My students are given the opportunity to blog about the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for extra credit. The following is an extra credit post received by Brad Mattingly, a sophomore at Jefferson Community & Technical College.
In 1847, Emily Bronte published Wuthering Heights and the world was introduced to the love story of Heathcliff and Catherine. Some people thought the book was inappropriate and depicted too much cruelty and passion.
The book opens with Lockwood writing in his diary describing his first couple of days as a tenant at Thrushcross Grange. He describes a meeting with Heathcliff at his home Wuthering Heights when he is left in a room with mean dogs only to be helped by a housekeeper.
Lockwood goes to meet Heathcliff again at his home but he is not there. While in his home he spots a young woman who is very beautiful but he assumes this must be Heathcliff’s wife but she in turn ends up being his daughter-in-law. When he leaves the home he lets a man know he is taking a lantern, because it is snowing and dark, but promises to return it when Joseph assumes he has stolen the lantern and releases the dogs on him. He is led back to the home by housekeeper to stay for the night.
While he is in the bedroom he notices the name Catherine etched into some paint with three different names at the end Earnshaw, Linton and Heathcliff. He also discovers a diary belonging to Catherine Earnshaw and reads an entry about her father passing away and how her brother hated her good friend Heathcliff. He then falls into a series of nightmares that cause him to break a window. Heathcliff runs into the room and Lockwood exclaims the the room is haunted.
Lockwood then falls into a pit of loneliness and his housekeeper Nelly tries to clarify things for him on the three different Catherines. She also tells him about Mr Earnshaw growing to love Heathcliff more than his own son Hindley which in turn causes Hindley to resent Heathcliff.
Mr Earnshaw falls ill and becomes more and more weak and frail and eventually becomes disgusted by the fighting between Heathcliff and Hindley and sends Hindley away to college. Soon after Mr Earnshaw dies, Heathcliff and Catherine turn to their religious beliefs as they await Hindley’s return.
Hindley returns and is the new controller of Wuthering Heights along with his wife Frances, at which time Hindley decides that Heathcliff can not receive an education any more and must do common labor work. One night when Catherine and Heathcliff sneak off, Hindley notices and locks them out forbidding anyone to let them back into the home.
Catherine is attacked by a dog on their night out and spends five weeks recuperating at the Grange. Once Catherine returns to Wuthering Heights, Hindley insists that Heathcliff treat her like any other servant which leads Catherine to tell Heathcliff he is dirty compared to the Linton kids.
Catherine eventually starts spending more and more time with Edgar and acting like a true lady should, but once she is with Heathcliff again it’s the same behavior as always. Hindley’s wife has a child and Frances later dies.
Heathcliff eventually decides to seek out revenge for the way he has been treated by Hindley and the betrayal of Catherine because as deeply as he loves her it drives him mad that she spends so much time with Edgar.
As Catherine lay dying she exclaims that Edgar and Heathcliff have both broke her heart and that she will not die while Heathcliff remains alive. She begs Heathcliff for his forgiveness but he will not forgive her and lets her know that her behavior caused her to commit murder on herself and he refuses to forgive a murderer.
Catherine gives birth to young Catherine prematurely and later dies. Hindley does not attend his sister’s funeral. Young Catherine moves into Grange without any knowledge of Heathcliff.
Edgar begins to fall ill and Catherine has to care for him. Young Catherine then starts spending some time around Linton her cousin and Heathcliff’s son and Heathcliffs explains he hopes someday she and his son will marry.
Edgar eventually dies and in death he is left with the belief that Catherine has married Linton and will be safe.
To show her well meaning, Catherine gives Hareton a book and promises she will teach him to read. After giving Hareton the book Heathcliff and Catherine begin to argue about her relationship with Hareton. As more and more time passes Heathcliff falls ill and refuses to eat and he is eventually found dead by Nelly.
In the book while Heathcliff is a man in love he also becomes a villian who is abusive and hateful. Why would someone want to write such a story? Why wouldn’t Hindley come to Catherine’s funeral? Why didn’t Heathcliff ever get over his anger toward Catherine?
Thanks, Brad, for introducing us to this book. These questions are certainly good ones! Happy Reading!