Wuthering Heights Read-Along Week #2

Read-Along hosted by Maggie at An American in France

Chapters 10 – 17

The tension builds, a number of occurrences adding to the heightened drama.  Heathcliff returns after three years, apparently richer although he will not reveal how his fortunes changed.  On the outside he appears more worldly and dapper, as though he can now stand among equals, yet we can glean from certain clues that his character may even be darker and more perverted than before.

Catherine has a break-down due to a conflict between her husband, Edgar and Heathcliff.  I had a hard time reconciling her stubborn willfullness to her fragile state of health and I really wasn’t sure what precipitated her collapse.  At one time she screams at both men that neither would listen to her and that nobody exhibited the proper concern for her, so perhaps it was simply spleen that she was not getting her own way.  In any case, her condition grows serious and the outcome is her death.  At times she appears to want it, to relish the thought, because of the effect it will have on other people.

Yorkshire View
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Heathcliff himself is an enigma.  I had expected him to take a darker road, but thought that his descent would still be held in tension with his love and/or devotion to Catherine, however his behaviour belies an almost severing of his soul from humanity.  His seduction of Edgar’s sister, Isabella, is despicable, his intent only to torture and humiliate her, an act of deliberate vengeance upon Edgar.  His wild carousing with Hindley and dark prowling about, only serve to underline the depravity of his character.  His concern for Catherine’s health is evident, but he does not or refuses to exhibit any conception of how his actions influence her for good or ill.  I was actually quite perplexed by Brontë’s sketching of his character.

Where is this book going?  We have finished slightly more than half of it and Catherine is dead, so I have to question whether the main theme of the novel is enduring love, which you often hear people speak of when referring to Wuthering Heights.  To be honest, I’m finding Heathcliff quite repellent; I cannot find one glimpse of a redeeming feature or even something to draw from him that is a teachable moment.  Hmmm ……

Well, I shall keep reading …….

8 thoughts on “Wuthering Heights Read-Along Week #2

  1. "I cannot find one glimpse of a redeeming feature or even something to draw from him that is a teachable moment." My thoughts exactly. He IS despicable, especially after seducing Isabella, whom I feel sorry for but at the same time it's quite obvious that she knew what she was getting into. It is SO hard to like any of these characters. Even though I've read this novel before (albeit 10 years ago), I forget how it ends but I really hope there is some shred of a silver lining or happy ending that I can be satisfied in… – Maggie @ An American in France

  2. Well, we certainly have the same view of Heathcliff. I really wonder why Emily B. felt it necessary to portray him this way? Perhaps I'll get my answer as we continue.

    What made you think Isabella knew what she was getting into? I felt he made himself agreeable to make sure she'd fall for him so he could get revenge on Edgar and even get back at Catherine ……. a sort of "you went and got married without consideration for me, so I am going to do the same". His true character came out after their marriage. However I can see Heathcliff being able to cover all his despicable traits effectively, so perhaps she was simply naive.

    Even if the lining isn't silver, hopefully it will be worthwhile!

  3. I've also been wondering why Emily Bronte portrayed Heathcliff this way. I think she was making a comment on the status of women (married versus unmarried), the laws of coverture, and the reality of the Victorian marriage ideal.

    Interesting thoughts!

  4. About Isabella knowing what she was getting herself into: it was no secret that Heathcliff was an unpleasant sort of person. After Catherine revealed to Heathcliff that Isabella had developed a "crush" on him, the two of them tease and make fun of Isabella to her face. She should have known right there that Heathcliff wouldn't ever return her feelings…but like you said, I also think she wanted to rebel against her brother's authority. – Maggie @ An American in France

  5. I wonder who Bronte was possible basing her characters on. I remember reading somewhere that even though she did not get out much, she kept her ear to the wall and was surprisingly aware of all that was going on outside her window.

  6. I can see the detail and I feel her characters are sketched out quite finely. I did think their behaviours were sometimes manipulated to suit the situation though. I certainly sense an immaturity in the writing however, now I'm curious to learn more about Emily and why Charlotte didn't think the book should be published. It is very dark. I must get my hands on the Barker biography!

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