Boekverslag : Emily Brontë - Wuthering Heights
De taal ervan is Engels en het aantal woorden bedraagt 2948 woorden.

Writer: Emily Brontë (1818-1848)

Published: 1847

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.

Title explanation:

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

happened first.


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.

Specific Examples

· 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

she die?''

''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

by Heathcliff.

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.

The characters

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

softy love-stories.

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.
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