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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Wuthering Heights by Emily Jane Brontë (1847)


Wuthering Heights is the wild and passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley. Wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, he leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

Author: Emily Jane Brontë was born on July 30, 1818 in the village of Thornton. She was the fifth of six children of an Irish priest of the Church of England. She lost her mother as a child. Emily had a strong personality, she was independent and loved solitude and was very attracted to the supernatural. As children, the Brontë sisters had creative games and as they grew up this evolved into a ritual, with each of them taking care of their respective novel every evening. This is how Emily Brontë wrote her first and only novel “Wuthering Heights”, published under the male pseudonym Ellis Bell. She died shortly afterwards of tuberculosis at the age of 30 years.

My thoughts: I read this great novel just before Christmas and I loved it. I came across a brilliant review of it looking at Brian’s “Babbling books” blog and felt intrigued by this classic masterpiece.

From the start, we are immersed in an oppressive atmosphere, whether as a result of the nature of the surroundings or because of the characters and the feelings they exhibit. The novel begins with the narrator, Mr. Lockwood. He visits Heathcliff in his imposing home, Wuthering Heights, in order to rent Thrushcross Grange, of which Heathcliff is the owner. From there, we begin to be introduced to each of the characters. Just like Mr. Lockwood, we are curious to comprehend Heathcliff, his history and that of those around him.
Mrs. Dean, the housekeeper at Thrushcross, tells Mr. Lockwood the history of Heathcliff’s life. Heathcliff was a small boy when he was rescued from famine and poverty by Mr. Earnshaw during a visit to Liverpool. The latter took Heathcliff, aged six, to his home as a “gift” for his two children, Catherine and Hindley. At the beginning Heathcliff was badly accepted by Catherine and Hindley. But little by little, Catherine and the adopted “poor” boy Heathcliff became friends and accomplices. But this was not the case with Hindley, who humiliated Heathcliff. When they grow up, Catherine and Heathcliff fall in love, but, alas, Catherine opted for a marriage of reason, in order to eventually help find a good social status for Heathcliff.  The latter was shattered to overhear unflattering half confidences concerning him that Catherine shared with their maid, Mrs. Dean (aka Nelly). On a whim, he disappeared and upon his return several years later he was rich, resentful and determined to make everyone pay for the hurt he had suffered.
Towards the end of the book, it is Mr. Lockwood who tells us the saga of this family and its descendants. We learn what fate was reserved for Heathcliff, his nephews and his son.

We are caught in a spider’s web, trapped, like these characters. The heaviness of the atmosphere is suffocating. The life of these characters is a combination of circumstances, a vicious circle. Their strings are pulled by a manipulative and abusive man, a man of few feelings, Heathcliff. It is with these simple words that I summarise this masterpiece. It is brilliantly written with elegance and a touch of black British humour. When I think that it was a young writer who wrote it, I am amazed by her ability to describe the human soul so accurately, in all its psychological ambivalence. I have to admit that this is not an easy read.

28 comments:

  1. Another great review!!  I’ve heard a lot about this book and I’m really excited to read it, especially because of its comparisons to Jane Eyre, which is one of my favourite books! This sounds like a fascinating read.
    Thanks for the recommendation, I will try to visit that blog when I have a spare moment.

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    1. Dear Rebecca! Once you have read WH, I would be interested to know which of the two you prefer: Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. I've never read Jane Eyre, but I intend to do so. I have seen three film versions of the romantic novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. My favourite version is the one with Michael Fassbender and Judi Dench. The one with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt is not bad, too. Charlotte is perfect in her role. Thank you very much for your interesting thoughts :)

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  2. Did they make this into a movie many years back? The name sounds familiar.

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  3. I only watched the movie based on this book, I suppose however, is the more details there than in the filming.

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    1. I'm afraid I've never seen a film based on the book : )

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  4. Excellent review, ma belle ! Mais je ne suis pas tentée par cette histoire. Ça m'a l'air d'être une atmosphère trop oppressante. Gros bisous  <333

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    1. Salut chère Chantal, je te comprends parfaitement bien. Je pense que tu l'aurais pas aimé! Bises :)

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  5. Enquanto estiver a ler ponha a tocar Kate Bush.
    A melodia com o mesmo título.

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    1. Aqui no blog escrevo somente sobre livros que já li e não sobre livros que pretendo ler :)
      Isto dito, eu sou fã incondicional da Kate Bush.

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  6. Ironically, despite having been bombarded with tales of the Brontë sisters and their unfortunate brother Branwell as a child, I have never read Wuthering Heights. I have seen a couple of film adaptations, including an almost ludicrously moody BBC version in black and white. I must take the time to read the book which I am sure is infinitely better. Thanks for reminding me.

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    1. Cresta Bear! Sir, how is this possible?? Honestly, it's a sacrilege.... Hahaha... Seriously, we're all the same. I, too, do not know the great works of my country's authors, but I could talk to you about many classics of foreign literature. Horrible, isn't it? On another note, I have seen three film versions of Jane Eyre, but none of Wuthering Heights. Thank you so much for your kind words and for your opinion :)

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  7. Brilliant review! I read WH when I was in my teens and despite my love of all things angst back then, I disliked this novel. I think you have to go into this story, knowing it’s going to be tormented and that you’re going to dislike all characters.

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    1. Dear Charles, what I know is that WH is a much darker, wilder and more disturbing tale than Jane Eyre. I think Wuthering Heights is a brilliant novel. The main character, Heathcliff is definitely not a hero and there's lots of wildness involved. That said, at times I found WH a difficult read. I really had to concentrate and I often found myself going backwards and forwards to remember who is who. All in all, I loved it, but I wouldn't read it twice.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, I really appreciate it :)

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  8. Thanks for the mention.

    This is superb commentary on this book. The descriptors that you use, "demonic", "oppressive", "trapped" are perfect and they say so much about the book itself.

    I agree, the work is not an easy read and Bronte's ability to understand and describe a certain type of person is extraordinary.

    Have a great week!

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    1. It is my absolute pleasure, Brian!! Thank you for taking the time to read the post and to share your feedback with us. I really appreciate it :)

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  9. I agree with your description of the book. I remember reading it for school so long ago and it was too dark for me. It helps to know what you're going into. I just finished reading the latest book in a series by Charles Finch (the Charles Lenox mysteries) and they are so good. It's such a great feeling to find/enjoy a really excellent book!

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    1. I have never heard of Charles Finch before (the Charles Lenox mysteries). Thank you very much for your suggestion. I will conduct a prompt and effective investigation... hahahaha...
      Monica, I totally agree with you, that is why, I only read the ones I fell in love with. Have a great day dear :)

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  10. Es un genial libro , te mando un beso

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    1. Gracias por tu mensaje, Judith. Un beso :)

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  11. Can you believe I have never read this famous classic? I used to be afraid of scary books and I think this one sounds very scary. But I am not afraid any more so it is time to read it. I loved your review. It really set the scene.

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    1. Good Lord, Judy! How is this possible?? Honestly, it's a sacrilege.... hahaha...
      Oh no you're too cute Judy. Honestly, I know that you will read it without any worries, because you have read darker psychological stories. But I really think you won't like it. Thank you very much for your compliment, it touches me all the more because English is not my first language.

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  12. Nunca li nada desta escritora e poetisa inglesa.
    Um abraço e continuação de boa semana.
    Andarilhar || Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa || Livros-Autografados

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    1. Esta jovem escritora inglesa apenas escreveu este extraordinário livro. Ela morreu pouco depois do livro ser publicado. Mas tenho a certeza que você já ouviu falar das irmãs Brontë.

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  13. A grand old classic; time for me to read it again, I think.

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    1. Glad to hear you've read this old classic book :)

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  14. Creio ter visto o filme... baseado nesta obra!
    O livro não o li! Mas o nome da autora... só o consigo associar a algo que já assisti, ou em cinema ou televisão...
    Mas como os filmes sempre ficam muito aquém da obra original... deve ser mesmo uma fantástica sugestão de leitura...
    Beijinhos
    Ana

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    1. Eu por acaso, não vi nenhum filme baseado na obra. Penso que a Ana já ouviu falar das irmãs Brontë. Pois, o livro Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brontë (irmã da Emely), foi várias vezes adaptado ao cinema. Beijinhos.

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