Wuthering Heights :: Week One

Welcome to the Wuthering Heights read-a-long! We’re reading this book through September and October. You can see the reading schedule and guidelines on the Starting Post Page.

Week One: Read to Chapter V


Welcome! Wow, we have quite a group for this one… very exciting. There are several new people and a lot of familiar ones as well. Those of you who are new: please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments section — the veterans are very friendly and helpful, and will often get you an answer even before I do! Also, don’t be afraid to join in on conversation threads, or even reply to someone else’s comment… the conversations are what make the reading together fun.

Everyone, please note that this book has always been controversial. At first it was thought crude and rough; so much so that no one believed that a woman had written it. Later (and even now) people tend to have very strong feelings about this book; most either love it or hate it. It is not known to be an easy read – but I suspect that will be what makes it worth reading together. I hope you all can hang in there until the end! I’ve only tried reading this book once, a few years ago (actually listened to it) and didn’t even make it to chapter seven. I happened to watch the movie version (which I mentioned in the sign ups) and loved it. I am really liking it so much more this time – and think, perhaps, it’s because I’m a little bit familiar with the characters. For that reason, you may want to print out this character list to help you if you get confused (click on the image to be taken to the website). I have a similar one at the beginning of my edition, but I know not everyone does. Also, if you click on the name of the character, a detailed page comes up with information about that person… very useful.

So far, I am loving the gothic nature of the novel. I started it last week when it was ninety degrees and sunny, but for the past two days it’s been very overcast and rainy… perfect for reading about ghosts on the moors!

We know little about our narrator so far, other than he is a somewhat shy man. His story about falling in love during his time by the seashore, but being unable to tell her and therefore losing her made a stark contrast between him and Heathcliff (who we later learn is very passionate – even if in a very rough way). There’s something of a gentleness, so far, to the narrator which he seems to expect from others as well. The fact that he has traveled to the “wild moor country” tells us that he is not from there. Perhaps Brontë was trying to set up the difference between those who are from near Wuthering Heights and those who are not? After meeting others from the household, he seems to feel superior to them… is this his ego being bruised (with Mrs. Heathcliff not finding him attractive and the others not being warm towards him) or is this also Brontë making a statement that people were prejudice to those who lived solitary lives in the more remote part of the country?

I adore how Mrs. Heathcliff scares Joseph by acting like she will invoke the devil on him (since he believes it’s possible, and she – evidently – does not). This shows us that not only is she clever, but, perhaps, not easily rattled. This is also shown in the fact that she doesn’t seem to fear Heathcliff. She stops reading by the fire only because she knows he can take her book – but she doesn’t move away from the fire (even though he wants her too) until he goes to hit her… and then she only moves out of his reach. So far, she might be my favorite character.

Ooooh the part where Catherine’s ghost is calling to the narrator to let her in!! so scary. I actually read that at night and freaked myself out a bit. I kept eyeing my bedroom window asking myself what I would do if a ghost started trying to come through… that was where I got myself into trouble. Not sure I’d have the cajones to rub its wrist against the broken glass – but then again one never knows how brave one will be when confronted by a ghost, right? Then (in a scene which might be sweet except for the fact that the vulnerability is so out of character for him that it becomes a bit creepy) Heathcliff goes in to beg Catherine to come inside… eek! I was SO relieved when our narrator (I keep calling him that because I can’t remember his name… were we ever given one?) finally got away and went back to the other residence in the morning. The contrast between Wuthering Heights’ dark loneliness and the warmth and homeyness of Thrushcross Grange is palpable. Even if we are disappointed with Mrs. Dean as a younger person, we already know that she understands what she did wrong, so we can feel comfortable with her.

Though we only have a little of Heathcliff’s story as we leave off this week, we can already start to discuss if we think his temperament is nature or nurture. We know he came from a very low place (both emotionally and physically), and being called “it” in a home where other children are called by their names doesn’t help – nor does having a (somewhat of a) foster brother who abuses him. However, we see that there is already a quietly manipulative side to him (the way he handles the horse situation). Is that because he is trying to survive, or is that because that’s what is in him already? Add that to Mrs. Dean saying that she was convinced he wasn’t vindictive, but that she was deceived… but can we trust her? Thoughts?

Who’s Reading Along:

** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly Wuthering Heights discussion (see below for more information).**

Patty @ A tale of three cities
Mary Ann
Meg @ A Bookish Affair
Sarah D
Kimberly Parker
Susan E
Ian Cann (@thebeercolonel)
Heather R (@dolleygurl)
Ashley J.
Nancy H
Adam Stone
Ruby Scarlett
SpyrosChrysikopoulos (@chryssiko)
Melissa Caldwell

Friendly Reminders:

  • If you are participating and I don’t have you on this list, please let me know in the comments section. I did not include people who said ‘maybe’ so if you have changed your mind and are definitely reading along with us, let me know so I can add you. Also, if you are not going to be able to join us anymore please let me know and I will take you off the list. 
  • Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon (before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then. 
  • Each week, on Friday, share your thoughts about the previous week’s reading. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “I’m catching up,” or “I’m still reading.” ***for all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
  • If you are a blogger you may post a link to your blog if you are posting about each of the each week’s reading. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog; however, you must make sure to share your thoughts here on this blogand be part of the main conversation or your comment will not be counted.
  • If you go for two weeks without commenting in my weekly update comments section, I will assume you are no longer participating and will take you off of the list (*NEW GUIDELINE*, in order to get back onthe list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list.). This is in no way to be discouraging, but helps to keep the read-a-long organized (and helps me remember who’s completed what read-a-long…there (ahem) might be something fun for different levels of participants at the end of the year! Thanks!

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124 thoughts on “Wuthering Heights :: Week One

  1. I love the chart with all the characters! This is my very first read along and I love reading your thoughts, a lot of things that I didn’t think about. I have read Wuthering Heights probably 15 years ago at least. I didn’t think I remembered much, but when I started reading that first page, it was like “oh yes!” and I believe reading it at this pace is so much more enjoyable! The good thing is I only remember after I read, so I don’t remember what is to come!

    Yes, that scary moment, “stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch: instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand!” got me too!

    Mr. Lockwood is the tenant and I like your observations about him and the other characters. Thank you! I’m definitely loving Wuthering Heights.

    • and I should add too that reading the B & N edition, has been a good thing because it explained some of the phrases I didn’t understand along with the conversation of characters that I couldn’t translate. It has definitely been a plus and makes it more enjoyable.

        • You know I need all the help I can get! :) No, seriously, I remember being confused a lot the first time I read WH. I’ve been reading this time on my daughter’s Nook and it really has a lot of notes that I have used.

      • I’m reading an annotated edition, too, and I’m SO glad I decided to. I don’t think I’d have figured out what the heck Joseph was saying on my own!

        I’m not quite through with this week’s reading but I hope to be up to speed within the next day or two, and completely caught up by next Friday. I’m trying to make myself read this more slowly so I can appreciate the writing, and man is it hard!

        Anyway, I’m struck by the description of Wuthering Heights as bleak, dreary, cold, etc. The other thing that I am a little fixated on is the dogs. Bronte spends a significant amount of time describing them, and Lockwood is more than a little upset by them (understandably, of course), so it makes me think that there’s some significance there. Symbolism or something. Maybe I’ll investigate that. Hmmm…

        • One of my favorite details about Lockwood is when he mistakes the pile of dead rabbits for kittens. Oy, that man! If I were a dog, I’d give him the business, too!

        • This is my third attempt at WH, and am so glad to be participating in a group! I started it again last year after finishing Jane Eyre for the first time (and wondering how I could have possibly relied on the movie versions for so long – LOVED IT!) Watching Tom Hardy as Heathcliff was also a definite motivation. He was a great Heathcliff.
          The descriptions of the dogs also struck me – the fact that there were so many references to them and in such great (creepy) detail. More than even the dark descriptions of Wuthering Heights, I felt that the dogs really added tension. Now I love dogs, but I definitely would not have wanted to be in the same room with these animals. Symbolic for how we’re supposed to feel about Heathcliff? Does anyone know if the Bronte’s had any animals in their lives?
          I feel little sympathy for Mr Lockwood so far. He shows up uninvited, then once sees an awful storm coming, is not smart enough to leave intime to be able to get home.

          • I read in Gaskell’s, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, that Emily had a ferocious bull dog that she beat with her bare hands to displine him, but consoled him afterwards.

          • I need to add that Emily just disciplined her dog like that just once–he kept getting on the bed and growling at anyone who dared to remove him.

          • Since I bumbled up what I was trying to relate about Emily’s bull dog I thought I would just copy the text from the book for a clearer picture…the bull dogs name was Keeper

            “Now Keeper’s household fault was this.  He loved to steal upstairs, and stretch his square, tawny limbs, on the comfortable beds, covered over with delicate white counterpanes.”

            This is what Gaskell said Emily did when he disobeyed yet again…while Tabby (the dear servant) and Charlotte watched…

            “Down-stairs came Emily, dragging after her the unwilling Keeper, his hind legs set in a heavy attitude of resistance, held by the “scuft of his neck,” but growling low and savagely all the time.  The watchers would fain have spoken, but durst not, for fear of taking off Emily’s attention, and causing her to avert her head for a moment from the enraged brute.  She let him go, planted in a dark corner at the bottom of the stairs; no time was there to fetch stick or rod, for fear of the strangling clutch at her throat—her bare clenched fist struck against his red fierce eyes, before he had time to make his spring, and, in the language of the turf, she “punished him” till his eyes were swelled up, and the half-blind, stupified beast was led to his accustomed lair, to have his swollen head fomented and cared for by the very Emily herself.  The generous dog owed her no grudge; he loved her dearly ever after; he walked first among the mourners to her funeral; he slept moaning for nights at the door of her empty room, and never, so to speak, rejoiced, dog fashion, after her death.  He, in his turn, was mourned over by the surviving sister.  Let us somehow hope, in half Red Indian creed, that he follows Emily now; and, when he rests, sleeps on some soft white bed of dreams, unpunished when he awakens to the life of the land of shadows.”

        • Oh I wish I had the annotated edition! I am definitely having to look up words, and had a heck of a time with Joseph, I still don’t know what he said!

          I have to admit something, I didn’t really know anything about the story except that’s it’s a classic and that I needed to read it, and the story was “heavy.” I didn’t even realize that she is writing in the first person as a man; I had to re-read when he introduces himself as Mr. Lockwood several times!

          I also took note of the all of the dog despcriptions and the great detail she used in describing the attack in the first chapter. I am also curious to see where that goes!

          • I agree that the description of the dogs and so much focus is significant … A simile of sorts for Heathcliff’s place in his original family when he was brought in as a child to Wuthering Heights? Or the pack of dogs as a whole as a symbolism for how this lot behaves as a family … Leader, alpha, dogs turning on each other when the alpha is gone, to bandy for a lead spot or control of the family or territory or money or commodities? Attacking to turn out the weak from the pack to make it stronger. The way these children behave is like a lot of wild animals at times. And that They are all comfortable with these on the brink of wild animals at Wuthering Heights puts a clear definition between Lockwood and everyone else.

      • Ah, thanks! Mr. Lockwood, yes. I don’t know why I didn’t pick that up.

        I agree B&N is the best. They really do the best job at making reading the text easier.

  2. I also read the ghost section at night and had to get up to close the blinds before I could go to sleep. It was chilling! “As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window–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 and soaked the bed-clothes” (p. 27). What a strong image.

    I found the definition of “Wuthering,” provided on p. 2 of my version (published by Vintage) to be extremely telling and important in setting the scene: “‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed, in stormy weather.” Tumultuous can describe many things in this story so far, including the house itself and Heathcliff. He seems to be constantly seething, constantly upset. And the narrator (if we did get a name I didn’t catch it) is, I believe, a selfish character on a certain level. He goes back to Wuthering Heights even though he knows that Heathcliff “evidently wished no repetition of my intrusion. I shall go, notwithstanding. It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself compared with him.”

    On the matter of nature versus nurture, I’m a strong believer in that both are involved in the development of nearly every person. In Heathcliff’s case, he doesn’t seem to have ever stood a chance in terms of developing into a well-adjusted adult. I do think his manipulation of the horse situation is very telling, but his circumstances put him into a situation where he, in a sense, had to develop this quality to survive.

    This is a re-read for me and I was kind of indifferent to it the first time. I’m catching a lot more detail this time around, and I’m liking it so far.

    • This is the umpteenth time I’ve read the book and it just gets better each time. Every time I pick it up, something else strikes me. This time its the narrator, who I don’t think has a name. He always seemed like a bit of a throw-away character to me before, but this time, I’m really struck by him. He’s very selfish (obvious even when you’re not focused on him) and a bit snobbish. He’s one of those characters who views themselves differently than others do. He presents himself as a well-mannered sophisticate, yet he invites himself to tea and for an overnight stay when he’s clearly not welcome.

      I’m not sure why I find him so fascinating on this read through, but I do. I’m struck by the juxtaposition between him and Heathcliff and am also noting that his obliviousness makes him a bit of an unreliable narrator.

      Anyone else fascinated by him?

      • Yes, me. But he has a name. He introduces himself to Heathcliff as, “Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir.” And others refer to him as “Mr Lockwood” also. “Joseph, take Mr Lockwood’s horse”, etc.
        I noticed that he claims repaired to this area to be alone (to be accurate, he says that Heathcliff and himself are “such a suitable pair to divide the desolation” of this “beautiful country… so completely removed from the stir of society”), yet he visits Wuthering Heights not just once but twice in two days, and calls in his housekeeper for a long chat… he’s no genuine hermit.

        • At the beginning, I believe that Mr. Lockwood gives us some clues about why he was solicting the occupation of Thrushcross Grange. “In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.” Why would he desire to be removed from society?
          “Let me hope my constitution is almost peculiar: my dear mother used to say I should never have a comfortabe home; and only last summer I proved myself perfectly unworthy of one. While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea coast…”
          I recently read the book, Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad. The book was set in 1895. The jest of book was that the wealthy would “season” at the lake. They would set up large tent emcampments, bring their china tea sets, personal maids and party dresses. Dances were held at the Grand Plaza where the young eligible bachelors could court the young ladies in high style.
          Mr Lockwood found himself in just such an environment! ” I was thrown into the company of a most fascinating creature….she understood me at last and looked a return….And what did I do? I confess it with shame- I shrunk icily into myself.” He really is shy after all!!!! “…this led her to doubt her own senses, and overwhelmed with confusion at her mistake persauded her mamma to decamp.” There it is!!! He totally embarassed himself in high society. He came to Thrushcross Grange to escape further speculations and embarassement.

          • Oooooh, good call! Because even if he went back to London he would be around all of the same people? I’ll be interested if he explains this anymore – or if we were just supposed to catch that and have it be done with. I suppose Brontë did need a narrator because otherwise we wouldn’t get the taste for all of the characters that we are getting.

        • I’m not among those fascinated by Lockwood, but I noticed the same thing. He likes to think of himself as a misanthropist, but he’s only shy and actually in need of human contact. I didn’t appreciate the way he imposes himself to Wuthering Heights’ inhabitants — found that a bit rude of him.

      • I’m fascinated with him, too. I didn’t get the impression that he was snobbish…but this is my first time reading it so I’m probably missing things. And I was alarmed more by the rude treatment of his visit than by him coming without an invitation. That may be because I live in the south and it’s in the culture to be hospitable to uninvited guests.

          • I reread Chapters 1- 4 this morning and now see how rude he was… trying to force his way through the door…taking the latern without asking,etc. It’s really eye opening to see how much I missed in my first read.

        • I agree. I think he is shy and wanted to escape society after the embarrassment with the lady he met. Even though he is shy, I think he is lonely and wanted company. He wanted to think he was a loner, but he is not. I think he was fascinated with Heathcliff and thought he was exaggerating when he said he didn’t want company. Well he found out that Heathcliff was exactly what he said! Also, I would be nosy too and asking the maid questions if I saw a ghost! :)

    • “Let me in! Let me in!” FAINT! No amount of garish modern horror could affect me more than this scene! The longing, the grasping! That psychological terror/primal fear we all have of being excluded – clearly I was much more connected to Cathy’s ghost than Lockwood, poor excuse for a man that he is.

      • Looks like I’m the only one who was not touched by this scene? Good Gothic world-building, but that’s all. Most of this week’s reading only felt as introductory to me. But then again, it’s the first time I read this in English and I may not be noticing the finer shades.

      • Annnnd there we have it. You always manage to look at the characters in a different way than anyone else. I didn’t even THINK of looking at this scene from Cathy’s point of view. VERY interesting. I think we should remember this scene ‘Let me in!’ when we get farther into the book. Even from week 2’s reading I can see reasons why she would feel as if she is being “punished” by being left out (but we can talk about that more later).

  3. I’m giggling at you ladies and the ghost scene! :) I am a big Stephen King reader so that particular situation didn’t give me even a goosebump. BUT I can’t watch any kind of scariness in a movie or on TV so I won’t laugh too hard.

    I think Bronte’s writing is incredible. This is my first time reading Wuthering Heights and I’m enjoying it very much so far. I keep comparing it to Anna Karenina and I’m finding it easier to follow. The character list is going to be really helpful, thanks for posting that!

    The dream scene was wonderfully written. It was so vivid, and so accurate that I felt like I was having the dream myself! Bronte really nailed the “dream feeling” and made it tangible to her reader. That’s when I knew I was reading something really special. I can’t wait to continue to learn about this fascinating cast of characters!

    • Oh, I am planning on reading Anna Karenina soon! I hope it is not too hard to read :) And you said it perfectly in that last paragraph. It puts you right in the story. The writing is beautiful!

      • I don’t think it was a really difficult read, I just personally found the 19th century (I think?) Russian politics a bit hard to follow. I would have been incredibly lost if I had tried reading it on my own. I think it was a personal thing though, I felt like I was doing a school assignment, something I HAD to read and I just trudged through it. I’m like Wuthering Heights much more. :)

    • Oh gosh – the character list in AK was a nightmare… much harder than this one, right? But this one still is useful.

      I’m laughing that the ghost scene didn’t even give you a goosebump (nice wording!). Isn’t it amazing how much horror and violence we have in our entertainment today – while, back when this was written, this was considered so crude!

  4. Chapter 3 was particularly creepy. I couldn’t imagine how Lockwood have felt when that happen; that would have been really creepy. I found that Chapter 4 was the most important chapter, as it really sets up the rest of the book. I found myself going back to images of the BBC presentation at times during that chapter.

    As this is my second time reading the book, I am finding it a little easier to follow the book this time around and after seeing it presented on screen, I don’t find it as intimidating as I did the first time. Really looking forward to the next bunch of chapters and will definitely be bookmarking the site that you linked up with.

  5. This is a re-read for me too, but as I read it when I was a clueless teenager, a LONG time ago, it’s almost like a new book to me. I’m reading it on Kindle. So far, so great! A few things that struck me:
    – the different voices that Bronte uses: first person narrative, journal, the dream, Mrs Dean’s discourse. Quite clever.
    – she builds up the mystery about Wuthering Heights and what is going on there by revealing things slowly, but the mystery about the narrator himself lies in the almost total silence. We know only the tiniest bit about him. Why is he seeking solitude there? One mystery is being spoken about, the other is not.
    – the build up of the sense of remoteness and isolation; the loneliness of the moors, the solitude imposed by the weather. It is grim. And in this remote situation, a cluster of people are huddled together, in relationships that are weird…

    • Great point about the different voices! When she changed perspectives to tell Mrs. Dean’s story the tone of the writing was drastically different. Love that she is able to settle into different voices so quickly–it makes the story much more effective.

    • I like what you say about “the build up of the sense of remoteness and isolation” – I feel like the setting is almost a character! Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange have a large presence like a person. The wuthering weather and walking miles just to get to the next house. Even the bed that is an enclosed cabinet which Lockwood sleeps in.

  6. Although I’m familiar with the love story of Heathcliff and Cathy, I have never read Wuthering Heights. As soon as I read the beginning paragraphs, I had to acknowledge these people are NOT the Brady Bunch! Whew! Such misery, anger, and hatred! Even the dogs are nasty! Nothing about the hearth is warm and fuzzy. The tone of the novel is such that reader immediately knows this story will not end well.

    The initial narrator, Mr. Lockwood, at first calls Heathcliff “a capital fellow,” but by the second chapter he describes his landlord differently. After Heathcliff “savagely” responded to his daughter-in-law, Lockwood stated, “The tone in which the words were said revealed a genuine bad nature. I no longer felt inclined to call Heathcliff a capital fellow.” The reason(s) for Heathcliff’s miserable attitude and obnoxious behavior starts to be revealed in chapter three and continues to be explained in chapter four.

    In chapter three, the readers meet Cathy. I don’t know what I’d do if an icy hand grabbed mine outside a window, but I don’t think I’d have the clarity of mind to scrap it over glass. Ouch! Didn’t know that ghosts bleed; she is a ghost, right!?! No wonder Lockwood freaked out and bolted. First, a nasty dream, then, a bleeding ghost. Of course, this is the first time the reader sees Heathcliff calling to Cathy to come back. Guess ghost busters need not apply!!

    Before the end of this week’s reading, we do get some answers about the characters from Mrs. Dean, Lockwood’s housekeeper. By learning that Heathcliff was “found” and brought to Wuthering Heights by the Mr. Earnshaw, we begin to understand what he had to endure to survive in that household. I will never understand cruelty to others. Did his treatment as a child shape his personality as an adult? I agree, Wallace, this will be a major point of discussion.

    I really don’t have a favorite character or worst character yet. I need to read more to get more developed caricatures. I see people behaving badly, and I can’t excuse it. However, I need more background to understand what’s really going on.

  7. Well, so far they all seem a bunch of rum coves. Thus far there’s a wonderful feal of gothicity (it’ll do me as a word) to this novel – the strange harshness of the Yorkshire moors where even now it’s probably still raining and Joseph’s unwelcoming local dialect enforce the sense of otherness and alieness.

    Also, the scenes where Lockwood explores the house and encounters the ghost put me in mind of Dracula where Harker goes about the castle and stumbles upon the brides.

    Thus far Heathcliff seems the rummest of the bunch, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Bronte develops the characters futher in the coming weeks.

    • I, too, thoroughly enjoyed the local color and the tone of the novel. I agree we need to know more about these characters to understand what motivates them. Heathcliff stands out most of all to me because I want to know why he’s such an unpleasant person, to put it mildly.

    • The dream scene with Cathy reminded me of the scene in Jane Eyre when Bertha entered her room the night before the wedding.

  8. This is my first time reading Wuthering Heights, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I am loving the writing – it is so good in its descriptions of Wuthering Heights, the characters and general surroundings ( I can easily imagine what I am reading – which I love!). Plus, Bronte’s writing really does set a dark tone, which I feel really adds an element of mystery and spookiness to this story (I had no idea it was a gothic novel until I read Wallace’s comments). This is definitely the perfect read for fall and RIP (hurrah!). As for Lockwood (the narrator), he is cracking me up. I love how he kept mentioning he needed to get home, but needed a guide and everyone ignored him – that cracked me up and I could see those characters purposely ignoring him (it was great!). I love how he keeps putting himself in these positions which allow him an inside peek at what goes on in Wuthering Heights. I also love how Lockwood mentions his shyness, and yet, he forces his way into Heathcliff’s home for another visit (knowing full well, he is not wanted) – talk about not being shy. I think Lockwood is a smart man and he figures out which person he can use for whatever means he is trying to attain – such as getting Mrs. Dean to spill the beans on the Lintons and Earnshaws. As for Heathcliff, his surly demeanor makes sense considering how badly he was treated by his ‘family’. I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about him and his relationship with Cathy. And, I want to find out Mrs. Dean and I’m assuming everyone else was made aware of Heathcliff’s vindictive nature. I am loving this book!

    • Nadia, Lockwood is really cracking me up, too. As my grandmother would say, “He is a real piece of work!” I find him, in short, ridiculous. He reveals so much about himself by the way his words do not match his actions, his wrong assumptions, and OMG his cruelty (the way he tried to get away from the ghost in his “dream” is not an accidental detail!).

      I’m loving the way this is set up as a story within a story. By the last chapter of this week’s reading, Lockwood is narrating Nelly Dean’s version of events. This is going to be interesting!!!!

      • I have viewed Lockwood as a “surfact” character, probably used to set up the characters and story, but now I’m going to look more carefully at him. The comments I’ve been reading are really revealing.

          • Roberta, inventing a new word would be pretty cool ;) And, I could see what you mean about Lockwood – the way he is written at first could possibly imply that he might be temporary, but as soon as he makes that second visit, we know that he is in it for the long haul. I love it!

      • I am SO curious what you mean by his getting away from the ghost not being accidental. You mean by him rubbing her wrist on the glass? Will this come up again?! Eek!

        • That we see his cruelty (he didn’t shake her away or even bash buy but rubbed back AND forth) is not an accident. I think it reveals much about his character, along with all the other little things revealed.

          • Good point. I thought of this in a much more elementary way – as in could I rub someone’s (even a ghost’s) wrist back and forth over cut glass. Pretty sure I couldn’t. I failed to then translate that into Lockwood being abnormal in his way of dealing with this situation that was scaring him (which it was; abnormal). Good call.

      • Your grandma would be right about Lockwood – he really is something, isn’t he? Ridiculous is the perfect word to describe him thus far – the way he manages to insert himself in these situations that have nothing to do with him or want nothing to do with him, just astounds me. And, that is such a good point to make about his cruelty – I hadn’t picked up on it, but when you mentioned that example and I read back over, I can definitely see how Lockwood is cruel (his comments and actions really do speak volumes). And, yes, I can’t wait to find out more from Mrs. Dean (aka Lockwood, now that he’s taken over telling her story). Its definitely going to be interesting!

  9. I read Wuthering Heights for the first time in about 6th grade on the recommendation of two teachers from my school. (I read Jane Eyre for the first time then, too. I was unaware of Anne until a few years later.) This is my third or fourth read but I find myself taking more time to understand the relationships between the characters.

    I am a sucker for Victorian gothic novels and this really fits that bill.

    I think the character I am most coming to understand on this read is Joseph. As a family servant he seems to take his position to new levels. It was not common (and still isn’t) for a paid employee to act the way he does: disciplining the children, being their religious leader. He is part of the everyday life of the characters in a way that I find shocking.

    This was also my first real realization that Mrs. Heathcliff might be engaged in witchcraft. From some research I’ve done the idea is presented that Mrs. Heathcliff is simply playing with Joseph’s head since he has a ready tendency to believe in demons and witchcraft. However, in the first bit of mention of witchcraft Mrs. Heathcliff pulls “a long, dark book from a shelf.” Could it be a book about the Black Arts as she says?

    The scene in the morning, too, when Mr. Lockwood goes downstairs Mrs. Heathcliff is reading a book. She has “her hand interposed between the furnace heat and her eyes, and seemed to be absorbed in her occupation….” That struck me as interesting, as something that might indicate that she was trying to learn a spell.

    I’m really enjoying this re-read!

      • hmmm, I actually passed right over the witchcraft references. Are the dogs possessed? They’re certainly scary enough…

    • I passed over a few of those references as well. I assumed she was just giving Joseph a scare – that it was the only power she had over him (his thought that she was perhaps acquainted with the devil).

      What are some of your favorite Victorian Gothics?

    • Hmmm… I love Wilkie Collins, especially The Woman in White. Also, was scared silly by Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. And, of course, my favorite Bronte, Charlotte, tosses in ghosts and supernatural experiences in Jane Eyre and Villette. Bram Stoker wrote a lot more than just Dracula, available for free from Project Gutenberg. A lot of it is vampire related and I love vampires!

  10. Thank you, Wallace for the character list– it makes things more clear.  When Mrs. Dean was explaining the connections of the characters to Mr. Lockwood it made my head spin.

    I like Mrs. Heathcliff, too.  At first, I thought she was afraid of Heathcliff–for she didn’t seem to feel at liberty to offer Mr. Lockwood tea unless she knew he was invited to take tea. Does she feel like she’s just a guest at Wuthering Heights?

    The nature or nurture choice is difficult…It seems like we are all born with certain temperaments, and a big part of what type of person we turn out to be depends on how we were nurtured; but then  it finally comes down to our own choice to reject the bad and choose the good.  I don’t know what to think about Heathcliff yet…

    I think Mr. Earnshaw  could have made a better environment for Heathcliff by making Hindley feel secure in his love, and not letting his compassion towards Heathcliff blind him to his manipulative nature.  It seems like Mr. Earnshaw wasn’t a very wise parent, although I do respect his compassion.

    I wasn’t expecting to like this book very much…but so far I really love it!

    • “When Mrs. Dean was explaining the connections of the characters to Mr. Lockwood it made my head spin.”
      Agreed, but I think that is an effect she (Bronte) very much wanted. It adds to the mystery. And we’ll surely understand all the relations better by the end of the book — even without the characters list.
      (@ Wallace: yet I am grateful for the list. I’m not studying it but keeping it near, just in case!)

      • Yes, definitely if it adds to the story for you – don’t spoil it by looking too closely at the list. It has helped me to know the characters this time (but I know them because I’ve seen the movie… which apparently kept a lot of the characters – not all – but changed some of the plot).

      • You’re welcome, Missy. To me it seemed to have the same atmosphere as Wuthering Heights…so I thought I would share it. :)

  11. This is the first time I’ve read Wuthering Heights and I was immediately hooked. I love the darkness and wildness of Wuthering Heights and the underlying tension of the characters and their stories.

    I too feel that Lockwood is used as a conduit to introduce the characters but will definitely be keeping an eye on him. He pretends to be shy and not wanting social interactions but yet goes out of his way to visit Heathcliff the second time and seems to manipulate Mrs. Dean a bit into “gossiping” about Heathcliff’s past and the family she worked for.

    Lockwood truly highlights Wallace’s point about Bronte showing the differences of those who are from Wuthering Heights and those who are not. He seems to have preconceived notions of what his new landlord/living situation will bring and I think is surprised by the rough/ruggedness/almost crudeness of Heathcliff.

    Someone above mentioned the different “voices” Bronte has used thus far. To be honest, I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t notice – I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad.

    It was so hard to stop at the end Chapter IV…and I was a bit confused as to everyone’s relationship to each other so I actually went back and re-read the entire first week. I am really looking forward to this week’s reading.

    • Wow – I’m glad people are finding this such an easy read that they are able to go back and re-read… we get so much more from doing that! I also am finding this much easier than I thought it would be. Last night I actually made myself set it aside to go to bed, and that is unusual with classics (for me)!

  12. Don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up, but I do have to bow out.
    I’m reading two chunksters, both are excellent and both are 600 plus pages so
    don’t dare take on anything at this time. Hope you all enjoy the book!

  13. Every time I read this novel, I get sucked right back in! It was so hard to stop reading at Chapter V, especially after we are introduced to Heathcliff’s feeeeeeelings a bit at the end of Chapter IV. Oh Cathy, you give me chills every time… “Let me in!” and Heathcliff pleading with her to come back? Be still my little black heart.

  14. Also, can we just take a moment to celebrate this sentence: “Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious phlegm.”



  15. This must be the third time I read Wurthering Heights, but I still cannot say I fully understand it. Each time I discover parts that I see under a different light, and this fact gives a new allure to the story. What remains the same however: the complexity of the characters, the further complexity of the plot, the secreats lingering around and haunting the characters. Heathcliff remains a dark force: for me, primarily a result of nurture rather than nature. I have in mind the film adaptation with Laurence Olivier, and he is frightening… And oh, the scene with the ghost…
    What I noticed this time, however, was Lockwood – maybe I was reading the main incidents beforehand, but now that I pay attention to the details, I cannot see him as a reliable narrator. Which gets me thinking: are we getting the right facts about the story? I’m curious to see how I will put the pieces of Wurthering Heights together this time!

  16. I’m afraid I don’t have much to say about this first week. As I said above, it felt almost all like an introduction so I wasn’t much invested.
    On the nature/nurture question: I’m sure it will be a key to read the whole story, but I’m not sure we have enough information to tell, right now. And yet, I do see several marks pointing towards nature over nurture. Why did Mr Earnshaw bring Heathcliff home in the first place? There were plenty of beggars and orphans, and he was not in the habit of helping all of them, so was he manipulated by Heathcliff right from the beginning? Also, from Catherine’s diary, I gather that she and her brother were quite different — so maybe whatever education the Earnshaw family was giving the children (nurture) was not strong enough to make up for their basic differences in character (nature).
    On the ghost scene: after reading all of your comments, I guess I may have misinterpreted something. I see it as nothing more than a nightmare — although scarier to Lockwood because he clearly believes in ghosts. But now I ask: is Bronte building a world where ghosts (and witchcraft) exist? (Did she believe in ghosts and witches?) I read the whole scene, and the references to Mrs Heathcliff’s witchcraft, as though it was making fun of poor souls like Joseph, who believe in these things — but maybe that was not the way it was intended.
    Sorry for being so long-winded even when I don’t have much to say!

    • I saw it as a nightmare also, not something that actually happened. I may have to go back and re-read, but I’m pretty convinced that Lockwood didn’t see an actual ghost. I think Heathcliff reacted the way he did because he wanted that connection with Cathy so badly.

    • “There were plenty of beggars and orphans, and he was not in the habit of helping all of them, so was he manipulated by Heathcliff right from the beginning?” Interesting…. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ve read thoughts about Heathcliff possibly being his illegitimate son (which may be why Mrs. Earnshaw didn’t care for him to come live with them).

      I’ve always thought Cathy really was a ghost. (This is my second reading of the beginning). I thought it happened after he woke up.

      • His son? Interesting! Of course that would explain it. But then again, I don’t think we’re given any reason to believe as much?
        Re: the ghost. Yes, it happens after he wakes up, but I thought it was an extension of his dream, like he wasn’t completely awake yet.

        • Yes, there’s nothing to prove that Heathcliff is his son – think it’s just a theory that people came up with to make things even more interesting… but, like with so much else in this book, we are never told the real story.

  17. This is also my first time reading WH and I’m so happy to be reading it along with so many other readers! I feel like not only can I join in a fun discussion, but (as I’ve read the comments, have also discovered) that I will understand and discover much more!

    I also feel like it’s a little early for me to make anything yet of the characters- but the pace and tone of the novel have kept me intrigued. Also how not much is known about any of the characters really, we’ve only been given a glimpse.
    The ghost scene has been my favourite so far. I am easily rattled- I have a vivid imagination- but felt like E. Bronte really captured the thin line between reality and the supernatural. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream of his or not at first.

    I’m so glad you posted the character map. That’s always what I have a hard time with- lineage (it’s so hard to keep track of characters at first!).

  18. This week was slow-going for me. I’m trying to get used to some of the terminology.

    I’m such a wimp when it comes to ghosts and ghost stories. I also read the ghost scene at night and was a little freaked out by it.

    I want to know more about Heathcliff. We get a taste of his background but I’m not sure if I feel like I have enough information to say whether his character is more nature or nurture. I think we’ll probably find out more about this in the coming chapters.

  19. I feel like I need to make a comment in Lockwood’s defense after reading all of the negative opinions of him on here, to play devil’s advocate a little. I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to Lockwood as I was reading, like many others I saw him as a vessel for character introduction. But reading the strongly worded comments toward him made me pause and give him more thought. I don’t think that he is rude as a characteristic trait. I think that he is flabbergasted at the treatment he receives at Wuthering Heights from the get-go. He strikes me as a man who has specific ideas about the way a guest ought to be treated and he is adamant, albeit forceful in demanding that he be treated in the proper way.

    Also I don’t think we can fault him for spending the night despite Heathcliff clearly not wanting him there. He tried desperately to find an escort home, but to no avail.

    This is the first time I have read WH heights so I have absolutely no idea how important of a character he is throughout the story, or if he even deserves this much of an analyses. I’m definitely looking forward to finding out, and I’m curious to see if I end up changing my opinion of him to match everyone else’s!

    • I’m glad you brought this up…after thinking about it more I could see that he just doesn’t understand the lifestyle of country folk..they don’t have a servant to open the door and extra servants to spare for helping him home.

      • He’s really “Type A” for being such a self-proclaimed shy person too, I think. That’s probably why I sympathize with him, I’m very “Type A” myself! :)

          • Sorry, maybe that’s regional slang. Somebody with a Type A personality is more of an extrovert, outgoing and outspoken. Type B would be someone who is an introvert, more of a quiet type. Generally you would assume someone who is shy to have a Type B personality, but Lockwood is so insistent and pushy, he strikes me as more of a Type A character.

    • I’m going to go back and read the first chapters again, but I also didn’t feel that Lockwood was really rude or one to despise. He is more like a Jane Austen character who found himself in the company of…..well, I can’t really think of anyone who compares to Heathcliff, and of course all of the other characters at Wuthering Heights.

    • I pretty much see Lockwood in the same way as you, someone used to promote the story and introduce other characters. However, since reading other comments, I plan to pay more attention to him. He might have a larger part to play in this novel. I’m mainly caught up in the story of Heathcliff and his intense misery.

  20. As a first time reader of this book i don’ really know what to expect, which is probably a good thing. So far I am not sure what I think. It is well written and very descriptive and atmospheric but it does sometimes seem to be a little too much in places. However this I think will lessen as I progress through the book. So far so good.

  21. How exciting to read this fascinating book in company. So many questions/issues/comments raised questions, I re-read chapters 1-4 to see what I had missed. The relationship chart is great, Wallace, in untangling these characters relationships. I am amazed at how many miles the characters walk — 4 miles from Lockwood’s house to Wuthering Heights (and back again through the head-deep snow)–no wonder he’s feeling ill. As someone already said, there’s such a strong sense of place that the location is almost another character in the narrative. I think the narrator is misinterpreting Heathcliff’s behavior in light of the world he knows which is nothing like the world as Heathcliff knows it, and the book implies there are depths below Heathcliff’s hospitality (such as it is)–how jovial he becomes after the dogs attack the narrator, for example. There’s such a dark, sardonic humor — the narrator mistaking the heap of dead rabbits for a cat, the dog sneaking up to bite Lockwood, and then the sheep dogs pouncing on him and knocking him over. So far, he hasn’t actually been hurt, except by his own lack of knowledge in going to Wuthering Heights in the snow. Looking forward to the next part of the discussion.

  22. In 2010, I wrote a post with Heathcliff as one of my favorite fictional characters. http://thetruebookaddict.blogspot.com/2010/02/favorite-fictional-character-heathcliff.html The responses in the comments ran the gamut from utter dislike of the character to agreeing with me that he was also a favorite for them. As you stated, it’s true that most people either love it or hate it and that is largely due, I think, with the character of Heathcliff. How can a character evoke such love in some and such hate in others? I think some see Heathcliff as an underdog (as I do) and others look at him more like an obsessed, shall I say, stalker. In this first section, we meet Heathcliff at his most vitriol. The level of disrespect and hate he shows toward Mrs. Heathcliff, his daughter in law, and Hareton (not to mention the house guest), is astounding. I’m sure people who have never read this, or seen any of the film versions, are probably wondering why Heathcliff is often thought of as a romantic leading man, albeit anti-hero.

    I have never thought of Heathcliff as vindictive. I think that the circumstances of his low birth combined with his treatment at the hands of Hindley Earnshaw were instrumental in his behavior. I firmly believe that his actions stem from a survival instinct.

  23. I was away this week, but have loved reading all the comments and catching up. Most of the points I noted, you have already commented on, but I would add that I loved the descriptions and the way these external elements reflected the lives of the characters and the bleak nature of Lockwood’s welcome. The weather, the house, the wind, all indicate a rough combative natural landscape and a hardscrabble existence, much like the lives of the inhabitants of the house. The wildness, isolation, and sense of unease used in the descriptions are mirrored in the people who inhabit it.
    By way of an example, in Chapter 1 Lockwood, describing Wuthering Heights, notes, “Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed; one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house, and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun…..” The inhabitants of Wuthering Heights are much like the fir trees, stunted — emotionally and socially. They too seem gaunt, prickly, lacking compassion or incapable of it; they seem to have to been buffeted about by the howling winds and to be barely hanging on to the idea of a civility.
    At Wuthering Heights, Lockwood loses his way and cannot navigate home without help. Bronte writes: “… the whole hill-back was one billowy, white ocean, the swells and falls not indicating corresponding rises and depressions in the ground; many pits, at least, were filled to a level and entire ranges of mounds, the refuse of the quarries blotted out from the chart which my yesterday’s walk left pictured in my mind.” Lockwood seems to have lost all sense of direction, of balance; the walk home is slow and dangerous and when he tries to follow the path indicated by the quarry stones, he finds these markers have all but disappeared and he frequently loses his way and must be redirected. Having come to the country to regain his bearings, Lockwood finds himself lost and disoriented.
    Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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