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Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

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#21 OFFLINE   Amanda Grange

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 03:37 PM

Interestingly, we don't know how Heathcliff made his money


Nelly says at one point that she thought he had perhaps gone for a soldier, because he had that kind of bearing. Presumably he made his money from gambling, but who knows?

I don't agree with the idea of Cathy as a class traitor because she doesn't really want to marry Edgar, she only contemplates it because she wants his money so she can get Heathcliff away from Hindley. It's an interesting moral conundrum. Nelly's shocked, but to Cathy it seems perfectly logical. Also, she doesn't marry Edgar until Heathcliff has been gone for 3 years, which doesn't show an inclination to move up in the world, so to speak.

He emerges as the disruptive outsider and disappears in the same way leaving the world fundamentally changed

This is really interesting, because I've always seen it as the opposite. He comes in like a storm, but once he's dead the natural order reasserts itself. The last 2 paragraphs, which I think are some of the most poetic and beautiful in the English language, suggest that everything is at peace again:

Spoiler


#22 OFFLINE   Cathy

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 06:36 PM

Nelly says at one point that she thought he had perhaps gone for a soldier, because he had that kind of bearing. Presumably he made his money from gambling, but who knows?

I don't agree with the idea of Cathy as a class traitor because she doesn't really want to marry Edgar, she only contemplates it because she wants his money so she can get Heathcliff away from Hindley. It's an interesting moral conundrum. Nelly's shocked, but to Cathy it seems perfectly logical. Also, she doesn't marry Edgar until Heathcliff has been gone for 3 years, which doesn't show an inclination to move up in the world, so to speak.


This is really interesting, because I've always seen it as the opposite. He comes in like a storm, but once he's dead the natural order reasserts itself. The last 2 paragraphs, which I think are some of the most poetic and beautiful in the English language, suggest that everything is at peace again:

Spoiler



Uh, oh, Spoiler probems again?

#23 OFFLINE   Ade

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 06:44 PM

Hmmm, I'm thinking again about the ending. I think Heathcliff did cause change, but perhaps, in spite of himself, it ended up being for good. The world of strict class divisions at the beginning of the novel has changed to one where the two worlds can co-exist in harmony, so I think Heathcliff did change attitudes - it's almost a process of thesis, antithesis, synthesis (to continue a Marxist train of thought). And the closed windows of both houses at the beginning become open and free by the end. The Earnshaws and Lintons are finally united before their common foe - Heathcliff.

I think it's also interesting that the class divisions are reflected in the dark and light imagery. The Lintons are, of course, characterised by their blue eyes and blond hair, while Heathcliff is so dark. I've read another critical interpretation that suggested that Heathcliff may actually have been black - an escaped slave from the Jamaican plantations. I find this a little too theatrical. But in another work, Eagleton again suggests that Heathcliff may have been Irish (escaping from the famine where Liverpool would have been an obvious destination) and this perhaps is more convincing contextually.

#24 OFFLINE   megustaleer

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 12:01 AM

More posts, retrieved from Google


Phoebus 28th December 2005 10:16 AM

I never read a novel voluntarily until I was 19. I was waiting for an appointment somewhere and with a couple of hours to spare and wandered into a book shop, bought Wuthering Heights and started reading it. It knocked me for six and since then I've never stopped reading, catching up on all those lost years.

WH is by far the most depressing novel that I've ever read. Not because of the story itself but because of the conclusion about human nature. This is a novel that marked me for a long time and I'd say changed my life. I even split up with a girl that I'd being going out with for three years following an argument about its interpretation !
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Hilary 28th December 2005 06:22 PM

My goodness, life changing stuff. I've studied it too many times for it to hold much magic for me anymore but I do still love it as much as I can.
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David 10th March 2006 06:02 PM

Radio 4's Woman's Hour this week (yeah, Woman's Hour - ya got somethin' to say, buddy?!) featured what I'll describe as an animated discussion between two academics about whether Emily Bronte was inspired in her creation of Heathcliff by a real life infatuation or not. One academic believed her poems suggested a love for a weaver's son (well below a clergyman's daughter, doncha know!) who tragically died. The other contributor poured some very cold water on this indeed. It was interesting!

Anyway, this all worked by way of a trail for the Saturday afternoon play, which is drawn from the 'real life love' theory. Here's the blurb if you're interested in listening:

14:30
Saturday Play
Cold in the Earth and Fifteen Wild Decembers
By Sally Wainwright, based on a theory by Sarah Fermi.

Why did Emily Jane Brontë write Wuthering Heights? And how was she able to do it? In spite of the massive amount of material published about the Brontë sisters over the last 150 years, these two questions still remain unanswered. Yet given the large amount of autobiographical material in the novels of Charlotte and Anne Brontë, it is almost unthinkable that Emily would not have also used her own experience in the creation of her great book. How could she write so vividly about love, grief and hatred without having known these emotions in her own life?

This is a compelling drama about the story of Emily Brontë's socially transgressive love affair with a weaver's son.
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megustaleer 10th March 2006 06:33 PM

I just listened to the discussion..quite passionate at times.
Must try to listen to the play tomorrow, 'though as I haven't read WH, I probably will not pick up any connections.
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David 10th March 2006 08:35 PM

Originally Posted by megustaleer
I just listened to the discussion..quite passionate at times.


I should have thought to post a link to the listen again feature, so here it is:

Woman's Hour - Emily Bronte

This takes you to a page for that specific segment rather than the whole programme.
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Cathy 11th March 2006 06:33 PM

Originally Posted by megustaleer
I just listened to the discussion..quite passionate at times.
Must try to listen to the play tomorrow, 'though as I haven't read WH, I probably will not pick up any connections.



:eek: I'm shocked! We should make it a group read so it can get into your TBR pile!
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megustaleer 11th March 2006 10:32 PM
Didn't hear the play. Fell fast asleep after about ten minutes!

#25 OFFLINE   Momo

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 05:53 PM

I am sure I contributed to this and was just looking for more lost posts. But - I can't seem to find it! :cry: :cry:
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#26 OFFLINE   FirelightSpirit

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 03:00 PM

I'm very happy that I've finally read this. I started it once in my early teens and I couldn't get beyond the first few pages, but now that I have read it, I flew through it and enjoyed it so, so much.

It's certainly not a nice or a lovely book, but Brontë successfully isolates you in that remote setting with her characters and her words. There aren't many times when I have felt like I was in a place while reading, but this is one of them. She compels you to read.

Heathcliff is a fascinating and extraordinary character and everything about him fits with his surroundings, even his name. He is an outsider, but he belongs on the moors as much as Cathy, who is another extraordinary creation.

Regrding Ade's post above about Heathcliff's origin, I think he could have been Irish, though the famine that caused the mass exodus didn't happen until the 1840s, so too late for Heathcliff. He's referred to as having a gypsy's appearance, so perhaps he's of gypsy stock, or latin (it would fit with his tempestuous nature).

I thought the relationship between master and servant was interesting. It seemed more familiar than in Austen, possibly to do with the isolation from society. Ellen Dean was very much a friend to young Cathy and Edgar and wasn't afraid to speak on equal terms. And the fact that she was called 'Mrs' Dean interested me - I take it it was the done thing to call a housekeeper Mrs for the sake of respectability, like Mrs Danvers for instance.

Heathcliff's Cathy inhabits the second part of the book as much as the first, despite the fact that she's not physically present. It's here that the haunting nature of the book really comes to the fore, particularly when we are in company with Heathcliff. The joining of his soul with hers is one of the most powerful aspects of the book and how he suffers without her (he does, I think) is never really known by us. We're hearing of him from Mrs Dean and Lockwood, but imagine seeing it all through his eyes: that would have been shocking, probably too much so for the audience of the time. I wonder how they took to this watered down version of such a vicious, yet charismatic man.

Then we have young Cathy standing against him and his removal from society. He doesn't seem to have the heart to hurt her, though he says he wants to. It's interesting that, towards the end, we see more of her mother in her and Hareton than we saw before. It's also interesting that it's Cathy who is pitted against him.

It's an extremely complex book - my favourite kind :) - and there's so much to talk about with it. I agree that Emily, had she lived, would have outshone Charlotte. You can see her talent in just this one book. A new favourite and a new friend. :)

Now that I've finished it, perhaps Kate Bush will stop singing in my head. :)
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#27 OFFLINE   Nive

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 02:02 PM

Hello to all lovers of Wuthering Heights. I just want to let you know that this novel has inspired a marvellous ballet of the same name. The choreography is by Kader Belarbi and the music by Philippe Hersant. Commissioned by the Paris Opera, it was premiered in February 2002. Composed as an opera without words, or a vast symphonic poem, it does justice to the novel.

#28 OFFLINE   David

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 04:37 PM

Composed as an opera without words, or a vast symphonic poem, it does justice to the novel.

How interesting! I'm not normally someone who goes to the ballet, but I did enjoy Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet when I saw it several years ago and I think I would be intrigued to see how they handle Wuthering Heights.

Welcome to the group, Nive. Perhaps you'd like to tell us a bit more about yourself and your reading on the Please Introduce Yourself thread?

#29 OFFLINE   Phoebus

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 09:01 PM

In my opinion, it's the greatest novel in the canon of English literature.

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#30 OFFLINE   jfp

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 10:14 PM

No, not the greatest... but an awful lot of people's idiosyncratic favourite, I'll grant that.
I always think the most astounding thing about Wuthering Heights is how it got written in the middle of all that Victorian omniscient realism. I last re-read it a couple of summers ago, and it really weaves a very weird web indeed.

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#31 OFFLINE   David

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 10:23 PM

No, not the greatest...

Well, so says you, of course, though Phoebus would argue otherwise! ;)

It sounds like you'd have some clear ideas to contribute to the Greatest Novel thread, jfp. A question to which obviously there is no definitive answer and I suspect not even an uncontentious shortlist!

You can find the thread here.

#32 OFFLINE   jfp

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 10:26 PM

Yes, I should have added a symmetrical IMO to match Phœbus's...

I'll be checking the thread, David... but it may take some time... ;)

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#33 OFFLINE   Phoebus

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 10:47 AM

No, not the greatest... but an awful lot of people's idiosyncratic favourite, I'll grant that.


Can you expand, jfp? The reason I said the greatest (not the most enjoyable by any means) is because it is a book that can change your life. Few, if any other novels, fall into this category but none other so frequently and for so many people.

I don't want to sound pretentious but the book is a riddle with the response but with no solution. Those that no longer search for it, are the most likely to find it. If you have experienced what I'm talking about then you will know what I mean.

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#34 OFFLINE   David

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 11:24 AM

the book is a riddle with the response but with no solution. Those that no longer search for it, are the most likely to find it.

Gosh - I'm imagining you now in a small dusty cave high in the Himalayas with a little wispy beard and loincloth!

;)

I'd be quite interested if you expanded on that, Phoebus! There is certainly a mystical dimension to the book and it is emotionally charged in a quite extraordinary way, though as I noted earlier, far more in the first half.

As a book of personal significance I can see your claim for the greatest, though it didn't have the strength of impact with me that it seems to have had with you. I admire it hugely but I can't say it was life-changing. Perhaps I didn't read it in the right frame of mind? As I said, I'd be interested if you could say some more.

#35 OFFLINE   jfp

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 07:15 PM

it is a book that can change your life

I can't say it was life-changing

I'm slightly intrigued by the notion of a life-changing book... Does it merely change the way you think about your life... or does it involve the actual implementation of changes? I remember one book was life-changing for me in both ways, but it was something highly personal that I wouldn't want to develop here...

A friend of mine has a very personal thing with Wuthering Heights, and has been reading it again and again for years and years...

We don't need to read very far before we realise that this is a very different kind of Victorian novel:

[...] 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 soaked the bedclothes [...]

I still can't quite believe the nastiness of that... Cruelty in the strictest etymological sense of the word, i.e. delight in drawing blood...

And yet, much as I admire it for its unconventional structure and its treatment of unbridled passion, WH has never cast its spell over me in as complete a way as it clearly does over many people...

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#36 OFFLINE   Phoebus

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 08:03 PM

I'd be quite interested if you expanded on that, Phoebus!


On a very superficial level the book is just a love story, sold as well for children in an abridged form, but it is really a dark analysis of the psychology of human relationships, particularly sexual ones.

As an aside, implicit references are made at the beginning of the novel that Heath cliff (Catherine's alter ego) is the bastard child of Catherine's father, which would make Heathcliff the half brother of Catherine with the incestuous consequences that follow.

Each character represents an idiosyncratic type: Heathcliff the Bastard (pun intended); Edgar the Nice Guy, who could really take care of her; Catherine is the young girl's ideal of femininity (and sadly that of some older ones as well !). But does Catherine make the rational choice by choosing that man who would look after her best? Catherine is no Hamlet figure that is torn between reason and emotion ("Reason panders will") Reason does not pander will for Catherine. She is entirely irrational.

She chooses the person that is the most dangerous for her and it goes far beyond physical attraction - it is a need - to be abused. The ending is inevitable - it can be foreseen from the opening chapters of the novel - the true Greek definition of tragedy.

Catherine's actions and traits fall clearly within the psychiatric definition of a woman with a Histrionic Syndrome - often confused by modern society as representing a woman with admirable romantic traits.

The majority of people who read the novel believe that Catherine is a heroine deserving empathy for following her heart. This is the true tragedy. The dictionary definition of a heroine is "A woman noted for courage and daring action". But she follows her emotions blindly because she is weak - not because she is courageous. Neo-modern notions equate femininity with weakness. "Frailty thy name is woman" said Hamlet. An over simplistic interpretation of the novel only serves to prolong such stereotypes.

From the earliest of years we are indoctrinated into having an idiosyncratic perception of masculinity and femininity which are not entirely false but which are exaggerated- or at least perpetuated by false interpretations in literature. It is so much more complicated than that, that the reality fails to resemble what we have learnt at all.

The fact is, even when confronted with experiences that ought to destroy our naïve deep-rooted perceptions; we often refuse to abandon them - perhaps because they give us comfort in some way.

But then there is Wuthering Heights, when looked at in closer detail - a testament, to those prepared to see differently, that people ought not to function and think how we've been indoctrinated to believe.

I'm slightly intrigued by the notion of a life-changing book... Does it merely change the way you think about your life... or does it involve the actual implementation of changes?


Difficult question, jlp. My first response would have been that events follow differently in the sense that they would or would not have happened had the book not been read. But then I thought of accidently burning a cake because the book was so gripping and that simply doesn't work or at least it wasn't in this sense that I meant it to be taken, of course.

How about that it changes your perception of people and/or the world to the extent that it affects your decision making processes? In this sense I have WANTED the book to change my life although if I'm honest I don't know whether I have succeeded.
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#37 OFFLINE   Webby

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 03:18 PM

Have to say I really enjoyed this. Far more than I expected to in fact. I went in expecting something similar to an Austen novel, books I really struggle to get into. Probably didn't help that many people do seem to see it as a simple love story between Heathcliff and Catherine.

However, there is something very dark and sinister always going on beneath the surface. Even though he's a complete git, and you know you shouldn't, you can't help but sympathise with Heathcliff's torment. Despite the fact that many of his actions later in the novel are utterly indefensible when looked at objectively, the way he is treated as an outsider in his use gives some sense that he is driven to them.

Certainly has to be taken as a very separate entity from the simplistic (and quite frankly naff) films that seem to get made.
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#38 OFFLINE   Amanda Grange

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 05:02 PM

It's about time for a remake. How about dropping a word in the BBC's ear, Bill?
Richard Armitage would make a great Heathcliff and the girl who plays Marion would be a good Cathy - she looks right and they have brilliant on-screen chemistry. With a good script (I'm available :) ) it could be a definitive version.
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#39 OFFLINE   Hazel

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 07:05 PM

WH has never cast its spell over me in as complete a way as it clearly does over many people...


I think that sums up WH though. It does seem to cast a spell over people that is inexplicable. It is one of my favourite novels, maybe even my favourite, but I'd be hard pushed to say exactly why I love it so.

#40 OFFLINE   Hazel

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 07:08 PM

Richard Armitage would make a great Heathcliff


Of course, Richard Armitage played the Edgar-nice-guy character in the re-imagining of WH that the BBC did a few years ago, Sparkhouse. With Sarah Smart playing the Heathcliff character and Joe McFadden playing the Cathy character. It was a very modern re-working but I enjoyed it very much. Even bought it on DVD. Fans of WH should pick it up.





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