – Nelly is our narrator and head housekeeper of Wuthering Heights. The master raised her along with the main characters Catherine, Hindley, and Heathcliff. More than a servant, she was part of the family and took great measures to try to keep them together.

Catherine Linton (born Earnshaw) – She is our female protagonist. A very dramatic, selfish, mean, I’d-rather-die-than-face-my-problems sort of girl. She befriends the orphan boy new to the family, falls in love with him only to marry the rich guy from across the moors.

Heathcliff – The anti-hero of the story. He is the orphan taken in by Mr.Earnshaw but grows up to be a cruel, violent man set on making everyone’s lives miserable.

Hindley Earnshaw – Catherine’s brother and Heathcliff’s arch-nemesis.

Isabella and Edgar Linton – The Lintons is the family residing in Thrushcross Grange. Though Isabella’s character is not that deep, we know that she loves easily and is very fond of her brother. Edgar is one of the very few kind ones to live out his life on the dark moors. After befriending, he later marries Catherine.

Catherine Cathy Linton – The innocent, radiant and adorable little child of Catherine and Edgar Linton. Not to give any spoilers but she is the one of two that survives without turning into a beast.

Hareton Earnshaw – Hindley’s son and the first child born into the brutal, tough family of the Earnshaws. Ellen took care of him briefly after he was born before Catherine took her to the Grange. After Hindley’s death, Heathcliff was the only one left for him to look up to. Even though he is rough and rude, he has a kind heart and gets his happily-ever-after.

Linton Heathcliff – The sick and weak but self-centred, brattish son of Isabella and Heathcliff.

Joseph – A redundant, fanatically religious, elderly servant of Wuthering Heights.

Plot of the Story:

The book starts with the arrival of Mr.Lockwood at Wuthering Heights. The instant he passes through the gates, he realises that the people living there are no kind souls. He first encounters Mr. Heathcliff and Joseph. 

Being an introvert himself, he thought he and Heathcliff would get along fine. He is also introduced to Cathy Heathcliff, the wife of Heathcliff’s late son and Hareton Earnshaw.

Mr. Lockwood realizes that even though the occupants of the Heights are a family, there is no love among them. Only hatred and spite. He later asks the housekeeper of Thrushcross Grange, the house he rented, to tell him their story.

Mrs. Dean proved to be a very talented storyteller, narrating the story with the finest of details. A story filled with angst and sadness, you can’t help feeling sorry for all the characters.

Mr. Earnshaw, Catherine’s and Hindley’s father, on returning from a business trip, brings home a boy from the streets and raises him as his own. Jealous of his father’s love for the orphan, christened Heathcliff, Hindley tortured him for the longest part of his childhood. His only friend was Catherine. But being a selfish, wild, self-centered girl herself, Heathcliff was a lost cause. He falls obsessively in love with Catherine.

In the event of Catherine marrying another man, he felt betrayed and hurt and ran away.

Wuthering-Heights-book
Wuthering Heights book

He returns three years later with a vicious plan to take revenge on Hindley. He ends up being the man hated by everyone and loved by no one except for Catherine.

An insight into the story:

Heathcliff and Catherine’s love affair is an epic story that will destroy every girl’s fantasy. who doesn’t want to be loved as fiercely as Heathcliff does Catherine.

But their love is a narcissistic, obsessive, self-obstructive and imminently cruel relationship that is based not on passion but borders on hatred. Bronte has written the characters as selfish, violent, and contriving people who have suffered their share of abuses (Heathcliff more than others) that they have no compunction about raining similar abuses on to the people they think are beneath them.

Given this dynamic, they have not only accomplished to make their own lives miserable but also everyone else’s. They need not even be present for their influence to affect others adversely.  Bronte has even personified nature by making the moors a reflection of their miserable lives.

The author has done wonders by creating these characters and their children, who have to carry the sins of their fathers and make amends on their own. This is no lovey-dovey feel-good story. The Wuthering Heights shows the harsh nature of people without veiling anything to make the reader feel good. Instead, it will leave you hurt and craving for the redemption of these characters.

What I loved about the book:

Wuthering Heights book cover
Wuthering Heights book cover

The writing is so powerful that it has made me want to throw the book across the room every time Heathcliff feels bad and takes his anger out on his fellow residents. But at the same time, it has me feeling sorry for him and other characters and hope with every part of my book-loving self that he redeems himself and turns over a new leaf. Every death, every birth, every small sliver of happiness the characters feel, everything they are made to endure by the wonderful penmanship of Emily Bronte takes my breath away in ways I didn’t even know existed.

What I didn’t like in Wuthering Heights

One name – Joseph. As a reader, coming across new words is a wonderful feeling. But trying to read a dialect so awfully written and fail at it is just … well, awful.  Not a word Joseph says is understandable and neither is it necessary to the story. Emily could’ve avoided that even though it adds a nice touch to the classic genre this book belongs to.

Suggestions for the reader:

Be prepared to have your heart ripped out or hate it just as much. As I’ve said before, it is not for everyone. Wuthering Heights is widely praised. Also criticized at the same time for its very violent nature. The book is not for that faint of heart. It is about violent men and women trying to escape their wrath. But it is also about love and family.

If you fall into the former category though, I assure you, you will not put the book down unless it is over. You’ll feel as if you are part of that world too. Once it is over you will feel a sense of peace so serene you’ll be craving to go back.

So grab some tissues, sit by the window and dive into the world of Catherines and Heathcliffs and Lintons and learn to love them and hate them all at the same time as I’ve come to do. Even better if it starts to rain.

Like it? Explore more Romance Books.

Some Best quotes from Wuthering Heights

 “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightening, or frost from fire.”

“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.”

“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”

“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”

“Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.”

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