I’ve now forced my way through the first half of Wuthering Heights and, loath as I am to admit it, I don’t hate it as much as I want to. To say I’m enjoying it would be a stretch, but I’ve found myself excusing some of the things that I perceived as weaknesses.
I find the second-hand narrative is a poor choice, but I realize it was a popular form. It also adds certain nuances that would otherwise be difficult to include. I also find the story doesn’t hit as hard as I want it to, and I find it rather tame, though I know, in its day, the themes alone were pretty outrageous.
Perhaps I should come clean and admit that I’ve been reading the novel while binging on Supernatural in the down time. If the ghosts in Wuthering Heights are short of terrifying, or if the tragedy is not tragic enough, maybe it’s not entirely the book’s fault (Admittedly, Supernatural may be a weird bar to measure it against. After all, it’s not exactly literature).
What makes or breaks stories for me, though, are the characters. In this first half, I’ve yet to encounter a single character that makes me care.
I can’t help but feel Catherine is wishy-washy in both her passion and cruelty. I tried to hate her, or feel sorry for her, or even feel ambivalent toward her. I tried to find any reason to care what came of her. She just bored me.
As for Heathcliff? Sure, he’s tortured and twisted, but I’m mainly left wishing he were more cunning. I want his revenge to actually feel like revenge, not like a petty teenager throwing a misdirected tantrum. As for the tragic love story? I’m not convinced—I can’t figure out why Heathcliff loves Catherine no matter how much I try.
Finally, let’s not forget Mr. Lockwood. The man is simply annoying. Whenever we are treated to (plagued by) his narrative, I’m torn between feeling he’s a melodramatic wannabe, or a big air-headed crybaby. Whatever the case, neither quality is endearing.
For all this, I realize the comparatively shocking modern representations of tragedy, greed, revenge, love, and, dare I include it, lust have coloured my thoughts about the novel. So, for every time I’ve rolled my eyes, I’ve also been defending the book in its tameness.
Does that mean I think the book is good? I’m not there yet. I am appreciating, though, that its themes are enduring.
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.