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Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Mr. Lockwood is the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange. Living nearby is the harsh enigmatic landlord Heathcliff in a place known as   Wuthering Heights. While visiting Heathcliff and staying overnight, Mr. Lockwood stumbles upon an old journal that belongs to a woman named Catherine Earnshaw. Later that night, Mr. Lockwood sees Catherine’s ghost begging him, “Let me in! Let me in!” Once Heathcliff finds out, he has an emotional fit of grief. Disturbed yet curious, Mr. Lockwood asks the servant Ms. Dean about Heathcliff’s history and is told a tale of love and vengeance.

One of the best things about this book is the complexity of the main characters Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Of the two, Heathcliff is  the most intriguing. He is connected to everything and everyone including Wuthering Heights, the families, the weather, and the novel’s themes. Heathcliff is vindictive, selfish, and cold. Yet, he is also a little forgiving, compassionate, and emotional when it comes to Catherine Earnshaw, the one person he loves and cares about.

With Catherine Earnshaw, she is harder to feel sorry for than Heathcliff. For the most part, she is melodramatic and childish. However, this is only her outward appearance. On the inside, there is a level of introspection that only deep or critical thinkers will notice and understand. These moments are seen when Catherine voices them aloud. Most people remember Catherine for lines like, “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” I do too, but a line that made me finally pity Catherine hit me hard: “I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to always be there: not seeing it dimly through tears and yearning through the walls of an aching heart but really with it, and in it.” It was this line that made me think, “If only Catherine Earnshaw had Jane Eyre’s courage to always speak what was on her heart.”

Another powerful aspect of the book are its themes. Some include vengeance, social class prejudice, and seclusion. The fact that they were shown through actions and not simply told through words made them memorable. My favorite themes are what I call the value of a  person’s status vs the value of a person’s soul. It is these  that form the central argument of the book. Is one worth more than the other? Or, should the two balance each other out?

The last bit of praise is for Emily Bronte’s writing style. Sometimes, certain lines like the ones already mentioned were poetic and beautiful. Other times, they were thoughtful. A line that rings true for the book and real life is, “We do sometimes pity creatures that have none of the feeling for themselves or others.”

Overall, Wuthering Heights is a compelling novel. I recommend it to any gothic literature fan or anyone who’s ever wondered why people turn out the way they do.

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Written by Serena Zola

October 19, 2012 at 7:44 PM

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