This marks the first time I have ever read Wuthering Heights without needing it to be Jane Eyre. And I hope Wuthering Heights appreciates that I made sacrifices in order to read it with eyes and mind uncontaminated by my frantic, abiding, decades-long love of Jane Eyre. That Mia Wasikowska movie came out and I went to see it and afterwards I really, really wanted to read Jane Eyre, and it just so happens I have a beautiful copy of Jane Eyre with gorgeous woodcut illustrations, which Legal Sister got for me and then wiped down every page with a dryer sheet so it wouldn’t smell like smoke. True story. But I didn’t read it, because I wanted to be fair to Wuthering Heights.
Wuthering Heights is about an unpleasant, spoiled girl called Catherine Earnshaw, whose unpleasant father adopts an unpleasant waif called only Heathcliff, who falls in love with Catherine and whose life is made miserable by her unpleasant bullying older brother Hindley, whom Heathcliff gets revenge on by raising his (Hindley’s) son Hareton to be an unpleasant asshole — I know, right? Lamest revenge ever. There’s also a whiny posh kid called Edgar Linton, whom Catherine marries even though she’s in love with Heathcliff, and subsequently there’s an entirely new generation of unpleasant characters growing to adulthood so they can insult each other all over the moors of Yorkshire.
I got through the first half of the book fairly quickly, then ran out of juice and hid it from myself under piles of clothes in my bedroom for several weeks. (Sorry!) Then, reminded that I was doing this for a readalong, I excavated it and staunchly carried on. I took the local train instead of the express on the way home from work several times, because I knew I wasn’t going to finish it unless it was the only book available to me. I would still not have finished if it hadn’t occurred to me to pretend that Isabella Linton, who is subjected to Taming-of-the-Shrew-style mistreatment by Heathcliff after they (spoiler) marry, was Bella Swan from Twilight. This worked a treat, as it allowed me to enjoy Isabella’s misfortune without feeling like a bad feminist. I was all, Yeah! That’s what happens when you fall in love with creepy, abusive guys just because they’re tall, dark, and mysterious. And when Isabella
Swan Heathcliff has her rotten son, Colin Linton Heathcliff, I pretended that his nastiness was only temporary until Mary and Dickon came around to teach him about spiritualism Magic.
I don’t know, y’all. I understand that the point of the book is that Cathy and Heathcliff have this unrelenting hatred and love, and that’s supposed to enthrall and fascinate us. I get that about it, but I don’t find it enthralling, or even interesting. I couldn’t keep the characters apart (must all their names be so similar?) and I barely cared that I was confused. Nobody likes anybody. Nobody is ever nice to anybody. It’s exhausting and dreary to read about everyone being loathsome all the time, up until about twenty pages before the end, when two characters finally decide to be nice to each other. Well, great, kids, you couldn’t have thought of this at the beginning of the story?
(They weren’t born at the beginning of the story.)
Well, it’s official. I don’t like Wuthering Heights. I have given it every opportunity to thrill me. I’ve read it numerous times after Jane Eyre, and now I’ve read it not after Jane Eyre, with the openest of minds. I wanted to love it and I found that I could not. So much for Wuthering Heights. If Mr. Mybug wishes to prove it was written by Branwell Bronte, I have no objection. Bella Swan can have it. Harper can reissue it with absurd taglines until the cows come home. I do not care.
Thanks to the lovely JoV for helping me motivate myself to give this classic a fair try! I am glad to have the book’s plot properly fixed in my mind at last, and glad that I never have to worry about it again. My readalong buddies were JoV, Ana, and Kelly — go check out their reviews too!