The Big Read

Books from School??? No.12 – Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

I’m not sure how to categorise this one because I was 15 when I read it but it wasn’t on the school curriculum. I read it the week that I did year 10 work experience and I felt very sophisticated sat in Starbucks on my lunch break reading Wuthering Heights.  To tell you the truth I finally read it after meaning to for a long time because it was mention in Twilight and I thought it would make me cool and sophisticated like Bella *cringes*. It actually had a rather adverse effect on my relationship with Twilight when I realised that it was just an enormous rip-off of Wuthering Heights among other classics. Plus as far as dark, brooding love stories go Twilight paled in comparison to this incredible Gothic novel.

Now I don’t really like romances (ignoring my slight teenage blip with Twilight) and I opened this book expecting it to be all star-crossed lovers and tragic heroes but I couldn’t have been more wrong. To start with the novel uses the classic embedded narrative of the Gothic style where the main narrative is recalled by a character in the framework narrative, other examples Frankenstein, The Canterbury Tales. So the first character we meet is this guy Mr Lockwood and we briefly follow his boring exploits of renting his country house then he visits his landlord and we finally meet infamous Heathcliff but he’s a old and not at all like the sexy Byronic hunk I was promised. And it is about here where most people give up on the story.

BUT PLEASE KEEP GOING. When Mr Lockwood returns to his home after a night troubled by the ghost of Cathy, he get’s his housekeeper Ellen Dean to tell him the story of Wuthering Heights and this is where things start to get good. There is so much more to this book than the romance. My reading of it is that it is predominately a social commentary and then there is the evil scheming. Heathcliff is motivated throughout the second half of the book by revenge and he does some really cruel things. He is utterly heartless at times and he completely uses and manipulates Isabella. He also becomes obsessed with being good enough for Catherine and part of that is to better his social status which he does by inheriting people’s property after he has ruined their lives.

Putting the story line aside you should carry on reading for the atmosphere. The Brontë sisters can evoke Yorkshire in a way which is to this day unrivalled. Emily especially, mingles the supernatural with the landscape to create, in my opinion, the greatest Gothic setting ever written. It was so shocking in fact the Charlotte toned it down when it was originally published in fear of the public’s reaction.

And if that wasn’t enough to get you to read past chapter 3 there is a healthy sprinkle of incest. Who could resist that?

Rating: 5/5

Would recommend to: anyone who thought Twilight was dark and mysterious.

 

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