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Thread: Wuthering Heights...?

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    Wuthering Heights...?

    Hi,

    So I read Wuthering Heights... What an odd book.

    First off all, why did Bronte make pretty much every single character not likeable? I mean, even the two central characters, Cathy and Heathcliffe (I mean, I think they were... Not Cathy so much because she was dead for the second part of the book, but anyway...) were disgusting. Heathcliffe - well, I think that that is pretty self-explanatory (abusive, cruel, insensitive, sadistic). Cathy - self-centered, mercurial, superficial. I mean, come on. Can anyone honestly tell me who the protagonist is?

    And their "love?" Not appealing at all. I mean, maybe their craziness could be compatible, but the bottom line is that Cathy chose Edgar, caring more about superficial societal expectations than her own romantic feelings. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. I completely understand that back then, marrying outside your "status" was not really accepted, but the least Cathy could have done was not throw hissy fits after she made her decision, and face the consequences she created (which honestly weren't that bad... she had a nice house and a doting husband - that's not exactly torture). If her love for Heathcliffe was as deep as she expressed it to be, then why would she throw it all away for a superficial whim? She either is intensely in love with Heathcliffe, or isn't - she can't be both.

    And even all of the other characters - gross, gross, gross. The Lintons: prissy, spoiled (Mr. Linton, I think had a kind heart, but was honestly so flat and weak that I would hardly call him "likeable"). Linton Heathcliffe: made me sick (makes sense though I guess - being the offspring of Heathcliffe and Isabel... gag) Young Cathy Linton: not bad, but lived a pretty much perfect life, so really had no reason to be too horrible. Hindley: a crazy drunk.

    Can someone explain to me why these characters (namely Heathcliffe, Cathy Sr., and Hindley) turned out so badly as adults? I mean, they grew up in nice households. Did they all just have crazy genes?

    This now brings me to Hareton. Honestly, I think that he is only semi-likeable character in the entire book - which is a bit of a plot hole. Despite his crazy outbursts (a result of his upbringing), he seems like a kind person, shown through his actions towards young Cathy, and his loyalty to Heathcliffe. What made him like this? He was the son of crazy Hindley, and grew up being abused by Healthcliffe - doesn't seem like a good formula to me. And yet, he ended up "better" than all of the other characters, who I believe had pretty decent upbringings - it just doesn't make sense. Was Hindley's wife (Hareton's mother) simply an extremely kind person? That's the only thing I can think of as an explanation for his random positive traits, which were foreign characteristics within this novel. I know it's not likely because Hindley's wife played such a minor role, but what else could it be?

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Laura Clarke; 12-05-2015 at 12:32 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laura Clarke View Post
    Hi,

    So I read Wuthering Heights... What an odd book.

    First off all, why did Bronte make pretty much every single character not likeable? I mean, even the two central characters, Cathy and Heathcliffe (I mean, I think they were... Not Cathy so much because she was dead for the second part of the book, but anyway...) were disgusting. Heathcliffe - well, I think that that is pretty self-explanatory (abusive, cruel, insensitive, sadistic). Cathy - self-centered, mercurial, superficial. I mean, come on. Can anyone honestly tell me who the protagonist is?
    You did not like them. Now, there is people who likes Dracula. Do you think he is better? And what is the difficulty to find out the protagonist? It is Heathcliffe and books do not have to be only about good boys raised by their grandmothers in a big house. Emily was writting under the romantic influence, this means Lord Byron, apparently a very unliked character who wrote a very famous poem about a very unlikeably character named Don Juan. And she wasnt the only one, Dostoieviksy would write stories about murderers or of course, the underground man, both unlikeable.

    And their "love?" Not appealing at all. I mean, maybe their craziness could be compatible, but the bottom line is that Cathy chose Edgar, caring more about superficial societal expectations than her own romantic feelings. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. I completely understand that back then, marrying outside your "status" was not really accepted, but the least Cathy could have done was not throw hissy fits after she made her decision, and face the consequences she created (which honestly weren't that bad... she had a nice house and a doting husband - that's not exactly torture). If her love for Heathcliffe was as deep as she expressed it to be, then why would she throw it all away for a superficial whim? She either is intensely in love with Heathcliffe, or isn't - she can't be both.
    Life is full of not appealling love, but considering the success of the book and the continual quoting of Cathy's words about her eternal love ot Heathcliff, it is obvious their love worked. And sure, the tragedy is that they couldn't have each other and Cathy choose wrongly or havent you notice she died and all that was left to her was Heathcliff's love.


    And even all of the other characters - gross, gross, gross. The Lintons: prissy, spoiled (Mr. Linton, I think had a kind heart, but was honestly so flat and weak that I would hardly call him "likeable"). Linton Heathcliffe: made me sick (makes sense though I guess - being the offspring of Heathcliffe and Isabel... gag) Young Cathy Linton: not bad, but lived a pretty much perfect life, so really had no reason to be too horrible. Hindley: a crazy drunk.

    Can someone explain to me why these characters (namely Heathcliffe, Cathy Sr., and Hindley) turned out so badly as adults? I mean, they grew up in nice households. Did they all just have crazy genes?
    They didn't grow up in a nice households. How so, if you identified every single character as gross or spoiled. Anyways, it is obvious that Emily didnt went down to the Rousseau theory that education alone would form character. Her world is twisted, full of gray areas. While Heathcliff is vengenceful because of how he was treated and he causes everything to go bad, thus making most characters be weak or spiteful, the ending shows that you can break the chain.

    This now brings me to Hareton. Honestly, I think that he is only semi-likeable character in the entire book - which is a bit of a plot hole. Despite his crazy outbursts (a result of his upbringing), he seems like a kind person, shown through his actions towards young Cathy, and his loyalty to Heathcliffe. What made him like this? He was the son of crazy Hindley, and grew up being abused by Healthcliffe - doesn't seem like a good formula to me. And yet, he ended up "better" than all of the other characters, who I believe had pretty decent upbringings - it just doesn't make sense. Was Hindley's wife (Hareton's mother) simply an extremely kind person? That's the only thing I can think of as an explanation for his random positive traits, which were foreign characteristics within this novel. I know it's not likely because Hindley's wife played such a minor role, but what else could it be?

    Any thoughts?
    Yes, Wuttering Height is a great book that pretty much explores the psychology of many characters without giving an easy answer. Heathcliff is wicked and as long he is near, he can ruin anything he touches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    They didn't grow up in a nice households. How so, if you identified every single character as gross or spoiled. Anyways, it is obvious that Emily didnt went down to the Rousseau theory that education alone would form character. Her world is twisted, full of gray areas. While Heathcliff is vengenceful because of how he was treated and he causes everything to go bad, thus making most characters be weak or spiteful, the ending shows that you can break the chain.
    Heathcliffe is the one I have the largest problem with here. Mr. Earnshaw gave him everything he wanted, and he had Cathy as a best friend. I never got the impression that he was treated badly. Cathy, too. Hindley is maybe the only one who deserves a little sympathy, having been shoved to side by Heathcliffe.

    I don't dislike the book. It was definitely an exciting read, but just very different from what I'm used to.
    Last edited by Laura Clarke; 12-05-2015 at 03:17 PM.

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    I thought young Cathy was a likable character, although she did not initially appear so to Mr Lockwood. She nursed the horrid Linton Heathcliff, which probably meant helping him go to the toilet, because no one else was going to. Heathcliff's nastiness may in part be due to his nature, but also due to his mistreatment by his adoptive brother. Nell is a likeable character.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Heathcliff didnt had everything he wanted (he wanted Cathy). Now, when Heathcliff was taken home, he was already a victim of mistreat, Cathy and her brother bullied him and her brother always treated him like a servant boy. And his relationship with Cathy had 500 shades of grey.

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    They bullied him at first, but pretty quickly he and Catherine became best friends and kind of isolated Hindley. And sure, Hindley treated him poorly, but Heathcliffe is equally guilty in that regard - it was a mutual feud. So he had both the support of Mr. Earnshaw and Cathy as a child - not too bad.

    Yes, he didn't get Cathy in the end, but would that disappointment really drive him to hang dogs, marry a women for her money and then make her so miserable that she runs away, physically abuse his own son, keep a women hostage until she agrees to do what he wants...?
    Last edited by Laura Clarke; 12-05-2015 at 10:23 PM.

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    A sadistic, necrophiliac fantasy?
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laura Clarke View Post
    They bullied him at first, but pretty quickly he and Catherine became best friends and kind of isolated Hindley. And sure, Hindley treated him poorly, but Heathcliffe is equally guilty in that regard - it was a mutual feud. So he had both the support of Mr. Earnshaw and Cathy as a child - not too bad.

    Yes, he didn't get Cathy in the end, but would that disappointment really drive him to hang dogs, marry a women for her money and then make her so miserable that she runs away, physically abuse his own son, keep a women hostage until she agrees to do what he wants...?
    C'mom, read chapter four. Heathcliff was hated by everyone but Cathy (hardly the most caring partner someone can have), even Nelly and Hindley spanked him often. It was a hellish place for him.

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    Heathcliff is an excellent illustration of the way a person's inborn character traits interact with his environment to produce the person that he is. Mr. Earnshaw brings him to the house when he's a child a little older than 6 year old Cathy, so who knows what neglect and abuse he suffered up to that point? Once in the House he is regarded as a cuckoo in the nest and resented accordingly by Mrs. Earnshaw and Hindley. Mr. Earnshaw's doting does not help. Heathcliff already has a tendency to be manipulative and vengeful. A lot of the story is about how he is brutalized by Hindley and how he pays him back.

    Laura, you may be interested in Charlotte Bronte's introduction to Wuthering Heights http://www.thegreatbooks.org/library...ering_pref.htm In true big-sisterly fashion she didn't quite approve of the characters and the amoral nature of the book, but she does it justice in the end, especially in this beautiful final paragraph - "'Wuthering Heights' was hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely materials. The statuary found a granite block on a solitary moor; gazing thereon, he saw how from the crag might be elicited a head, savage, swart, sinister; a form moulded with at least one element of grandeur - power. He wrought with a rude chisel, and from no model but the vision of his meditations. With time and labour, the crag took human shape; and there it stands colossal, dark, and frowning, half statue, half rock: in the former sense, terrible and goblin-like; in the latter, almost beautiful, for its colouring is of mellow grey, and moorland moss clothes it; and heath, with its blooming bells and balmy fragrance, grows faithfully close to the giant's foot.
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    C'mom, read chapter four. Heathcliff was hated by everyone but Cathy (hardly the most caring partner someone can have), even Nelly and Hindley spanked him often. It was a hellish place for him.
    I reread chapter 4 - and I definitively see the "negative sheen" Bronte was illustrating over Heathcliffe's childhood. Yes, they all hated him... at first. But, Catherine became is best friend and Nellie sort of came around, so Heathcliff was never completely isolated from human kindness - he shouldn't have grown up to be such a monster.

    In all honesty, I see Hindley as the victim here. Here, as first born son, I'm sure he was initially treated very nicely. However, once Heathcliff entered the picture, Hindley lost the affection/friendship of his father, sister, and Nellie to Heathcliffe. Mrs. Earnshaw dies pretty quickly in the book, so I wouldn't count her as one of Hindley's allies. From this perspective, I can definitively see why he would mistreat Heathcliff, and then grow up "messed up." I found it interesting that he really broke down after his wife died - possibly the only person who ever truly showed him affection?

    I think that Hindley was, in a way, more miserable than Heathcliff as a child.
    Last edited by Laura Clarke; 12-18-2015 at 10:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mona amon View Post
    Laura, you may be interested in Charlotte Bronte's introduction to Wuthering Heights http://www.thegreatbooks.org/library...ering_pref.htm In true big-sisterly fashion she didn't quite approve of the characters and the amoral nature of the book, but she does it justice in the end, especially in this beautiful final paragraph - "'Wuthering Heights' was hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely materials. The statuary found a granite block on a solitary moor; gazing thereon, he saw how from the crag might be elicited a head, savage, swart, sinister; a form moulded with at least one element of grandeur - power. He wrought with a rude chisel, and from no model but the vision of his meditations. With time and labour, the crag took human shape; and there it stands colossal, dark, and frowning, half statue, half rock: in the former sense, terrible and goblin-like; in the latter, almost beautiful, for its colouring is of mellow grey, and moorland moss clothes it; and heath, with its blooming bells and balmy fragrance, grows faithfully close to the giant's foot.
    Thanks mona, it was an interesting read.

    I loved this part: "Heathcliff betrays one solitary human feeling, and that is NOT his love for Catherine; which is a sentiment fierce and inhuman: a passion such as might boil and glow in the bad essence of some evil genius [...] No; the single link that connects Heathcliff with humanity is his rudely-confessed regard for Hareton Earnshaw - the young man whom he has ruined; and then his half-implied esteem for Nelly Dean. These solitary traits omitted, we should say he was child neither of Lascar nor gipsy, but a man's shape animated by demon life - a Ghoul - an Afreet."

    - Fantastic. Heathcliff's minor affections toward Nellie and Hareton are definitively overlooked in the book - We usually focus Heathcliff's animalistic passion for Catherine when we think about his "positive" (I can't think of a better word) relationships with other characters. But now that I think about it, those 2 are truly the only connections of him to being human, not the whole "Catherine obsession."

    Something that sparked my interest: "For an example of constancy and tenderness, remark that of Edgar Linton. (Some people will think these qualities do not shine so well incarnate in a man as they would do in a woman, but Ellis Bell could never be brought to comprehend this notion: nothing moved her more than any insinuation that the faithfulness and clemency, the long-suffering and loving-kindness which are esteemed virtues in the daughters of Eve, become foibles in the sons of Adam. She held that mercy and forgiveness are the divinest attributes of the Great Being who made both man and woman, and that what clothes the Godhead in glory, can disgrace no form of feeble humanity."

    It's funny, I had always been under the impression that Emily had some sort of attraction to the savage Heathcliff, with him being her "unrealistic fantasy." But this is pretty interesting. Edgar Linton encompasses these characteristics that Emily appreciates, with Heathcliff being the absolute opposite. Hmm...
    Last edited by Laura Clarke; 12-18-2015 at 10:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laura Clarke View Post
    First off all, why did Bronte make pretty much every single character not likeable? I mean, even the two central characters, Cathy and Heathcliffe (I mean, I think they were... Not Cathy so much because she was dead for the second part of the book, but anyway...) were disgusting. Heathcliffe - well, I think that that is pretty self-explanatory (abusive, cruel, insensitive, sadistic). Cathy - self-centered, mercurial, superficial. I mean, come on. Can anyone honestly tell me who the protagonist is?
    I loved the book and would disagree with your characterisation of Catherine and Heathcliff. Emily Bronte makes no explicit judgement on the pair because happenings are relayed by less than reliable narrators. An insightful Catherine soon finds herself trapped in a slowly-closing societal vice from which there is no escape. While she loves Heathcliff, society makes marriage or living-in-sin with him unpalatable. Besides, Heathcliff is psychologically risky, as we see so clearly later. As she is slowly crushed, Cathy protests defiantly against the unfairness in her class-ridden and male-dominated world, and the unfairness of life itself. She dies defiant, and has my sympathy and admiration.

    As for the intelligent Heathcliff, the unfairness of his world, was clear to him from a traumatic infancy onward. He is damaged goods. But like Cathy, he fights back, without boundaries. For better or for worse, they both rise above and openly defy a complaisant society determined to smother them. Like many an Ibsen play, Bronte's commentary on society is biting and her psychological portraits acute and unvarnished. The two portraits seem almost existential.

    In the end, they lie together unashamedly for all eternity.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laura Clarke View Post
    I reread chapter 4 - and I definitively see the "negative sheen" Bronte was illustrating over Heathcliffe's childhood. Yes, they all hated him... at first. But, Catherine became is best friend and Nellie sort of came around, so Heathcliff was never completely isolated from human kindness - he shouldn't have grown up to be such a monster.

    In all honesty, I see Hindley as the victim here. Here, as first born son, I'm sure he was initially treated very nicely. However, once Heathcliff entered the picture, Hindley lost the affection/friendship of his father, sister, and Nellie to Heathcliffe. Mrs. Earnshaw dies pretty quickly in the book, so I wouldn't count her as one of Hindley's allies. From this perspective, I can definitively see why he would mistreat Heathcliff, and then grow up "messed up." I found it interesting that he really broke down after his wife died - possibly the only person who ever truly showed him affection?

    I think that Hindley was, in a way, more miserable than Heathcliff as a child.
    Hindley is not a good person and there is no indication he did lost anything from his father, plus as soon heathcliff arrives, Hindley already treats him badly. It is Cathy that changes to like Heathcliff with time. Hidley mistreatment of Heathcliff was not caused by Heathcliff at all. Lets face it, he was a spoiled brat as much as Cathy was.

    Anyways, you just discovered that in all world, 2 individuals didnt hated Heathcliff and you think he shouldnt be a monster of sorts? Specially considering this hatred kept him from being accepted by society and lose Cathy? And those two individuals, one is Cathy, hardly a person that brings the best from someone and she is a rose with very sharp thorns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    An insightful Catherine soon finds herself trapped in a slowly-closing societal vice from which there is no escape. While she loves Heathcliff, society makes marriage or living-in-sin with him unpalatable. Besides, Heathcliff is psychologically risky, as we see so clearly later. As she is slowly crushed, Cathy protests defiantly against the unfairness in her class-ridden and male-dominated world, and the unfairness of life itself. She dies defiant, and has my sympathy and admiration.
    I would agree with this if it hadn't for the part where Cathy starts to ignore Heathcliff and chase after Edgar.

    I found the spot in chapter 8 where Heathcliff asks Cathy to spend more time with him: ‘And should I always be sitting with you?’ she demanded, growing more irritated. ‘What good do I get? What do you talk about? You might be dumb, or a baby, for anything you say to amuse me, or for anything you do, either!’
    ‘You never told me before that I talked too little, or that you disliked my company, Cathy!’ exclaimed Heathcliff, in much agitation.
    ‘It’s no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,’ she muttered.


    That doesn't seem like society is forcing her to do anything. Her own free will is what gets in the way of their relationship. When she dies, I would argue that she dies mistakenly unhappy with how everyone has treated her, while in reality, she brought it all upon herself.

    As for the intelligent Heathcliff, the unfairness of his world, was clear to him from a traumatic infancy onward. He is damaged goods. But like Cathy, he fights back, without boundaries. For better or for worse, they both rise above and openly defy a complaisant society determined to smother them. Like many an Ibsen play, Bronte's commentary on society is biting and her psychological portraits acute and unvarnished. The two portraits seem almost existential.

    In the end, they lie together unashamedly for all eternity.
    Heathcliff is definitively intelligent - I'll give you that. And damaged? Absolutely. But fighting back: I would say that there is a difference between that, and trying to destroy everything in your path. Perhaps Hindley (from a twisted perspective) deserved what Heathcliff did to him because of there feud, but did Hareton? And maybe Heathcliff couldn't control his hatred for Edgar, but to take it out on poor Isabel? And then young Cathy? The "society" Heathcliff targets is not the society that smothered him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Anyways, you just discovered that in all world, 2 individuals didnt hated Heathcliff and you think he shouldnt be a monster of sorts?
    Two words:

    Jane Eyre (my favorite book ).

    Sorry to stray a bit, but I see a nice parallel here. Both Heathcliff and Jane were raised in a family who didn't want them. Both were outcasts. Both were abused. In fact, I would say that Jane had it worse because she didn't even have a friend at Gateshead, while Heathcliff had Cathy.

    And yet, what did Jane do? She worked hard, found a means to provide for herself independently, and lived virtuously. She even forgave her aunt for her mistreatment.

    Heathcliff, on the other hand, grows up and gets revenge on all who were previously unkind to him, and then ruins the lives of a bunch of other people for good measure.

    Their situations are very similar, and yet we see two polar opposite responses. Heathcliff's environment as a child was not perfect, I'll agree to that. Did he ever feel hated by everyone? Perhaps... but Jane experienced the same thing! Heathcliff's environment does not excuse him for the monster he becomes because we can clearly see that it's not the only option available to him...
    Last edited by Laura Clarke; 12-19-2015 at 11:32 PM.

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