Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wuthering Heights part 1

Since I am a Biochemistry major I rarely read novels such as this one.  The first ten pages or so really took me a while to get through and understand.  Once past the introduction however it began to flow more easily and I could actually enjoy what I was reading.  The first thing I liked about this book ( I also enjoy when movies do this ) was the how they tell the story through different ways.  Such as through Lockwood's eyes, diary entries, and other characters retelling stories they have seen.  The incredible description the characters go into really makes me think about all the small things in everyday life that we all just look over and never think about.

"Above the chimney were sundry villanous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols: and, by way of ornament, three gaudily painted canisters disposed along its edge.  The floor was smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade.  In an arch under the dresser, reposed a huge, liver colored bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses." (p. 3, Wuthering Heights)

After reading this and other sometimes long winded descriptions, I can clearly picture myself in the room and or situation Lockwood is experiencing.  Although it was tough to get through at first I feel like it got easier and easier as I went on.

One thing I kept thinking as I was reading was how incredibly rude Mr. Heathcliff, family, and workers were to Mr. Lockwood without even knowing him.  Leaving a stranger in a room with all of your mean tempered dogs and then not caring that they are attacking him is not exactly what I call being a gracious host.

With the whole Heathcliff and Hindley struggle it is obvious that jealously is one of the main feelings felt in this book.  Hindley is constantly trying to thwart Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship and Heathcliff's life in general.  It is sad to say but this idea of jealously is just as strong if not stronger today than ever.  I think its sad that some people are so insecure about their friends and relationships that they resort to being jealous when many times it is unwarranted.  Not only in relationships but in other people's successes there is jealousy.  Jealousy is an evil emotion that affects us all and Emily Bronte shows us that in the character of Hindley.
"Heathcliff received no flogging, but he was told that the first word he spoke to miss Catherine would ensure a dismissal"

Chapter 9 was a very touching chapter for me to read. Emily Bronte does a fabulous job describing Catherine's true love towards Heathcliff.  She loved him so much that instead of being selfish and marrying him just to make herself happy, she wants to marry into the wealthy Lintons so that she can use the Linton's wealth to help her true love escape from the brutality that Hindley brings on Heathcliff.  Obviously this sucks for Linton but the point I am trying to make is that she would do just about anything for Heathcliff so he is safe from a wretched life.

So far, despite my hesitations about reading this novel in comparison to what I am used to, I actually enjoy this book.  The writing is excellent and I am interested to see where the story turns.


  1. I'm so glad that you brought up the issue of narration in this novel. _Wuthering Heights_ has a great reputation for a passionate, romantic read, so I can imagine that it's somewhat of a disappointment when we open up the novel to Lockwood's tedious and dreary narration. What we might want to consider while reading WH is the juxtaposition between our two narrators--Lockwood and Nelly. What do both of these characters represent? How do they perceive the action at WH? I love that you bring up the "tea" scene with Lockwood because I find it kind of hilarious the way in which the "family" (if you can call it that) at WH lies completely beyond Lockwood's mode of comprehension. I have this image of the fastidious Lockwood standing around demanding tea from these larger than life, almost mythical characters. He's definitely a man out of his element and we should continue to consider why Bronte opens the novel with him and his point of view as opposed to Heathcliff or Catherine (the younger). We might also want to question why Catherine's ghost appears to Lockwood, but not Heathcliff? In relation to my previous question, we should also examine how the "story" of WH changes under Nelly's narration. Does Nelly's class standing alter the way in which she tells the story of Heathcliff and Catherine?

  2. To Answer your last question first, I definitely think that Nelly being a servant of the upper class plays a large role in how she describes the events at Wuthering Heights prior to Mr. Lockwood's arrival. She seems to tread around her story telling, making sure she does not sound as though her masters have done anything wrong. It also, to me, sounds as though she really loved her masters Heathcliff and Catherine. She seemed to step in when Heathcliff was ever in a bad situation. Example being when she freed him from his attic cell and fed him after he was locked up there all night. I think that it is good that Bronte put in two different ways to tell the story, one being Lockwood, the other Nelly. They both tell their parts of the story very differently and I have to say I enjoy Nelly's narration more than, as you said, "Lockwood's tedious and dreary" version. Lockwood does a great job of telling the tale of an outsider. He doesn't ever really know what is or has gone on at WH. Nelly on the other hand tells her tale from an insiders perspective, someone who was there for the events. I think that Catherine's Ghost appeared to Lockwood instead of Heathcliff because there is too much pain associated with Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship and she was calling out to Lockwood to perhaps dig up the past a little bit.