I recently finished Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte for a class. While reading it, I had to compose a “ghost chapter.” What I mean is, I wrote a chapter about something in that novel (perhaps a character’s mysterious leave or of something else left out in the book) that left the reader speculating what had happened. At the end of the this post, you can read my chapter about Heathcliff’s leave. First, however, I’m going to give you a (long needed) book review.
3=Good potential but bad presentation
4=Wonderful read but has a few flaws
I will grade the following: Plot, Characters, Scenery, Writing Style, and Overall. Caution! This will contain some major spoilers.
In the age of social class, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte tells something that could not be labeled as a mere love story. It has many layers: revenge, love, betrayal, and high society being the main examples. In the English moors, there are two families that are the focus of the novel: the Lintons (who reside at Thrushcross Grange) and the Earnshaws (who reside at Wuthering Heights). Catherine Earnshaw and Hindley Earnshaw are the children of Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw. When Mr. Earnshaw brings home a gypsie orphan boy, everything changes. Up until Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Hindley and the boy (Heathcliff) are enemies, and Heathcliff is the favorite of the family. He forms a unique bond with Catherine, a stubborn and dramatic girl. When the tables turn and Hindley is in charge, Heathcliff is forced to become a servant, and Catherine later marries Edgar Linton after Heathcliff disappears.
I explained the setup of the book above, but I’ll expand on the plot. I liked how the author kept you questioning and reading with her plot twists and deaths of the characters. The story, from afar, would be called a ruthless love story between two unlikely lovers, but it becomes deeper than that. Heathcliff loves Catherine to a degree that becomes obsessive, even thought she a married woman when he returns from his mysterious leave some three years later. He marries Edgar Linton’s sister to just to spite him, although Catherine is the one whom he loves. When Catherine later dies, she is all that fills his mind. He abuses his wife, Isabella Linton, until she escapes, and then he tries to force Catherine’s daughter to marry his own son. The writer is merciless as she twists the story so that the reader becomes disguised with characters and the way things are. I believe she produces the desired affect and keeps most readers horrified (in a way that keeps them interested). The two houses are a striking contrast at times, yet readers are surprised as they find many connections throughout the book that are cleverly placed.
Honestly, I despised most of the characters. Bronte wrote them so that it seemed there was hardly a good soul in the book. Catherine is a spoiled brat, Heathcliff is an obsessive psychopath, and Edgar Linton is a wimp. She forms the ‘love triangle’ well, but it’s hard to take the side of anyone in that situation. Young Cathy (Catherine Linton’s daughter) provides a ray of hope, but she too is not incredibly likable, to me. I say that Hareton Earnshaw (Hindley Earnshaw’s son) becomes likable as the book goes on. Mrs. Ellen Dean, the maid for Catherine, is the narrator of the story. Her deception makes you question her character. Hindley Earnshaw is a drunkard, and Joseph (a servant at Wuthering Heights) is barely understandable with his slang. The characters, however, were well thought out and very unique. I give Emily Bronte a 4.5 for that.
The setting of the novel is in England, and the surroundings consist of the haunting yet beautiful moors. The scenery creates a sense of isolation, and the beauty of the nature influences the characters when they travel in it. Heathcliff and Catherine, for example, grew close while out in the moors. Young Cathy traversed between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights for a time to visit her cousin, Linton Heathcliff, secretly. I give the scenery a 5.
Writing Style: 3.5
As a novel that was written so long ago, of course the style is old-timey and wordy. However, as I read, I got used to that part. In fact, descriptions were well written, although very long at times. I had a problem with the way she named her characters. Beside being similar to each other in the first place, the narrator would call one character by two or three names. For example, the maid was called “Nelly,” “Ellen,” and “Mrs. Dean.” For a reader, that can be very confusing, especially with the wordy writing. “Nelly” was the main narrator throughout the story, but the novel was written in a frame narrative style. I didn’t mind that, although I did not always like hearing from Nelly’s perspective, even though she was present during many of the events throughout the book. I would have loved to heard some from Catherine’s perspective and perhaps a less bias view of the some of the other characters. Overall, I give the writing style a 3.5.
With its twisted yet captivating story line, characters, and scenery, I give Wuthering Heights a 4.5 overall. It’s one of those books that makes you question motives and life in general. Once you finish it, it’s one you won’t soon forget, whether you loved it or hated it. Emily Bronte crafted a tale of revenge and love. You want to root for the strange love story of Heathcliff and Catherine, but most times you feel like you can’t. Death would not allow them to remain in peace, and the Lintons and Earnshaws are never the same when Heathcliff arrives. Catherine is stubborn, and Nelly is a faithful servant who means well but comes off as deceptive and annoying at certain times. Wuthering Heights is a story with an array of characters and deep plotline. Give it a try and see if you agree.
Here’s my ghost chapter I was talking about. It’s about when Heathcliff leaves Catherine shortly after she tells Nelly that Edgar Linton proposed to her. If you read it, please let me know what you think of this review and chapter in the comment section below.
I thought that I should write the events of my absence down. Perhaps, I will send it to Catherine, but I might burn it. Nevertheless, I will start the night of my leave.
The rain had soaked through my clothes, and leaves were stuck in my hair. I could see Gimmerton up ahead. The rain had slowed, but thunder still rumbled in the distance. The clouds periodically revealed the stars and acted as my sole guide. Still, I could hear Catherine’s words ringing in my ears. How could she marry that detestable Edgar? That slime, that wretch! No, the thought was too repulsive. I had to leave for a long while. If I saw her again, I would tell her that it was all for her; my departure, that is. But would she be even more transformed when I returned? I had heard most of the conversation she had had with Ellen, and the news of her possible marriage was quite shocking to me.
I came upon the main road and in the darkness stumbled into the village. I had quickly acquired a horse with half of the money I had in my pocket. As I rode away, I thought I caught a glimpse of that fool, Joseph. Surely they were searching for me, but they would have no luck. Careful that he did not catch sight of me, I rode promptly out of Gimmerton and down the main road. I knew naught where I was going, but I knew that it must be far away. I could not bear to be near that blasted Heights and that disgusting Hindley. First thing was first, however: I had to acquire a temporary job. I was determined to take my revenge upon Hindley and Edgar; a plan began to form in my mind.
I rode on for hours until I reached a bustling village, miles from Gimmerton. Then, I proceeded to find a suitable occupation. For a while, I was able to work for a blacksmith. Although the work was tiresome, my heart became as strong and black as the metal I worked with. As I pounded on the metal, I imagined the slab as Hindley’s miserable face. I portioned my wages and slept in the most uncomfortable quarters, but the thought of the future pulled me along like a piece of bait that teased me continually.
From village gossip I heard of a ship sailing to the coast of Canada. I decided that traveling might do me some good; the dock was not too far. The journey only took two days, and I soon found myself in a bustling port. I continued on to find my desired ship. It stood magnificent among the others; its mast billowed in the harsh wind. Carved on its stern was a beautiful woman. Her hair was curled around her slender, wooden face, and her lips were set in a determined expression.
Meeting one of the men who were to embark on the ship, I inquired if they might take me. After some haggling, I managed to get a job as one of the hands. Promptly at noon, the vessel set forth on its journey. At first, the days were routine. I worked vigorously, my skin tanning in the sun. I created a barrier between myself and the others. They teased me of my dark skin, at first. After teaching a few of them lessons, their scars told the others to leave me alone.
One day, I overhead the traders aboard the ship; they spoke of the cargo they carried and of the riches they planned on receiving. I smirked at their cockiness and almost laughed sardonically at their ways. They believed they were so refined and I a savage, when, in fact, they were the brutes and I their king. They just could not see it with their own eyes, yet. Upon overhearing two of them talking about playing a hand at cards, I jumped in an offered to play as well. They looked at me horridly, as if they had not even noticed my presence. Upon telling them they were too scared to play a black brute, they both insisted on my playing. Hiding a smile, I followed them to one of the rooms, along with a few other gentlemen. My companions explained my presence, and the others sneered at each other. They were convinced I would make a fool of myself. Well, I won every hand. Oh, how marvelous it was! I claimed my share of riches, and the bumbling fools did not know what to think. They threatened that they wouldn’t give me my reward, but I threatened to kill them all. Seeing the fire in my eyes, they reluctantly complied.
Their riches would sustain me a long while, that was sure. Those men had bet away a good portion of their gold and some of the goods that they had planned on selling. After this event, I would say that none of them talked to me again until we reached England once again, though I was greatly respected among the hands. Stepping off of that blasted ship was a great pleasure. I was glad to get away from the endless ocean and back to the countryside. I carried my bounty in sacks that my steed carried and in the folds of my pocketbook. Along the way, I purchased a new suit and bathed so that I might be presentable. I smirked with almost every step I took, thinking of the aghasted look that would pass Hindley’s face at my arrival.
Now, my candle is flickering beside me, and I must go to sleep. I’ll arrive at Gimmerton in the morning and proceed to the Heights where I might find Catherine again. She probably hasn’t thought of me a day, but I have thought of her every waking hour, and even in the confines of my twisted dreams.
While reading Wuthering Heights, be on the lookout for clues to our Quest for Publishment!
Until next time,