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18th Jun 2014

Her Classic Book Of The Week… Wuthering Heights

A romantic epic.

Sue Murphy

With our hectic lives and all of the new books that we are trying to keep on top of, we can often forget about the classics, those books that we loved to re-visit or the books that we just haven’t got to quite yet. Every week, we pick a classic book of the week that is a favourite of ours in the office. This week we take a look at the tragic romance, Wuthering Heights.

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”

Since we featured the wonderful novel that is Jane Eyre, we decided to keep it in the family and talk about Emily Bronte’s masterpiece, the tragically romantic Wuthering Heights. Written in 1845 and 1846, the novel is the only published book by Emily Bronte who died aged 30 after its release. Although many considered Charlotte’s book to be the better of the sister’s work, Wuthering Heights is now worshipped as one of the best books from the last century.

The novel centres around Heathcliff and Cathy who are introduced to each other as children. Catherine’s father, Mr. Earnshaw, discovers Heathcliff while on a trip to Liverpool. Orphaned and hungry, Earnshaw takes pity on him and adopts him as his own. While growing up at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and Catherine become incredibly close and though they would never admit it, fall in love.


However, when Catherine is sent away to live with another family, the Lintons, things take a turn for the worst. Although she agrees to marry Edgar Linton, she doesn’t love him and is convinced that social ranking and education are far more important than her consuming love for Heathcliff. When Heathcliff learns of her plans to marry, he disappears, devastated by the news.

When he returns, he is rich but heartbroken from Cathy’s coldness and inability to ignore his previous social situation. He elopes with Edgar’s sister but when he returns to Wuthering Heights and finds Cathy extremely ill, he secretly visits her.

Wuthering Heights is certainly not your classic love story. In fact, it is more a tale of love gone wrong, jealousy, abandonment, pain, loss and deep sorrow. It is also a very stark reflection on the society that Bronte came from, a society that was obsessed with social standing and inheritance. It seems that even though Heathcliff and Cathy love each other deeply, their marriage could never be accepted by Cathy if she wished to advance her place in society, a notion that matters little towards the end of the book.

What will strike you most on reading Wuthering Heights is the unbelievable imagery, the moors are described in such detail that they themselves become a character in the book, mirroring Heathcliff’s anger, loss, desperation and despair.

If that last chapter doesn’t break your heart, we don’t know what else to tell you. This truly is a book you can read over and over again. Our hearts have been broken forever.