Let’s discuss Wuthering Heights! Read through my discussion prompts below, then add your thoughts on those or anything else you felt was important to you. If you have written a review please include a link to it, and ask a question for me (or other book club buddies) to answer. And remember to check back to see if people have replied to your comments.
In lieu of a live show, this month I have recorded a video discussion with my friend @Librariansdrinktea, which you can find embedded below:
Did you like any of the characters? (If so who and why, or if not how did that impact your feelings about the book?)
I found all the characters in Wuthering Heights to be wicked or contemptible in some way. Even Nelly the sometimes narrator, who could have been portrayed as a kindly, sympathetic character is responsible for treating other characters awfully. To me though this was all part of the appeal! It sounds strange to enjoy a book so much where you can’t possibly like a single character, but there is something so wonderfully invigorating about reading a novel where the author has so deliberately set our to expose all the worse parts of humanity.
Throughout the book things seem to exist in pairs, what do you make of that? Do you think it has a special significance? And did you find it confusing?
There are two Catherines, two Heathcliffs, two houses (Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights), two families (Earnshaw and Linton), and even two halves to the novel. I found the names endlessly confusing, and on the advice from someone on instagram looked up a family tree. After shouting that the English should stop marrying their cousins, I did stop and think about the significance of all these pairs and of how interlinked all the elements of the story are. All these sets of pairs give the novel a claustrophobic feeling, and drive the tension in the inter-personal dramas. The only character to ever leave the limited setting of Grange and Heights dies ‘off screen’ once again adding to the possessive hold that novel has on physical space. I was also fascinated by how the second generation echoes the personality and failings of the first generation, which gave the novel a poetic feeling.
Heathcliff: Figure of wickedness or romance?
Heathcliff seems to be widely regarded as a classic example of the ‘tortured romantic hero’ archetype. I’m honestly not sure that I agree with that, and I’m curious to see what you all think. Though he is fascinating as a character so deeply invested in long term revenge (even after the death of those who inflicted pain upon him), I didn’t find him to be a romantic character.
Do you have a favourite quote?
I just love seeing all your favourite quotes, so I can’t help but ask this. I have dozens of tags throughout my edition, but my favourite has to be:
“I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.”
It just so perfectly illustrates the circular nature of the story and the excess of emotion that it contains.
Did you enjoy Wuthering Heights? (What’s your star rating?)
Though I will wait to write my review after I have read all your discussion points (for your options may sway me into new interpretations) my first reaction is that I am very glad I read this book. Review is up, and can be read here. It is one that I have heard mentioned and referred to so many times, but I didn’t imagine that it was such a dark and complex book. The more I think about it the more clever this book appears to be. Emily Bronte might have only written one novel, but it is certainly a fascinating one! For now I am tentatively giving it 4.5 stars.