Book Review | Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
I fucking hate Wuthering Heights. I was asked to not use too much profanity in this post, so from now on if I write “freak” please know that I really mean a different F-word.
Now before we begin: I hated this book so much that I refused to re-read it prior to writing this, so if I have muddled up the plot at all, I apologize ahead of time and will gladly be straightened out by any commenters that would like to assist. Secondly: If you love this book, please do not hate me for hating it. I know all too well how personally an attack against one’s favorite book can feel, so please know that I do not hold it against you if you love this book. …But if you really think Heathcliff is a romantic ideal, we might have some problems.
A few years ago I got on a “Reading the Classics” kick, which basically meant reading a bunch of books by dead people that were assigned reading at some point in life but that I had Cliff-Noted my way through.
I chose Wuthering Heights because it kept popping up in my Pinterest searches for “Book Weddings.” (I had a book-themed wedding. It was awesome.) That “our souls are made of the same stuff” (I’m paraphrasing terribly) quote was all over the site, so I thought “hmm… Heathcliff sounds cool, people are really into him, and a woman, Emily Bronte, wrote this book! I love women authors!”
And thus I started on the worst reading experience of my life.
Where should I begin? I mean I honestly freaking hated every minute of reading it. My partner would come to bed and see me reading on my iPhone, the screen lighting up my glaring face. “Are you still reading Wuthering Heights? Why? You hate it so much!” To which I would respond, “Because I have to. I can’t let it beat me!”
But I should have given up.
I don’t feel bad giving away spoilers because this book is old as freak. There is a servant guy, Joseph, and he speaks in some unintelligible accent. This would be fine except Bronte wrote how he would sound, so it was freaking frustrating to read/decipher/translate what he said, and I found myself dreading the paragraphs of him speaking.
Then there was the moor itself.
It seems like every character in this book at one point or another threw themselves upon the moor.
If I ever travel to a moor, I will need to fling myself onto it to see the appeal. Seriously, every freaking character flung themselves on the mother-freaking moor. It was ridiculous and overly melodramatic.
But the true sources of my intense dislike of Wuthering Heights are the freaking characters, especially Heathcliff. Tragic hero my ass! Heathcliff is a freaking jerk.
I get it Heathcliff, as a kid you’re taken in by this guy who thinks you’re super awesome, but his wife doesn’t trust you one bit, and your step brother (ish?) is a super big jerk to you. And then the guy and his wife both die, and your mean step brother is in charge and is still mean. But that doesn’t mean you get to grow up to be a freaking awful human being!
And trust me, Heathcliff is a freaking awful person. (Side note: feel free to start a tally on characters that die! We are already at 2.)
When the woman Heathcliff loves, Catherine, ends up marrying someone else, Heathcliff freaking seduces her husband’s sister, Isabella, even though he doesn’t care for her. And then he makes Isabella’s life freaking miserable, all to get back at her brother for marrying Catherine!
That’s really soap opera-esque and seriously freaked up.
(That substitution of freak didn’t work so well, but you catch my drift.)
Heathcliff abuses his wife, Isabella, to the point where she gets pregnant and then escapes from him by fleeing across the moor, which is apparently endless and super depressing and dangerous. You may have already guessed, but Isabella dies (so 3 dead so far) and their son, Linton, ends up ultimately being raised by Heathcliff. And somehow Heathcliff raising the son his wife didn’t want him to have anything to do with does not work out.
But Heathcliff isn’t the only jerkface in this book. The son of the man who took Heathcliff in as a child, so Heathcliff’s stepbrother of sorts, Hindley is terrible too. He immediately hates Heathcliff for no reason, and then bullies him relentlessly. Hindley finally goes away, gets married, and has a son named Hareton, but when he returns he’s still a jerk. Then his wife freaking dies (4) and he becomes a hardcore gambler and alcoholic and tries to kill Heathcliff at one point. Classy freaking gent, folks. So Hindley and Hareton and Heathcliff all wind up living together and Heathcliff is a jerk to Hareton, basically treating him as a servant and teaching him terrible habits. (I will go into the terribleness of character names soon).
Catherine was also not a good person. She knowingly led on both Heathcliff and her husband, and refused to let either one go. To the point where she is freaking buried between the two men! And there were other things that made me really dislike her character but I don’t remember specifics beyond she seemed very cruel much of the time.
What else…oh yeah! There is also a freaking Catherine and a freaking Cathy, and since everyone spent the novel making everyone else miserable, I got them mixed up more than once. Cathy, the daughter of Catherine (who Heathcliff loved and who, of course, died (5)), one day meets Heathcliff. And Heathcliff is like “oh man, I need to figure out a way to continue ruining her father’s life.”
And so he freaking holds Cathy captive in his stupid house.
And then Cathy finds out that her dad is dying, because why the freak not?! But Heathcliff won’t let her go visit him AND he forces her to marry his own jerkface son, Linton, who dies basically right after she finally escapes (6). Because everyone in this book dies!
And yes, everyone freaking dies in this book. It was ridiculous. Ugh.
Besides the characters actions, their names were also the freaking worst. There is a Catherine and a Cathy, along with a family with the last name of Linton, and a character with the first name of Linton. The maid Nelly is called Ellen depending on who is speaking with her, and between Hareton, Hindley and Heathcliff there were too many H names to keep straight, especially when they were all being jerkfaces to one another.
I powered through this entire novel because I am stubborn and refused to give up.
This book drained all my energy and made me grumpy as freak while reading it. Having read Wuthering Heights in its entirety it truly concerns me that people view Heathcliff as a romantic hero. I even tried watching a film version of Wuthering Heights to see if it would change my views on Heathcliff. But I fell asleep probably 15 minutes in- in my defense I was sick- and it did not help at all.
Thanks for reading this long post. I’ve needed to get all this off my chest for quite a while. Now you all know my truth: I freaking hate Wuthering Heights. So, so much. And yes, I feel slightly bad hating such a beloved, classic book…but not badly enough to ever change my opinion of it.
Is there a book you’ve read that brought you zero joy and all the feelings of hate, along with possibly a string of expletives?
Maybe you were stubborn, like me, and read it all the way through, or maybe you were smart and bailed ship.
Tell me all about it, because I feel your pain.