Writer: Emily Brontë (1818-1848)
It is published again by Wolters-Noordhoff in the series Young Blackbirds of
1995 in Holland. Each year they publish about four or five old famous books
from well known English/American writers.
Wuthering Heights is the name of the house which the Earnshaws build in 1500.
'Wuthering' is a local word, used to describe the wildness of the weather in
this lonely part of Yorkshire in time of storm. 'Heights' means the house was
on the hills. Wuthering Heights is one of the houses where the story is set.
The narrator of the story begins to tell it in November 1801 and finishes the
story in September 1802.
The actual story Mrs Dean tells about Heathcliff takes place between 1771 and
There are flashbacks used, because Mrs Dean tells the whole story to Mr
Lockwood. To be able to tell a story to someone, the events have to have
The story is a love-drama, since the main character Heathcliff is not able to
obtain the love of his life. Because of this his life is miserable and he
dies in misery.
About the author:
Emily Brontë was a member of a very unusual family who lived in the early
part of the 19th century in a village in Northern England where their father
was the vicar. Two of her sisters died as children, and her only brother died
when he was just over 30; the three remaining sisters all became famous
writers. Her only novel, Wuthering Heights, which was criticised severely
when it was published, is now considered one of the most important and
original English novels of the 19th century.
As children, the sisters had very little contact with other families outside
the village; they spend much of their time walking on the surrounding moors.
They and their brother made stories for each other of imaginary people living
in imaginary countries who did wild and exiting things; this imaginary world,
which became a way escaping from the village in which they lived, was
especially important for Emily, even when she was an adult. Another way of
escaping from the dull real world was through reading; because they had few
chances of seeing new books, most of the novels and poetry they read had been
written earlier in the century, when writers put great importance on feelings
(especially powerful and dramatic feelings) and on nature (especially wild
and beautiful nature).
Their own novels were influenced by the books they had read and the stories
they had invented as children; they were very different from the other, more
'polite' novels being written in the 1840's, and although early critics
agreed that Wuthering Heights was very powerful, they also describe this as
rough and disgusting. When it became known that the novel had been written by
a woman (Emily published it under another name) it was considered especially
The Plot and Theme
The two houses, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, are presented as
complete opposites: Wuthering Heights is high on the wild moor, attacked by
wind and weather, and furnished plainly and simply; the characters who live
there are rough and wild. Thrushcross Grange lies in the valley sheltered
from storms, and is furnished splendidly and expensively; the characters who
live there are tame and sometimes weak.
The story begins when Mr Lockwood visits his landlord, Mr Heathcliff. He
introduces the reader to the characters and the circumstances of the moment.
After a second visit to Mr Heathcliff he falls ill and spends his time
listening and writing down the story his housekeeper tells him about the
history of the strange happenings at Wuthering Heights.
When Catherine's father (Mr. Earnshaw, the old master of Wuthering heights)
went to Liverpool he asked his children what they wanted to have. Catherine
asked for a whip and Hindley asked for a fiddle.
But three days later Mr. Earnshaw returned with a broken fiddle and without a
whip, he only had a little boy, who was just big enough to "walk and talk".
He was called Heathcliff, Mr. Earnshaw and Catherine liked Heathcliff very
much but Hindley hated him.
Catherine taught Heathcliff all she knew and worked or played with him in the
Heathcliff was a patient, unsmiling child. So, from the beginning, Heathcliff
caused a bad feeling in the house.
Two years later Mr. Earnshaw died so Hindley became master of Wuthering
Heights. And Heathcliff and Hindley became enemies more and more.
When Catherine and Heathcliff were playing, she got wounded. Because the dog
had hurt her ankle, Catherine stayed with the Lintons at Thrushcross Grange
for five weeks. The Lintons were a very decent family, while Catherine didn't
care about anything and just played everywhere she wanted. They taught her to
act like a real lady, instead of running in the fields and doing dirty work,
so she returned as a different person.
Edgar Linton and Catherine became lovers. Catherine knew she was doing the
wrong thing when she accepted Edgar in marriage. Because she still liked
Heathcliff, the fact is that she actually loved Heathcliff. She married Edgar
because she thought that if she would marry Heathcliff, they would be
beggars. But when she would marry Edgar, she could help Heathcliff to rise in
life, and could place him out of her brother's power.
Because Catherine had accepted to marry Edgar, Heathcliff ran away. He
returned after a couple of years. To come back into Catherine's life he
flirted with Isabella (Edgar's sister).
Catherine fell ill, since she was still in love with him and seeing him in
loving somebody else hurt her feelings. Catherine died after she had given
birth to a seven months old baby-girl: Catherine (Cathy).
Isabella, who got married to Heathcliff in the mean time, ran away. She beard
a child, which she called Linton. After that Isabella died Heathcliff
reclaimed his son. He wanted Cathy and Linton to marry. Years later he
succeeded by forcing Cathy into the marriage. When her father was seriously
ill, she accepted the marriage to be able to return to her father. Because if
Cathy didn't marry Linton she would never see her father again.
After her marriage to Linton, Catherine suffered a lot by Heathcliff. Even
after Linton's death she was still tormented by Heathcliff.
''What makes you stare at me with those eyes? down with them! I thought I had
cured you of laughing.''
Her sufferings ended when Heathcliff died. After his death Catherine and
Hareton married and she taught him all she knew.
Why did Emily write this book?
She wants to show us the difference between rich and poor people. Poor people
are only toys or workers. Without money your nothing, she shows this in the
Heathcliff is a poor boy and lives with a rich family. When Heathcliff grows
older, Hindley hates him more and more because he thinks that Heathcliff
still belongs to the poor and has to work like all the others. And Heathcliff
can certainly not marry anyone from their family or from the Lintons.
When Heathcliff returns after he ran away because of Catherine, he's rich and
immediately marries Isabella.
· When Catherine dies after she has given birth to a seven months old
At twelve o'clock that night a second Catherine, a weak, seven months' child,
was born; and two hours after, the mother died, having never recovered enough
consciousness to miss Heathcliff or to recognise Edgar. Her husband's grief
was painful to see, and was greatly increased, in my opinion, by his being
left without an heir. In my mind I blamed old Mr Linton for fondly settling
his property when Edgar should die, on his own daughter, and not on his son's.
Soon after sunrise, I went out, wishing, yet fearing, to find Heathcliff. He
was leaning against a tree, his hat off, his hair wet with the morning mist.
''She's dead,'' he said. ''I've not waited for you, to learn that. Put away
your handkerchief. She wants none of your tears. How did...'' he struggled
with his grief, refusing my sympathy meanwhile with a fierce stare, ''how did
''Poor unhappy soul,'' I thought, ''you have a heart and feelings the same as
other men!'' I then replied aloud, ''Quietly as a lamb.''
''And - did she ever mention me?''
''Her senses never returned. She recognised no one from the time you left
her. She lies with a sweet smile on her face, and her last spoken thoughts
wandered back to pleasant days of her childhood.''
''May she wake in torment!'' he cried, with terrible violence. ''Why, she's a
liar to the end! I pray one prayer - I repeat it till my tongue stiffens! -
Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said that I
killed you - haunt me, then! Be with me always - take any form - drive me
mad! Only, do not leave me here, where I cannot find you! Oh God, I cannot
live without my life!''
He struck his head against the tree trunk, not like a man but like a wild
animal. The moment he recovered enough to notice me, he thundered a command
for me to go, and I obeyed.
Catherine's funeral was appointed to take place on the Friday following her
death. until then, her coffin lay uncovered in the largest room downstairs.
Edgar spent his days and nights there, a sleepless guardian, while
Heathcliff, as only I knew, watched, equally sleepless, outside.
On the Tuesday, a little after dark, when my master extremely tired from
watching, had gone to rest for an hour or two, I went and opened one of the
windows, to give Heathcliff to say a last goodbye.
That he had silently done so, I knew, when later I noticed on the floor a
curl of fair hair, torn from the little heart-shaped gold box that hung on a
chain round Catherine's neck. It was her husband's, and Heathcliff had thrown
it out and replaced it by black hair of his own. I twisted the two, and
enclosed them together.
Mr Earnshaw was invited to attend the body of his sister to the grave, but he
never came. Isabella was not asked.
Catherine was laid in the earth, to the surprise of the villagers, neither in
the church with the Linton family, nor outside with her own relations. Her
grave was dug on a green slope in a corner of the churchyard where the wall
is so low that wild plants have climbed over it from the moor.
I found this very touching, especially when they watched her day and night.
And when miss Dean twists their curls of hair together.
· When Heathcliff and Catherine meet again, he says:
''You teach me how cruel you've been - cruel and false! Why did you scorn me?
Why were you false to your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort.
You deserve this! You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry,
and force me to do the same - it is your punishment. You loved me - then what
right had you to leave me? Because misery, and degradation, and death could
not have parted us, you, of your own will, did it! I have not broken your
heart - you have broken it, and in breaking it , you have broken mine. It is
only the worse for me, that I am strong. Do I want to live? Would you want to
live with your soul in the grave?''
''Let me alone,'' wept Catherine. ''If I've done wrong, I'm dying for it. You
left me too, but I forgive you. Forgive me!''
''It is hard, but I forgive you what you have done to me. I love my murderer
- but yours! How can I?''
The words: ''I have not broken your heart - you have broken it, and in
breaking it, you have broken mine,'' are, what I think of it, very well said
He uses very straightforward, maybe a bit rude words in his speech, unlikely
to Catherine who acts like the weeping and helpless lady.
This part of the story is a typical example of the difference between men and
women, men are the boss, and women are a bit like slaves. The sentence:
''Yes, you may kiss me, and cry,'' is like Heathcliff has to say what she can
and can't do.
I'm happy that it is different in these days.
Mr Heathcliff is a man with a gypsy-like appearance, who has black eyes and a
dark forehead. He appears impatient, unfriendly and suspicious. He is a
gentleman in dress and manners. Heathcliff has a lot of bad sides in his
character, some of which I have mentioned before. The only positive thing Mr
Lockwood noticed during his visits is that Heathcliff is intelligent,
good-looking and upright.
I really don't like Heathcliff, because he only cares about himself.
He hasn't changed at the end of the book. Years have passed by, but he is
still the same unfriendly man.
Catherine Earnshaw's spirits are always high, and her tongue is always going:
singing, laughing, disturbing everybody.
She's a wild and wicked girl with pretty eyes, a sweet smile, the lightest
foot and means no harm. Catherine is proud and self-willed.
She changes in the story at the Lintons at Trushcross Grange:
"She had learnt to enjoy fine clothes and admiration, so that instead of her
wild, hatless, uncivilised little thing jumping into the house and rushing up
to us, there got down with grace from a fine black pony, a well-dressed
little person, very careful of her appearance."
I feel sympathy for her, because she's very nice and doesn't mean no harm to
anyone. But Heathcliff just doesn't see what other people feel, and only
thinks of himself.
Edgar Linton is a calm young man with good manners, he lives on Thrushcross
Grange. He marries to Catherine.
Catherine Linton (Cathy) is Catherine's and Edgar's daughter. She is a young
girl with a admirable form and a delicate little face, she is also very
sweet, kind and good. Cathy is later in the story married with Linton
Heathcliff, and after that with Hareton.
Cathy is almost the same as her mother. And just like Catherine, she is
tormented by Heathcliff.
Isabella is Edgar's sister. She loves Heathcliff and they get married. They
get a son: Linton Heathcliff.
Linton Heathcliff is a worthless, bad-tempered boy and bad in spirit. On top
of that, he is also a coward.
Hindley Earnshaw is Catherines brother. He hates Heathcliff and beats him.
Hindley is later married to Frances.
Frances is a young fresh girl, rather thin but eyes as bright as diamonds.
She died of lung disease.
Hareton Earnshaw is Hindley's son. He is born in June 1778, in the story is
he a young man. He has lost his rights in Wuthering Heights.
Mr Lockwood is kind and polite, but he's curious.
Mrs Dean (Ellen) is the housekeeper of Mr Lockwood. She was servant in
Thrushcross Grange for 18 years and was formerly servant at Wuthering
Heights. She tells the story.
Joseph is a servant on Wuthering Heights. He is a old disagree-able man.
Zillah is a cook at Wuthering Heights. She is a big, strong woman.
Style and Audience
The book is slow and boring, and not a book which you will read again, except
when you have to.
It's difficult to guess what's going to happen next in this book, because the
characters suddenly marry or fall in love with somebody else than you expect.
The original version of this book is written for adults. The version I read
version is simplified. It is adjusted to the level of secondary school
students in Holland from the fourth form and up.
The book is written for people who are interested in dramatic love-stories. I
think more women than men will read it, because most men don't like these
The story tells us how people and families were, and were created in those
When I read the book for the first time, I didn't understand much of it.
Because lots of details were left out, the original book is twice as long. So
I asked my sister to explain it, then I read it again and I understood almost
everything of it now.
When seeing such a book like Emma and Pride and Prejudice from Jane Austen or
like this book, you won't think easily lets read this book, this one sounds
like fun. These books are more for older people, who are sitting in their
chair doing nothing, so they read a book.
Not really, because they are all in a love drama, and I'm not really like
that. But maybe I would like to be Catherine or Cathy.
Personal Comment and Conclusion:
This version of the book is difficult to understand, because a lot of details
aren't given. The official book is twice as long.
I don't really like this kind of stories, because these are about family
problems. I'm not very interested in the problems of two families in the 19th
But I read it because I had to read it for my old school in Holland.
And it was the only book on the English reading list that I read.
If I would recommend it to anyone, I would advice adults to read it. Because
it's a famous book and it is part of your cultural learning in your life.
Andere boeken van deze auteur:
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