Mini classic review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights is the tale of two families both joined and riven by love and hate. Cathy is a beautiful and wilful young woman torn between her soft-hearted husband and Heathcliff, the passionate and resentful man who has loved her since childhood. The power of their bond creates a maelstrom of cruelty and violence which will leave one of them dead and cast a shadow over the lives of their children. Emily Brontë’s novel is a stunningly original and shocking exploration of obsessive passion.

He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

Wuthering Heights is a classic novel that I think get misinterpreted by many. My impression before starting the novel was that it’s a tragic love story between Heathcliff and Cathy — what I found was a semi-horror story about one man’s quest for revenge against multiple generations of one family.

And honestly? I much prefer the latter.

No matter how much of a monster Heathcliff is, I was so thoroughly interested in him. In the first part of the novel, he certainly comes across as a typical romantic hero — he’s poor, mistreated and misunderstood, head-over-heels in love with a girl he can never have, and then finally leaves Wuthering Heights for years to make something of himself. But when he returns, it’s hard to view him as a hero; he truly becomes a monster — terrorising the very people (and their descendants) for the ways they treated him.

It’s difficult to parse through my feelings about Heathcliff, because while he was undoubtedly treated horrifically, his revenge against the Earnshaws goes beyond the people who mistreated him and turns outwards to their children. I think the main thing to remember while reading this novel is that no one is a good person, and a majority of them are incredibly selfish. And I think that’s what made Wuthering Heights such a compelling read for me.

Cathy, surprisingly, isn’t in the novel as much as I thought she would be. However, after she passes away (quite early in the story), her presence still haunts Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and several other characters. Her relationship with Heathcliff is so interesting in that they are obviously so toxic for one another, and their actions are self-destructive and co-dependant. It’s a really fascinating portrayal of “love”, the likes of which I haven’t read in a classics book before.

I definitely recommend reading this book! It enraptured me like few classics before it has.

2 thoughts on “Mini classic review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  1. Meeghan reads says:

    Laura, I feel like you have captured all of my thoughts about this book so eloquently. I wholeheartedly agree this book is more gothic horror than romance, and I don’t understand people who think this is a beautiful, yet tragic, love story.

    Liked by 1 person

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