My initial expectations of Wuthering Heights were admittedly ignorant. I had never read it in high school, never before read a summary of it, and had no idea what the overall tone would be. However, a few chapters in, I got feedback from others who had read it and thought it to be too dramatic and depressing. I went on reading it with this knowledge guarding my further expectation. Perhaps this helped me to appreciate it more than I would have had I been anticipating a ‘warm & fuzzy’ story line.
I am moderately fascinated by psychology in general, and this book provided many examples of how family life and relationships might deeply affect a person.The story spans a couple of generations, with the important events taking place in and between the two main homesteads. Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Not one character in the story escapes experiencing a sickness of some sort, whether it be a mortal physical illness, a mild cold, or a tormented soul’s ill mental state. Death and illness are frequent themes in the book, and there is little solace to be found for those whom the deaths affect, as there is still sickness and lack of peace among the living. While these negative accounts are, for the most part, not disturbingly graphic, the reader’s imagination is easily affected by the gloomy misery. The two households are generally seen to be at odds with each other, though they are also very alike in some ways. The two homes coexist with the characters intermingling between 2 extremes of friendliness or fiendish conniving, as though they were one big, dysfunctional family.
It may be worth mentioning that it took me several chapters until I became interested in any of the characters, or felt like I ‘knew’ them. Although, once past that perplexing stage, it became quite interesting. One thing I struggled with was all the names which began with ‘H’. I had to flip back now and then to remind myself who was whom through the earlier chapters. (Hindley, Heathcliff, Hareton… Was that necessary? I’m inclined to say no, but this was just a peeve of mine.) There was also a point in the latter half of the book, since it spanned years of history, when I felt a need to flip back to the beginning and visit that early scene again with a more informed point of view which further reading had provided (and familiarity with all those ‘H’ names caused less confusion.). I would have missed some interesting connections had I not, but it wasn’t a huge inconvenience.Despite the depressingly dismal households which are portrayed throughout the book – those devoid of a loving, compassionate atmosphere and replete with problematic relationships, underlying resentments, and untrustworthy neighbors – there are a few characters who offer the reader a place of comfort. One of the narrators, Mr. Lockwood, provides a character with whom the reader can relate. Even when we have only just met him, the reader can easily sympathize with his thoughts as he shares his experiences within the unpleasant and uncivil household of Wuthering Heights.
Nelly Dean, the wise, faithful housekeeper, was easily my favorite character, possessing exactly that which was lacking among most of the others. She possessed a steadfast faithfulness, devotion, unconditional love, strength of heart and mind, and a bold yet gentle spirit. She was the constant. While the reader would naturally feel repulsed by much of the behavior of most of the other characters, it is inspiring to glean from her motherly care, despite the dreary atmosphere in which she finds herself. She is one of the main narrators of the story, with a crucial, supportive role in the plot. The reader’s perception of the morally obscure characters is able to rise above the initial ‘train wreck’ status through Ms. Dean. She provides the reader a pathway to empathy for those characters, as we get a more intimate look into their personalities and lives, simply because she is steadfast in her duties and does them with love.Nelly’s character, while not perfect, was definitely a persistent seed of loving devotion. She seemed to offer a subtle hope to each home in the story by her gentle influences. At the end, the sowing of her forgiving, caring heart and tireless service to some undeserving people began to produce fruit, when two of the characters choose love, personal growth, and devotion despite preceding circumstances and failures. Faithful service done with genuine care makes a difference in the lives touched by it, however thanklessly it might be received.
The book overall was a good read, thought-provoking and interesting. Though it was filled with sickness, sorrow, mistreatment, and injustice, the point came across that this is not the way in which life should be lived, nor homes ordered. Unforgiveness, slander, spitefulness, patriarchal tyranny, abuse, neglect, hatred, and injustices can be seen as the direct cause of much of the anguish and suffering in the book. Mankind desperately needs God and His ways to avoid the bitterness and calamity which can arise from several sinners living under one roof. God designed relationships to flourish in selfless love, unconditional devotion, kindness, and forgiveness; homes in which these qualities are embraced know joy and peace.One is reminded through this story that no matter how dark a situation might be, love, truth, and justice will ultimately triumph.
Overall, I would recommend this book, and I would read it again.
Thank you for reading my book review. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!