"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte : a review

Portrait of Emily Bronte, English novelist.
Portrait of Emily Bronte, English novelist. | Source
Portrait of the three Bronte sisters, Anne, Emily and Charlotte.  Painted by their brother.
Portrait of the three Bronte sisters, Anne, Emily and Charlotte. Painted by their brother. | Source

1818 - 1848

One of the greatest classical novels from England and one of my favorites is Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, published in 1847. It is the dark, intense and highly imaginary novel of passion and hate set on the English Yorksire moors.

Although critics called it too savage and brutal, too animal-like and clumsy in construction, it has become to be considered, today, one of the finest novels in the English language. The novel is distinguished from other such novels by its dramatic and poetic presentation, its absence of author intrusion and its unusual structure.

Emily is considered to be the greatest of the three famous Bronte sisters - the other two being Charlotte, who penned Jane Eyre, and Anne, who authored Agnes Grey. Wuthering Heights is a far superior novel to those written by Charlotte and Agnes. Of the three Bronte sisters, we know the least about Emily because she was quiet and reserved and lead a quiet life and left no letters, documents or journals behind to define her. She never married.

In 1820, Emily's father became rector of Haworth and remained there for the rest of his life. Her mother died in 1821, and the children were left very much to themselves in the bleak rectory on the moors.

The three girls were educated at home for the most part. Emily did attend a private school for a short time, but was not happy there and returned home within six months. She also did a six month stint as a governess, but that was not to her liking either. She and Charlotte did start a school at Haworth for younger students and worked at that for several years.

All three sisters wrote poetry and in 1846 published a volume of their poetry called Poems, and it was published under the names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, the pseudonyms of all three sisters. Emily contributed about twenty-one poems and she reveals herself as a true poetic genius in this collection.

In June 1847, Emily's Wuthering Heights, and Anne's Agnes Grey, were accepted for joint publication. But, publication was delayed until Charlotte's Jane Eyre was ready. So they were not published until December 1847. Jane Eyre was immediately popular and successful and Wuthering Heights was not.

After publication of the novel, Emily's health began to fail and she died in December 1848 of tuberculosis.

Cathy and Heathcliff

First edition publication of Wuthering Heights.
First edition publication of Wuthering Heights. | Source
The moors in Yorkshire, England.
The moors in Yorkshire, England. | Source

The novel, "Wuthering Heights"

Emily wrote her novel between October 1845 and June 1846. It was published in 1847 under her pseudonym Ellis Bell. It centers on the all-obsessive, passionate and doomed love between Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an orphan taken in by her father. It is about how their unresolved passion eventually destroys them and the people around them.

It is an intense and solidly imagined novel. The novel begins with the recounting of a disinterested party, a man named Lockwood, who begins the narrative and serves as the frame for a series of retrospective shorter narratives by Ellen Dean, the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights, an English estate on the moors in Yorkshire, England.

The story concerns the impact of Heathcliff, an orphan, on the two families of Earnshaw and Linton in a remote district in Yorkshire at the end of the 18th century. Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw fall in love and share a stormy nature and temperment. They are the love of each other's life. Heathcliff becomes embittered by the abuse he suffers at the hands of Cathy's brother and by the loss of his true love when Cathy chooses to marry the gentle and prosperous Edgar Linton.

As a result of these actions, Heathcliff plans revenge on both families extending into the second generation. Cathy's death in childbirth does not release Heathcliff from his obsessive love for her which continues until his death. The marriage of the surviving heirs of the Earnshaw and Linton families finally restores peace between the two families.

Emily Bronte worked the novel within confined scenes and with a small group of characters. She constructed an action, based on profound and primitive energies of love and hate, which proceeds logically. She shows contrast of actions, behaviors, love, hate and passion through her characters.

Heathcliff represents nature, free and wild, and Edgar represents refined, mannerly culture. Cathy has difficulty in identifying her own nature. Is she free and wild like Heathcliff or is she refined and cultured like Edgar? Her internal conflict is that she is unable to choose between nature (Heathclilff) and culture (Edgar). Her final decision to marry Edgar and live the life of a refined, cultured, and stately lady is seen as a surrender to the cultured estate life and a rejection of Heathcliff and all he represents and this ends up impacting all the characters in the novel.

Throughout the novel, Edgar's refined and courteous manner and mannerisms are contrasted with Heathcliff's rough, brutal and savage behavior.

Ellen "Nelly" Dean, the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights has previously worked in both the Earnshaw and Linton estates and is the bridge between nature and culture as she desperately tries to help her mistresss, Cathy.

Isabella Linton, Edgar's younger sister, sees Heathclifff as a romantic hero and doesn't understand why Cathy and Edgar dismiss him so. Cathy warns Isabella against this view of Heathcliff. Isabella marries Heathcliff anyway, despite the objections of Cathy and Edgar, and suffers from Heathcliff's emotional and physical abuse. She also becomes an unwitting partner in Heathcliff's revenge. Isabella finally is able to escape to London and gives birth to her and Heathcliff's son - Linton. This Linton and Cathy's daughter marry at the end of the novel and bring peace to the two families and estates.

Of course, the setting on the moors, brings a haunting, gloomy, dark atmosphere to the novel. The wind blows wildly like Heathcliff and Cathy when they are in love. The cold snow respresents the cold bitterness Heathcliff has for Edgar after he marries Cathy. And it represents the cold, unfeeling bitterness in his heart that turns into emotional and physical abuse he exacts on his wife, Isabella. She literally shrinks into an ematiated shadow of her former self.

And, of course, the greatest contrast of all is the look at the two emotions of passionate, obsesssive love contrasted with cold and chilling hate. Never had a novel before nor since been written depicting such passionate and obsessive love and such cold and chilling hate.


Copyright (c) 2012 Suzannah Wolf Walker all rights reserved

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Comments 65 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I read it in college and hated it; then I read it twenty years later and loved it. Did the book change in twenty years? LOL Great review of a true classic that grows on you over time.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Bill, you are so funny! LOL In high school and college I don't thing we get the passion enough. But, after 20 years and some life experience, it begins to make sense. I just wonder if Emily ever had a passionate love affair on which she based this novel? She never married so I wonder how she got it so right. We will never know. But, I have always loved the novel, but them I am a romantic and get into all that stuff. Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks so much for reading and your cute comments!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Emily Bronte is one of my favorites, especially her novel, "Wuthering Heights!" Very well-written as always. Excellent. Loved the video too. Voeted Way Up Passion can stir up many emotions of both love and hate at the same time. In His Love, Faith Reaper


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Wonderful review of this classic novel. I don't recall reading it when I was younger but would love to give it a read now. Thank you for sharing this with us.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you Faith. I have always loved this novel. Thanks for the votes and for stopping by to read this. Most appreciated!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you bdgiulio. I think it is more of a "chick flick and novel". But, if you read it, I hope you enjoy it. It would be interesting to hear a male's review of this. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. Most appreciated!


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

suzettenaples, you did a wonderful job reviewing this book. Wuthering Heights is my favorite novel and the original movie with Merle Oberon is simple gorgeous. The black and white film and the desolation of the moors sets the mood perfectly. Wuthering Heights is a book my best friend and I read over and over and over. Thank you so much. I shall read it tonight since you have put me in the mood.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thanks Hyphen. I love this novel too. And I love the original Merle Oberon/Laurence Olivier movie too. It is the best one, I think. I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I've been wanting to do this one for a while, but I have to be in the right frame of mind to write these. It's weird. I think it has to mull around in my mind for a while before I can actually put it into words. I don't know. It's a weird process with me. LOL Anyway, I'm so glad you stopped by to read this and for your comments.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Excellent review/report (as usual). One of my favorite books. It seems to change as I got older.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

What a beautiful and haunting review of Wuthering Heights! I've always been fascinated by the works of the Bronte sisters, although I haven't read many of them since I was a teenager. This makes me want to pick up this novel again....all the obsession, darkness, hatred. The stuff of great lit! Thank you so much. : )


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I haven't thought about this book for a long time. I loved the review and may even read it again. Thanks so much for sharing and keeping alive this classic.


Break of Dawn profile image

Break of Dawn 4 years ago

I have always loved this novel, and have read it quite a few times during my life. It was such a shame that Emily Bronte died so very young. I'm sure she would have brought us more novels if she had lived longer. Thank you for a well-written and excellent review.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

A great review of my favorite novel. I had read it when I was in college and found it prostrating but I did finished reading it to find the end very sad. Years later in Germany, I found the book in German language translation and found it very different although the story was the same. I loved it and was lucky to have seen the black and white British film of Wuthering Heights in Dutch tv chanel which I was able to see in German tele. Since then I watch either the film or read the book more often than before. Thanks for reminding me of this great love story. Have a great week!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Mhatter; Thanks so much for your comments. Glad you enjoyed this. Yes, as we get older I think it makes more sense to us. Thanks so much.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

vespawolf: I know, isn't this novel marvelous? What an imagination Emily had. I haven't read it since I was younger either, but recently saw the black and white movie and I was reminded of the greatness of this novel. Thanks so much for your comments and for reading this - most appreciated!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Carol: Thanks so much for visiting and reading this. I appreciate your comments. It is a great novel.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Break of Dawn: Thanks so much for your visit and reading this. I know, her life was cut so short. I, too, think we would have gotten more great novels from her had she lived longer. Thanks for your comments - most appreciated!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thelma Alberts: I think the novel makes a different impact depending on what age it is read. It is difficult when we are younger because of the writing - so different from today. But, I think we all appreciate it more when we are older. I recently saw the black and white film and it brought this novel back to my attention. I love the older movie and find it the best of all the movies made of this novel. To have read this in German is a real feat and I congratulate you! I've studied and lived in Germany and I know how difficult German literature is to read. Kudos to you! I'm so glad you enjoyed this and I appreciate the visit.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

A great review on a book that I was forced to read back in either high school or college. I remember hating the fact that I had to read the book but Bronte was able to win me over....and now years later the book is in my book case.....not to mention the 1939 movie on the DVD rack. As I get older the book seems to mean more and more to me as I understand the relationships so much better. An enjoyable hub that I am voting up and interesting.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Cogerson: I'm so glad you like the novel. I have read it a few times myself over the years. I love the 1939 movie the best, although it doesn't go with the ending in the book. It basically has Cathy dying of a broken heart, which can happen too. I love your movie reviews and all the stats you gather on these movies. So great! Thanks so much for visiting and for your comments.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Excellent hub! I am a big fan of the Bronte sisters. Wuthering Heights is a wonderful classic. Sharing!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Critics have been dead wrong many times and this is proof that they were with this masterpiece as well.

Very well done suzette. I enjoyed this so much and Wuthering Heights (original film) happens to be my favorite movie.f

You have combined the deep, edgy emotion of the characters to Emily herself so well.

A pleasure to vote up, across and to share.


Dahlia Flower profile image

Dahlia Flower 4 years ago from Canada

What a great review you have done of this book! Voting up, useful and sharing.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and I loved it. From your review, Wuthering Heights seems a lot better than Jane Eyre. We'll see because I look forward to reading Wuthering Heights next. Voted up and sharing.


bluebird profile image

bluebird 4 years ago

I like the subjects you choose to write about. This is one of them. I was happy to find the book "A Family called Bronte" by Paula Guzzetti. Quite a read. Enjoyed it very much. Don't waste my time on fiction. The true stories are what really intrigue me. The sisters also had a brother, Branwell, who was also a very interesting character, example: he spent hours making tiny handstitched books out of small scraps of paper, books that were sometimes not much bigger than a postage stamp! With microscopic writing detailing songs, essays, histories and even tiny maps of imaginary lands!

They were a very intriguing family indeed! So talented!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Oh yes I loved this one and award it my Up up and away!!!

Eddy.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

tammy, Thanks for stopping by to read this and for your comments. Most appreciated and thanks for the share!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

vocalcoach: Thanks so much for stopping by to read this. I am glad you enjoyed it. It is sad Emily didn't realize how the critics came to see this great novel was during her lifetime. As they say, "Still waters run deep." She was so quiet and reserved and all this passion came out of her - it is amazing! I love the original movie the best myself. I appreciate your insightful comments!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Dahlia Flower: Thanks so much for reading this and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your comments are most appreciated!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Paul: So nice to see a man enjoy this article and review. I usually think of this as a "chick flick and novel." I also have read and I do like Jane Eyre also - but it has a different feel and atmosphere to it than Wuthering Heights. Both deal with an orphan, but that is the only similarity I see in the two. Glad this inspired you to read Wuthering Heights - I don't think you will be disappointed. Thanks for the visit and your comments!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Paul: The orphan isn't the only similarity. Both are set on the Yorkshire moors and have a setting that is deep, dark, and romantic.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

bluebird: Thank you for the recommendation of the book about the Brontes. It sounds interesting to me. They were all artistic and the brother painted the portrait of his three sisters. I will certainly be reading this soon. Thanks for your insightful comments and for visiting. Most appreciated!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Eiddwen: Thanks so much for the visit and the votes. I'm glad you enjoyed this. So many of our great classical literature comes from England - what a treasure!


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago

I remember reading it back at university (I studied English and Italian language and literature). Thinking about it now, I completely forgot the plot and everything. Thanks for refreshing my memory! I have to read this book again.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you for reading this, vox. Yes, this is one of my favorite novels and I never tire of reading it or viewing the film. Thanks for your comments - most appreciated!


austinhealy profile image

austinhealy 4 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

Very informative and pleasant to read. Well documented, too. Truly an enjoyable experience, we need more hubs like this on HP


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Hi Suzette -- Marvelous essay about Emily and Wutering Heights. I am not quite sure how this happened, because I did go to school and even took Lit classes in college, but I have never read the book. Now, I will have to remedy that oversight. :) Great Hub. Theresa


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

austinhealy: Aren't you sweet ! Thanks for the comments and compliment-most appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. Wuthering Heights is just my favorite novel. It is so inspiring to writing! Thanks for your visit.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Theresa: That's ok. I know what you mean. I went to college and was a lit major and never read Sylvia Plath. This is such a classic and I know you will enjoy reading it. Thanks for reading and for your comments.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Fascinating, intriguing review of the classic Wuthering Heights, Suzette. I don't know what rock I've been hiding under my whole life, but I don't remember reading it, unfortunately, but not too late! I was especially intrigued by the fact that despite Emily's reserved nature, she appeared to be conflicted in her real life, as illustrated by her disappointment in private school and as a nanny, each within a short 6-month commitment period. She never married, yet was fascinated enough by obsessive love and passion to have written a novel of the highest volatile emotions revolving around human connectivity. The little I know about Emily and her novel makes me wonder if the author was telling readers more about herself than any fictional character. I enjoyed every moment of your article, Suzette. Everything you write about leaves me, not only more informed, but curious to learn more. Your brilliance as a teacher shines on and will forever, my friend.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Amy, you always brighten my day with the comments you leave. You have not been hiding under a rock - not with the poetry you write. Each one of us has a different life tragectory - remember those snowflakes fluttering down on the parallel planes? The good thing about reading is you are never too old to do it! LOL You have a different life experience and knowledge than I have, that's all. I admire you very much! These pieces of literature just define us as a people and a culture - that's all I point out. These classic novels are timeless and universal. I think you and I have experienced passion in our lives - maybe not so obsessive - but passion nonetheless. I agree with you, Amy, I too think Emily had to have had a passionate affair at some point in her life to write this novel. Or, could it be that she didn't, and ma be could write about what she was missing? Who knows ? She is an enigma. I do have to admit, Amy, that teaching is my gift and your kind comments invigoate me even more,.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Amy - continued (LOL) Book learning is good, Amy, but life experience is the best, as far as I am concerned. I am so glad I pique your curiosity - you are a great learner and a gifted writer.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

I have this book in my collection, but I have not read it. After reading this wonderful review, I'm very interested and want to read it instantly.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Vinaya: It really is a good novel and I think you will enjoy it. I am happy this has inspired you to read it. Thanks so much for visiting and reading this and for your insightful comments. Most appreciated!


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

What a great recount of both the novel and the life of the creative woman. I loved this novel when I first read it and find it interesting that as you say critics then called the work 'clumsy'. I vote the hub up and useful.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Christy: Thank you for reading this and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I sometimes think critics look for unflattering things to say. I did not find it clumsy at all. Thanks so much for visiting and for the votes - much appreciated!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I read Wuthering Heights and also Jane Eyre just for fun. It was never assigned reading for me as others have stated. The movie made about Wuthering Heights accentuated the moodiness with the setting. Thanks for the reminder of these novels with your hub. I should probably read Agnes Grey just to round out the Bronte sister's writings. Up votes!


LupitaRonquillo profile image

LupitaRonquillo 4 years ago from Colorado

Wuthering Heights is my English professor's favorite book, can't wait to finally read it myself! I've read her sister's book, Jane Eyre and since then have become an addict for classics like these! Thanks for an interesting hub on the Bronte sisters, never knew they published poems!


anupma profile image

anupma 4 years ago from India

Wuthering Height is really an amazing love story... It is one of top 10 love stories of all time.

Great hub. Thanks for sharing.


RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

RobinGrosswirth23 4 years ago from New York

A classic like this is timeless. I read it years ago and saw the movie as well. I enjoyed the background information about the author and her family. Great review.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Peggy: Thank you so much! Yes, I have read those two also and I did it on my own, too. I love both novels, but I like Wuthering Heights the best. I loved the original movie, also - it was so moody and captured the atmosphere of the moors perfectly. Thanks for the visit and I'm glad you enjoyed this.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Lupita: Thanks so much for reading this and I'm glad you enjoyed it. You will enjoy the novel when you read it. Thanks so much for the visit and your comments are most appreciated


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

anupma: I agree with you, this love story is right up there with the best of them! Thanks so much for reading this and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your comments are most appreciated!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Robin: Thanks so much for reading this piece. I'm glad you enjoyed it and your comments are most appreciated!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Your review is awesome! You are a fine writer yourself and you really get this story. Thank you for the good read. I enjoyed the journey.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

This is an excellent review. I haven't read the book, but know now that I should! Voted up.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thanks James. That means a lot coming from a fine writer as yourself. So glad you enjoyed this and I appreciate your comments and visit.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Miooionaire Tips: Thanks so much for your comments and I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I also hope it has inspired you to read it - you would enjoy it! I appreciate the votes - thanks!


Mr Coleman profile image

Mr Coleman 4 years ago from Europe

I'm totally in love with Wuthering Heights. For me it's dark, mysterious, magical. Thank you for this hub!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 3 years ago from Canada

Suzette, this is one of my favourite books. I like what you said about Heathcliff representing nature, and Edgar symbolizing culture and refinement. Good insight!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM Author

prairieprincess: This is one of my favorite novels, if not my all time favorite. Thank you for your insightful comments. They mean so much to me. Yes, Cathy was instinctively and through her own nature drawn to Heathcliff, yet she wanted the cultured life that Edgar offered. Althought her passion was for Heathcliff, I think in her own way she had love for Edgar also. Many see her as just shallow and selfish for wanting the cultured life, dresses, position in society. But, I think there was love there for Edgar also. What a conflict of passions and desires and needs! That's why I have always loved this story. Thanks for your visit and comments. Most appreciated.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

A great review of this book, which was my favorite book for many years when I was still in high school and later.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM Author

This is one of my favorite too. I love all the books by the Bronte sisters, but of the three, this one is my favorite. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. Most appreciated.


SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

SANJAY LAKHANPAL 3 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

Nice review.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Sanjay: Thank you for reading this and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your visit is most appreciated.

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