Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wuthering Heights Wednesday: Week 1

"Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed; one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of sun." (page 4)

Welcome to the Wuthering Heights Wednesday read-along hosted by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts. Our plan is to read three chapters of Emily Bronte's novel per week and post our thoughts each Wednesday. If you'd like to join us, it's not too late!



Our narrator Lockwood, a man who seems to consider himself highly civilized, has just rented the remote Thrushcross Grange and arrives at Wuthering Heights to call on his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff. The inhabitants of Wuthering Heights appear unfriendly and standoffish (or just downright rude), but Lockwood in undaunted and vows to return for a second visit.

When Lockwood next visits, a snowstorm strands him overnight at Wuthering Heights. The housekeeper, Zillah, puts him in a little-used room that may be haunted. Lockwood has horrible nightmares that awaken the household.
"... knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are you?' I asked... 'Catherine Linton'... As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, 'Let me in!'..." (page 25)

Lockwood returns home the next day. His servants, presuming he died on the moors overnight and preparing a search for his remains, are thrilled to see him.

Other characters at Wuthering Heights:
Catherine - Heathcliff's daughter-in-law
Hareton Earnshaw - not quite sure of this relationship
Joseph - the old servant

My thoughts:

From the very first paragraph, the setting is described as "completely removed from the stir of society" and "a perfect misanthropist's heaven". I doubt anything good is going to happen here!

Next, the characters at Wuthering Heights (even the dogs) seem incredibly rude. Lockwood appears to be sort of a jerk - it seemed pretty obvious to me that a second visit would not be welcomed. Catherine, the daughter-in-law, threw me. I knew the novel focuses on the Catherine/Heathcliff relationship, but now it appears we have two Catherines! I'm also not quite sure of how the younger man, Hareton Earnshaw, is related to Catherine and Heathcliff.

The violence of the dream scene (quoted above) was startling! How could an author even come up with the idea of rubbing a child's (albeit a ghost/child) wrists back and forth over shattered glass?

After just three chapters, I'm convinced this is going to be a wild ride!

Jill's first post with a link to other participant's blogs can be found here.


  1. It's been so long since I've read this one, that I barely remember anything from it. I'll enjoy reading your Wednesday posts.

  2. So I take it this is your first time reading? I read it for the first time last spring, when I hosted the read-along. I thought they were all miserable, horrid characters, and it didn't get any better as the book progresses! I would be interested to see what my impressions would be now as a re-read. I'll have to do that someday!

  3. It's a wild ride indeed! I echo what Sandy said about the characters, though. I couldn't connect with a single one.

  4. Oh - I wish I had more free time! I would love to do this read-along.

    I read the book for the first time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I get the feeling that I didn't truly catch all the nuances of the writing with just one read through.

    Oh well....perhaps in a few more years I will organize another read along :)

    Enjoy the novel!

  5. The wilder the better! After my last attempt at a classic (Moby Dick) I need LOTS of excitement!

  6. my intro mentioned the different names but i am still confused. this is my fist classic read. so i will be patient. i enjoyed your post.

  7. I wished I hadn't read this one or else I would join in the fun (torture??)...I will certainly enjoy reading your thoughts. This one was not a favorite for me at all, but I am currently reading her sister's work- Jane Eyre and love it!

  8. Carolsnotebook - Hopefully the posts will jog your memory and you can enjoy (?) reliving the experience.

    Sandy - Yes, this is my first time reading WH. So far, I would agree that there are no likable characters, but I'm not one that needs to like the character to enjoy the book - we'll see how this goes.

    Nymeth - If first impressions hold true, I'm not going to like any of these people!

    Molly - I will look forward to any read-along you choose. Right now you have waaaay too much on your plate! I do think I'm going to enjoy WH though.

    Softdrink - Dark and wild - here we go...

    Messy Karen - I'm hoping the name confusion gets cleared up soon. We're going to have fun with this!

    Staci - We'll see if it turns out to be fun or torture... wonder if it's possible to be both? I read Jane Eyre for the first time about 5 years ago and feel like I will be ready for a reread very soon.

  9. The movie is just as dark and full of rudeness!

  10. Rhapsodyinbooks - I'll definitely be watching it after the read-along!

  11. A wild ride indeed! This is one dark story and oh the despair but you'll never forget reading it. I love that you're posting in installments and can't wait for the next one!

  12. Ooh you picked up things I completely missed. I had forgotten about the two Catherines and that did cause some confusion. The line about the glass - I don't remember reading that and I will have to go back to reread. Lockwood definitely has a thick skin though, how could you not realise you were not welcome.

  13. Do you really live by such a beautiful lake? I am so envious!

  14. Darlene - Judging from the first three chapters, there doesn't seem to be much chance of 'happily ever after' here!

    Vivienne - I think everybody picking up on different points is the best part of a read-along. The glass scene just seemed so brutal... it made quite an impression on me! Yes, we are fortunate to live on a small lake. I love the little changes that occur daily, and the dramatic seasonal changes. My header photo changes with the seasons.

  15. I read WH about six weeks ago-I loved it for the strange language, the quirky narrative mode and I liked how all the minor characters were some how off-kilter and a bit dysfunctional-great summery of the opening

  16. Thanks, Mel. I'm enjoying this quite a bit and finding it difficult to stop after the weekly three chapters.


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