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Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

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#21 OFFLINE   lunababymoonchild

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 07:32 AM

I'm somewhere in chapter 17 and there does seem to be a lot of emotional upheaval for such a remote place.



#22 OFFLINE   lunababymoonchild

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 01:03 PM

Just found out that it's Emily Brontë's birthday tomorrow. She was born in 1818

#23 OFFLINE   Dan

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 02:29 PM

Just found out that it's Emily Brontë's birthday tomorrow. She was born in 1818

Well that is certainly interesting timing, Luna!
I am having a hard time getting Wuthering Heights out of my mind, which is, I suppose, one of the definitions of a great novel, though this feels more like an infection to me. And I can't help being struck by the chance aspect of Heathcliff overhearing only part of Catherine's soliloquy to Nelly about her mixed feelings after Edgar asked her to marry him. That one moment, when Heathcliff chanced to hear a negative comment, and chose to leave before he could have heard her professions of love, irrevocably changed the fortunes of those two families. Ah, the seemingly random nature of Fate!
As for my question of why Emily Bronte wrote the book she did I have a pair of conjoined conjectures. For one thing it seems she found happiness somewhat uninteresting. The 'happiest 12 years of my life' according to Nelly, the time between Cathy's birth/ Catherine's death and Isabella's passing, rate only a few paragraphs. The glorious freedom Catherine and Heathcliff enjoyed rambling on the moors, establishing that bond which each carried to their death, only gets brief mentions.(And is not utilized very well, at least for me, to promote sympathy and empathy for them, positive feelings I really could have used as a balance to their atrocious behavior later in life.) It seems possible to me that Emily found her own life, and the staid people in it, to be boring, and therefore chose to explore more passionate and conflicted ones.
And then there is the tragedy and loss in her life, which even for that time period seems extreme. In the first seven years of her life she lost her mother to cancer, and two sisters to TB, a disease from which she also suffered, and which took her life at 30, and killed her sister Anne a few month later. It seems likely that she felt a certain rage about these losses, and about a society in general which did not allow her the freedom or respect of a man, one so misogynist that she felt she had to publish under the pseudonym 'Ellis Bell' to be taken seriously. My guess is that she herself was not comfortable with the depth of her spite and so channeled it through Heathcliff and Hindley Earnshaw.
Further, it appears the the character of Catherine was an honest, if somewhat idealized, portrait of herself.
All of which leads me to believe that the writing of this novel was not a labor of love, but an act of vengeance against the cruelty and vicissitudes of life and society, and that having purged herself to some degree she could see at least the possibility of the triumph of light over darkness, and this allowed her to bring some semblance of peace back to Wuthering Heights.
But all this is,of course, merely my speculation as the result of an evening's musings. It is probable that those who have studied at length this book and Emily's life have vastly different interpretations. This is just me trying to find a way to heal myself of this novel.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one- Albert Einstein

#24 OFFLINE   momac

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 03:15 PM

Am thinking that I'll not participate in this particular group read as I have done a fair bit of watching the US conventions, CNN news and newspapers telling of what's happening around the world, all of which have been a bit of a downer for me without reading about the malice and nastiness in Ms. Bronte's novel, although it's of literary interest.

However, there is an upside to this in that seeing the novel on printed paper made me realize that I miss 'real' books and think that more library visits are in order. The print and punctuation on paper seem to set out more of a word picture.

I still have WH on my reading table and will probably read some more but won't have much in depth commentary to add to the discussion.

#25 OFFLINE   Dan

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 03:53 PM

I just read through the original thread on WH, and found that most opinions diverged significantly from mine. So please don't just take my word for what's in this book, Momac!
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one- Albert Einstein

#26 OFFLINE   lunababymoonchild

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 04:11 PM

As I said, if anybody at all is unhappy reading Wuthering Heights then feel free to put it down and read something else. Or take your time with it. This discussion section will remain open and everybody is welcome to comment however far into the future it is. As I recall Clavain said he might have a go at it in August. I'll be here (probably still trying to figure it out!)

It has come as a complete surprise to me but I am enjoying it and want to see how it ends.

I also posted links which may be of interest.

#27 OFFLINE   momac

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 04:32 PM

Dan, I think I have posted in the past that I mostly read for entertainment although I have read more serious writing along the way, but historical has never really appealed, particularly in the way casual punishment seems to be acceptable as a way of life. I feel a bit claustrophobic when encountering tales of squalid surroundings, stringent rules about religious practice especially when it doesn't improve anyone's behaviour and the lack of common courtesy. Maybe I'd prefer looking through rose tinted glasses and I seem to need goodness to prevail always. Yes, your review did have an impact but I think I wasn't totally committed to begin with so it didn't take much convincing that it wouldn't be a favourite read of mine.

#28 OFFLINE   Barblue

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 06:57 PM

I have started to read and have reached Chapter VI.  It has taken me a few chapters to get used to to prose, but I do appreciate what a wonderful vocabulary Emile Bronte had - and she used it so well.  I am still left feeling so frustrated at the characters and at a loss still to understand why this book is so valued as a great novel.  However, I am going to read it through again (this will be the third time for me) and see whether I can get any more out of it.  

 

Some of your comments Dan have helped a lot - both the negative and the positive.  In fact I'm coming to the conclusion at the moment that the physical and psychological profiles of the characters are EB's strength. What I have never understood is why the story as a whole is such a great one.  The confusion over names does not help me either despite having read a great explanation in the forward notes in my copy.  


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#29 OFFLINE   Ting Mikyunyu

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Posted 30 July 2016 - 12:46 PM

Am thoroughly enjoying all your commentaries, folks. Thank you. (Am not re/reading it, 'cos I remember not wanting to read it again after I read it the first time.)


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#30 OFFLINE   lunababymoonchild

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Posted 31 July 2016 - 10:13 AM

Welcome aboard Ting.

 

I'm up to chapter 24 so not long until I finish.  I must admit that I find the behaviour exhibited by all of the characters very strange and I am assuming that it's not usual behaviour for the people of the time/district.  It took me longer than usual to get used to the prose and I'm not as enamoured by it as I had hoped to be.  Like Dan and Barblue I'm finding it hard, so far, to understand why it's considered to be such as Classic but I may well be missing something, I also have no idea why Lord of the Rings is so fondly regarded and gave up reading it half way through as I thought it was boring.  I'll finish Wuthering Heights because I am actually enjoying it.  Perhaps the whole book will come together in the end for me and make everything clear.


Edited by lunababymoonchild, 31 July 2016 - 10:15 AM.


#31 OFFLINE   Binker

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 07:31 PM

I'm almost halfway done with this book and remembering each day why it was one of my favorites (and not just because there was a recent production where the delectable Tom Hardy played Heathcliff, sadly encumbered by a terrible wig).  I'm formulating some sort of theory about people suffering from following social convention and ignoring the true nature of those around them rather than being true to themselves, but I'm not sure where I'm going with it yet, so I will wait until I've finished to the book to see if it rings true.  

 

I find both Heathcliff and Catherine much more sympathetic than most of the rest of you seem to.  In the perfect world, old Mr. Earnshaw would have left something valuable to Heathcliff as to a younger son (I don't think inheritance laws would have permitted him to bypass Hindley altogether). I'm not saying that I think Heathcliff was his illegitimate son, although you could sort of see how that might have been possible, but that his love for Mr. Earnshaw was greater than the love of either of his children.  Then Heathcliff and Catherine could have married without concern for money and been one of those couples who love each other more than they love their own children.  Instead, Mr. Earnshaw has to leave his money to the odious Hindley, Catherine has to marry the pathetic Edgar, and Heathcliff has to go earn his money in some unspecified manner.  When he returns, it's clear that both he and Catherine are about driven around the bend by the fact that it's too late for them.  They aren't either of them well-suited to placidly accepting their situation.  And things only get worse emotionally from there.  

 

More when I'm done.



#32 OFFLINE   lunababymoonchild

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Posted 02 August 2016 - 09:18 PM

i have finished the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but don't understand why it's held to be one of the greatest books ever written.  I still find it hard to believe, even fictionally, that characters can behave like that, although I'm sure that life in such a barren wilderness was both hard and short.



#33 OFFLINE   Clavain

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 09:11 AM

Finished the book over the weekend and must admit to feeling a little relief/happiness in finally finishing it. 

I began the book honestly believing the book to be some kind of "tragic love story" in the vein of Romeo and Juliet or maybe a little similar to her sisters book Jane Eyre. During the second part of the story related by Ellen Dean I soon saw the story was a lot darker than I expected.

It turned into a "cruel revenge" story where status, position and breeding seemed to matter more than anything and the way people are treated seemed to mirror the bleak desolate setting,

No regrets on reading the book, but not one I would advise anyone else to read.

Managed to find an answer to why the story was set half a century from when she wrote the book. Emily Bronte was born and grew up during the Romantic period and started writing the book at the beginning of the Victorian period.Her life straddled both periods and she reflected this in the book. Fascinating essay here. http://it.stlawu.edu...view/2005/6.htm


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#34 OFFLINE   Binker

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 08:50 PM

I finished this last night and really liked it.  I am still mulling my thoughts about "what does it all mean" and will post later if I decide.



#35 OFFLINE   Barblue

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 09:02 AM

Despite being on holiday last week with granddaughters I have managed to get through about two-thirds of the book.  This is my third time of reading although those readings were a few decades ago.  This time I am seeing it in a totally different light.  

 

The first thing I am struck by is that the majority of the book is Mrs. Dean's recollections of years gone by.  How much of an unreliable narrator is Mrs. Dean I keep asking myself?  Then if some of what Mrs. Dean says is true, I am left looking at Catherine and Heathcliff as very spoilt children/people indeed.  This has put a totally new perspective on the whole story for me and making is a much better read than my previous ones.


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#36 OFFLINE   Dan

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 03:54 PM

I must admit it never occurred to me that Nelly Dean might have been an 'unreliable narrator '. In fact I felt like she was the voice for sanity, kindness and reason in the story. Usually when I feel that way about a narrator it is because there are either obvious contradictions or obviously self serving motivations in their narration, and none of Nelly's narration struck me that way. Plus it seems like more of a modern storytelling technique. But if she was exaggerating, or even just being very selective (and there was certainly selectivity occurring, a real tendency to focus on the negative) then that might change the whole dynamic of the tale.

Edited by Dan, 07 August 2016 - 03:56 PM.

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