Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rachelle’s Book Club-The First Book Review of 2009: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Rachelle’s Take on this book: Me, no likey!

Here is another book which has been denoted a classic and has left me wondering yet again, what makes a book a classic? Is it just because it’s old and the author had a neat backstory? Emily Bronte was very young when she wrote this, about 30 years of age, and died not long after.

Does a book become a classic because in order to be considered well-read you must have digested a certain amount of atrocious literature? Do we need to read certain books to say that we have read them? I guess that’s why I checked Wuthering Heights out from the library, because I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about which had been carried on for 150 years.

Wuthering Heights is probably another favorite torturous essay project for English students the world over. It definitely has topics for discussion and multi-layered characters, but I’m going to share my opinion because I can. I was so annoyed with Heathcliff that if I had been a character in Wuthering Heights, I would have found a way to commit him to an insane asylum or push him off a cliff.

I also think it was ridiculous that the whole book is told from the point of view of the housekeeper who tells “the story” to the new tenant of The Grange, Mr. Lockwood, and then he writes it all down in a journal. I guess they had a lot more time in the 1800s but I’ve never written a journal account so detailed and it wasn’t believable for me. Why not just tell the story from the point of view of the housekeeper instead of switching back and forth between her and Mr. Lockwood? Those switching points were so contrived as to also be annoying because it seemed Bronte was just connecting pieces in an effort to keep up the monologue.

I know that there are many people who like this novel as a classic literary work. There were some wonderful, quotable lines included in this novel and some beautiful description. I admit I liked the last paragraph and the ephemeral mood it put off as I pictured the heath and the shadows of three graves.

Overall, I didn’t like Wuthering Heights because the negativity of the story was carried too far and then wrapped up so nicely and suddenly in the end as to hardly be believable. Catherine Linton Heathcliff went from bubbling innocent happiness to ‘Heathcliff’ attitudes of brooding animosity toward all mankind and then back to bubbling innocent happiness just like switching gears.

But because Emily Bronte was so young and this novel is so old I can see why there is some great interest. I realize I probably will not enjoy all of the classics because sometimes I’m not in the mood to delve into the deep literary characteristics of the story. Sometimes I just want to read a book for a great story, other times it’s fun to be analytical. You can probably guess what kind of mood I was in during this reading of Wuthering Heights.

Here is some more information from one of my favorite sources:

Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte.

The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centres (as an adjective, wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather). The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.

Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights' met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, with many horrified by the stark depictions of mental and physical cruelty.[1][2] Though Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was originally considered the best of the Brontë sisters' works, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that its originality and achievement made it superior.[3] Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor and songs (notably the hit "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush), ballet and opera.

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