I first read Wuthering Heights my senior year of high school. In my AP Literature class, we had outside reading assignments every quarter, but we were allowed to choose the books. I chose Wuthering Heights, as did a few of my friends, because we had just read Pride and Prejudice that summer, and our teacher told us the books were similar. Eager for more lighthearted love stories, at least four of us took on Wuthering Heights for our first quarter’s outside reading. As we soon found out, it was nothing at all like Pride and Prejudice.
Today, for a little something different before I re-read and post about Wuthering Heights for real (now that I’m so much older and enlightened…*cough*), I’m treating you to my seventeen-year-old’s thrashing of the book. If it seems a little weirdly academic, that’s because this is my one-page reflection that I had to hand in at the end of the quarter. Enjoy:
First of all, this book hardly met my expectations. I had hoped it would be like Pride and Prejudice, a summer-reading book that I actually enjoyed. However, I didn’t find Wuthering Heights to be like Pride and Prejudice in the least, and certainly not any better. Wuthering Heights is repetitive and boring, and I felt like nothing of importance or consequence happened the entire time. I sensed neither rising nor falling action, and I certainly could not find a climax among the meaningless events that comprised this story.
A large part of the downfall of Wuthering Heights stems from its lack of loveable—or even likeable—characters. There wasn’t even a villain that the reader could “love to hate.” At least some of the characters in Pride and Prejudice were likeable, like Jane, Elizabeth, Bingley, and Mr. Darcy, and Mrs. Bennet was laughably detestable. Personally, I found it extremely difficult to like any character in Wuthering Heights, other than Hareton, Edgar Linton, and Nelly. Even those few I didn’t have any real affection for as I did for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I suppose you could say I hated those three characters the least out of all of them. I just couldn’t stand the others. Catherine the first is completely unbearable, and never appreciated the love and affection Edgar bestowed on her. Heathcliff is just a terrible person from the beginning, once Old Mr. Earnshaw spoiled him rotten. His only redeeming quality is the passionate, undying love he possessed for Catherine, although I don’t understand what would prompt him to love her so, other than the fact that she was his only friend when they were children. Isabella had absolutely no sense whatsoever, a senselessness that manifested itself when she married Heathcliff. I was able to feel some pity for her, though, because she honestly had no idea what she was getting herself into. Her son, Linton, was a despicable crybaby, and I don’t understand how Catherine Linton could ever love him when all he would do was complain. Joseph was also completely unbearable, and I couldn’t understand why, since everyone hated him so much, they didn’t just throw him out. What a detestable old man. He didn’t even have any redeeming qualities. I felt bad for Hindley in the beginning of the book, when Heathcliff first came to live with the Earnshaws and quickly became Mr. Earnshaw’s favorite, but as time progressed and Hindley became an irritable drunkard I felt less and less pity for him. Even the narrator, Mr. Lockwood, seemed to possess no good qualities; it was apparent from the beginning that he is arrogant and haughty, not to mention self-righteous.
On the whole, I highly regret choosing Wuthering Heights as this quarter’s outside reading assignment. I could barely keep my attention on it long enough to scribble something down on the page. It was rare that I could find something poignant to write about, seeing as the entire work seemed remarkably free of any semblance of moving literary devices. Admittedly, there were blocks of extended, cerebral metaphors that, while they were pleasant and interesting to read, seemed to have no real influence on the story as a whole. Overall, I found Wuthering Heights to be a substantial waste of time and I would not recommend it to anyone who likes to stay awake while they read.
I should perhaps also include my friend Alison’s response to my paper (I not only handed it in, but posted it on livejournal back when it was still cool):
Mine’s something along those lines. I really want to add “in conclusion, I feel that, after reading this book, my life is a little worse than it was before, and I have you to thank.”
So, understandably, I am a little wary of re-reading this. But I’m looking forward to hopefully not hating it as much as I did the first time around! Wish me luck! 🙂