Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My thoughts on Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights was a book that I was most anxious to read, and I won't hide the reason - I wanted to read it because of Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight Saga. Bella and Edward discuss Wuthering Heights a number of times, and even quote directly from the book. I felt like I was missing out on a huge piece of the story!

But this post won't be about Twilight and Wuthering Heights. I'm going to save that for another post. This post is going to be my thoughts on the book and my experience in reading it.

As with Pride and Prejudice, I found this book quite difficult when I began it. The hardest part for me was in understanding who was narrating the book, and trying to keep all the character's names straight! I found out, too late, that my book contains a family tree in the beginning. That would have been most helpful, though it would have given away the plot, so I'm not sure it would have been good to look at that first. Maybe I should have written my own family tree as I was reading? Then once I figured out who was narrating --- Ms. Bronte decides to shift and have someone else narrate!! Classic literature keeps you on your toes.

My second difficulty came with one of the character's dialect. Ms. Bronte wrote the dialogue for Joseph, the caretaker/preacher at Wuthering Heights, in such a dialect that I never could make heads or tails of it. I hope he didn't say anything incredibly important to the story. I could make out through the course of the story that he pretty much didn't like anybody, and he thought they were all going to H***.

I will admit to not liking the story one bit as I was reading through it. In fact, it wasn't until almost the end that I even began to enjoy it. Looking for quotes from Eclipse kept me going, as well as a deep desire to know the story for the sake of understanding Bella and Edward better. I did accomplish that, and I will get into the details in my next post. Suffice it to say that Catherine Earnshaw aggravated me in much the same way that Isabella Swan did!

Initially, the only character that I thought positively about was Nelly (Ellen), who served as narrator for the majority of the book. But then, the story is coming from her perspective, so she would naturally present herself in a good light. Also, her inability to stand firm in her beliefs, and her desire to make her young charges happy ended up contributing to the strife and discord in both families.

The ending was my absolute favorite. And if you haven't finished reading Wuthering Heights, you should stop reading here! I don't know if it was the characters themselves and their qualities which endeared me to them, or rather that it was the first bit of happiness that I came across in the entire book! And since I absolutely NEED a "Happily Ever After", I latched on to the two characters who seemed like they have a chance for it!

Here is one of my favorite parts, narrated by Mr. Lockwood:

"Con-trary!" said a voice as sweet as a silver bell - "That for the third time, you dunce! I'm not going to tell you again. Recollect, or I'll pull your hair!"
"Contrary, then," answered another, in deep but softened tones. "And now, kiss me for minding so well."
"No; read it over first correctly, without a single mistake."
The male speaker began to read: he was a young man respectably dressed and seated at a table, having a book before him. His handsome features glowed with pleasure, and his eyes kept impatiently wandering from the page to a small white hand over his shoulder, which recalled him by a smart slap on the cheek, whenever its owner detected such signs of inattention. Its owner stood behind; her light, shining ringlets blending, at intervals, with his brown locks, as she bent to superintend his studies; and her face - it was lucky he could not see her face, or he would never have been so steady. I could; and I bit my lip in spite, at having thrown away the chance I might have had of doing something besides staring at its smiting beauty.

OK, I should note here that I totally missed this reference to Mr. Lockwood having regretted missing an opportunity for love with Cathy!! I guess when I first read it, I was just so happy that SOMEONE was happy, I skimmed right over poor Mr. Lockwood's laments. But back to my favorite part:

The task was done, not free from further blunders; but the pupil claimed a reward, and received at least five kisses: which, however, he generously returned.

As a reader, my heart rejoiced to see some love and happiness amidst all the pain and suffering and anger and heartbreak seemed to envelope both of these families. I would like to think that they live Happily Ever After and break the cycle of hurt they grew up around. That they will have babies one day and those children will grow up around the Heights and frolick in the trees and the other places that Cathy loves so well to visit.

As a new writer, this book provoked many questions for me, which I will cover in another post as well.

Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading Wuthering Heights! I think it will be easier to re-read it another time because I know that there is happiness to be found at the end of the story. It was hard to read through the constant pain and anger, not knowing if this is all that this book has to offer.

And I'm very much looking forward to re-reading Eclipse at the end of the month, with this new perspective of having read Wuthering Heights and knowing all of the references Bella and Edward make about it!

I'd love to read your comments about this book! Please don't hesitate to leave a comment to my blog... I have them set to require approval, but I'm checking 2-3 times a day for replies!


Lisa said...

Well, as I mentioned to you, I haven't read Wuthering Heights, at least not in the last 25 years. And I don't have immediate plans to, although anything is possible. I like seeing how you work through the tough first reading of a difficult book. We've talked before about how differently we read and view reading, so I love to see other people's perspectives. When there's dialogue like that I often have to read it aloud. Doesn't make sense to me otherwise.

Sherry said...

Joseph was so hard to understand! And the initial narrator confused me, too. I didn't know who this fella was! It was such a dark story with so much pain. I read this book in high school and remembered that much. I had completely forgotten the happy ending, though. I don't know why that didn't stick with me - that light at the end. The people were all so flawed and even Nellie upset me with the way she didn't stand up to Heathcliff when he wanted to come see Cathy. But then, she KNEW him and knew what he was capable of and that he WOULD have his way. It was so tragic the way the women were so completely dependent on the men to support them and it really made them hostages of sorts. It will be interesting to re-read Eclipse now.