What do I think about the second half of Wuthering Heights? There shouldn’t be a second half.
Perhaps that’s simplistic. I know it draws many parallels to the first half, adding meaning through contrast. The first half also serves to explain Heathcliff’s motivations while in the second he gets his revenge. If I didn't enjoy it, it's not a cut-and-dried case of it being unnecessary.
Some people think the second half is irrelevant because they mistakenly believe Wuthering Heights is first and foremost a tragic love story (and Twilight isn’t helping). Yes, the love between Catherine and Heathcliff is central, but it’s primarily a story about hatred and revenge—which makes the second half crucial. I recognize that, but it still falls flat for me.
I’ve said before that Heathcliff’s anger seems misdirected, and the second half of the novel compounds this. The people he’s seeking revenge against aren’t even alive! Which, okay, explains why he has to use surrogates, but as a result I lost any sympathy I could have mustered for him. I get that he’s angry and broken. His self-destructive spiral would also make sense, lashing out at innocent bystanders included, except that his so-called “revenge” is lukewarm and ends up feeling more like ill-conceived matchmaking. For all the revenge he tried to exact, the most meaningful thing he does in the entire novel is leave. In hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have come back.
As for the ending? If I pick up a novel about revenge, I want the ending to be morbid and earth-shatteringly tragic. Instead, I got a pseudo kind-of-sorta happy ending. Talk about a letdown.
Maybe it should have been a simple tragic love story: Nix the second half, tie up the story at Catherine’s death and up the gothic a tad—if you’re going to put in a ghost, don’t half-ass it. I may have actually enjoyed it had that been the case. I’m certainly not the first to think this; many film adaptations have gone this route.
My final verdict: I didn’t hate the book quite as much as I expected to—my hatred for it has probably gotten distorted over the years. That said, having now given the novel more than its fair shot, I can confirm that it isn’t going anywhere near my list of favourites any time soon.
Before I sign off, a blog about Wuthering Heights could never be complete if I didn’t mention Kate Bush at least once. Here’s hoping the iconic song will be stuck in your heads for the rest of the week. You’re welcome.
With that, dear readers, I’m officially tired of Wuthering Heights.
Amanda is an aspiring content creator currently trying to navigate the world of blogging. When she isn’t busy tripping over her own feet, she can usually be found with either her ukulele or her phone in hand. An avid reader and a dedicated friend, her writing reflects her many passions.