Book Review: Wuthering Heights

27 June 2016

By Lauren E. White

In December 1847, under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, Wuthering Heights was published and a gift of literature was given to the world. Emily Brontë’s wild Gothic novel about a ferocious love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw has stood the test of time and is still widely read today.

After being adopted by Cathy’s father at a young age, Heathcliff joins the Earnshaw family and takes all of his foster father’s affections, prompting Hindley, Cathy’s brother, to despise his character. From childhood to adulthood, Cathy and Heathcliff are inseparable and Brontë crafts them as soulmates; nothing can part them and they will always love each other. But when Cathy marries another man because it would ‘degrade’ her to marry Heathcliff, the reader sees that couple are not your average soulmates.


Heathcliff is always regarded as one of the most terrifying and malicious characters in literature – he is the epitome of the Byronic hero. His love for Cathy is so intense and so furious that he has no love left for anyone else, hence his ice cold and brooding approach towards others. Nelly Dean, one of the narrators of the novel, describes Cathy as Heathcliff’s ‘idol’ and there really is no better way of explaining their relationship. Cathy is Heathcliff’s life; he puts her on a pedestal in the midst of his monomania and worships her more than God.

Brontë portrays the love of Cathy and Heathcliff as exclusive: nobody else could ever be loved by him. The two characters are not supposed to be liked by the reader, with Cathy shown as shallow, willing to ‘betray [her] own heart’ and Heathcliff portrayed as cruel and villainous. Neither character is one that the reader should wish to encounter, which is why some people do not like Wuthering Heights. However, once you see that their relationship is so intense and can transcend the grave, it is a concept to marvel at, rather than crave.

Cathy and Heathcliff in 1992's film adaptation
Cathy and Heathcliff in 1992’s film adaptation

Wuthering Heights is one of the most passionate novels in the English language. It explores the devastating and everlasting effects of an enigmatic love set on the North Yorkshire moors. Brontë is able to cover a lot of life and society in the novel, despite its setting being between just three estates that are within walking distance of one another. It is gripping, exciting and horrifying all at the same time and you will be left wanting more when it’s over.

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