Book Review: Wuthering Heights

WUTHERING HEIGHTS | Emily Brontë
Penguin Deluxe Edition | 08.25.2009 (original published in December 1847)
Rating: 4/5 stars

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Wuthering Heights is a tumultuous ride through the life of Heathcliff, the Earnshaw family, and the Linton family. The story begins in the present (year 1801) with a new tenant, Mr. Lockwood, staying at Thrushcross Grange. He wanders over to meet his neighbors at Wuthering Heights and here comes across the master, Heathcliff. He is immediately taken aback by the man and the occupants of his house. Lockwood is drawn to the situation and desiring to know more he pushes his housekeeper, Ellen Dean, to fill him in. Mrs. Dean is unable to start anywhere but when Heathcliff was a young child, discovered by the then master of Wuthering Heights, Mr. Earnshaw, and brought to live with the Earnshaw family.

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He shall never know I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same.

Mrs. Dean reveals that Heathcliff was desperately in love with Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter, Catherine. They had an intense and disastrous love affair, which was cut short by Heathcliff overhearing that Catherine planned to marry the neighbor’s well-to-do son, Edgar Linton. Prior to this devastating news, Heathcliff was able to overcome his repressed life at the hands of the Hindley Earnshaw, who took over as master after his father passed. Heathcliff disappears for many years, only to one day reappear as a wealthy man and takes up residence at Wuthering Heights. The current occupants of Hindley and his son, Hareton, are at the mercy of Heathcliff, who will stop at nothing to inflict revenge on the people who ruined his life.

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If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.

Heathcliff launches into a lengthy, diabolical plan to destroy the Earnshaw and Linton families. He has vowed to stop at nothing to rectify the wrongs he feels were done to him. Brontë creates an intense and often violent setting for all of the characters involved. The setting of the story lends itself to the desperate and lonely existence surrounding the residents of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Eventually the story ends a year after Mr. Lockwood’s original request for the history of these homes, with a surprising twist of fate. My only issue with this novel was the servant Joseph’s speaking parts. I found it incredibly hard to understand his portrayed accent and typically skipped through these parts to avoid attempting to decipher the words. Brontë has truly written a masterpiece of romance, violence, despair, and the debris left over from the path of these emotions.

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I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.

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