Wuthering Heights :: Week Three

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 Three: Read to Chapter XII


I’m halfway through this week’s reading at the moment (maybe by the time this posts I’ll be finished), so am not quite ready to share my thoughts yet. I calculated poorly as I knew this was a shorter week’s worth of reading… I underestimated my reading time. So, I’ll join you for conversation below in the comments. I can say, however, that the first half of this week’s reading was dramatic enough to have my mouth hanging open. Again, I’m in awe of how realistically Brontë portrayed these characters. Had literature ever seen a woman like Cathy before? 

Here is the trailer to the upcoming version of Wuthering Heights… what do you think (click on the picture to play the video)? Will you see it if it comes to your area?

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)
Ashley J.
Adam Stone
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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108 thoughts on “Wuthering Heights :: Week Three

  1. Cathy…hmm? I honestly have no idea what I think about her. She seems so self absorbed and spoiled rotten. Everyone is bending over backwards for her and I have NO idea why? She doesn’t seem like a very likeable character, which I guess is the point.

    Parts of me are really sympathetic to Heathcliff but then he does something buttheadish and I’m like..never mind. He has had it rough, and I can see why he would be the bitter man he is. He was built up then torn down so young and treated like pooh. And Cathy just ripped his heart out without even knowing she was doing it! Ugh!

    I honestly don’t know if I am liking a single character besides Nelly. She seems the only levelheaded person in the whole book (so far)

    I’m going to finish up the reading for this week sometime today, I’ll be back!

    • I’m also having a hard time liking any of the characters. I understand why they act as they do, I get their personalities, but I simply wouldn’t want to be friends with any of them.

      • Exactly – I too am trying to look at things from their perspective, which makes things more interesting. Though I can’t stop thinking how terrible it would be to be married to Cathy (or to be Nelly) as I would be afraid of her!

      • I think this is intentional on Bronte’s part. I think she is such a good writer that the misery of these people and how miserable they are comes through , that is part of the genius of her writing. Have you ever read Toni Morrison’s Beloved? The beginning of the book is so confusing, so whirlwind, so violent-feeling, and you don’t have a good clear cut idea as to why when you read it for the first time, you are just experiencing all these emotions and this confusion. And then you realize, this is what Beloved herself is feeling, she doesn’t understand what is going on or why she is where she is or even what she is or how she came to be. The confusion starts to make sense as you read on and you realize what Beloved is and why her spirit is so not at rest. But getting back to the writing, the tone and overall feeling that Morrison conveys also changes as things are revealed. It is a brilliant piece of work and effect. I think Bronte achieves that here. These people are so miserable you don’t want to read about them! Their misery and self loathing is that evident. Bronte has made not only the characters in the book despise one another, she has affected the reader as well.

    • I love unloveable characters! They are always more interesting to me. And I do love these characters, for their complexity and intrigue. Definitely NOT for their personalities!

    • I’m not even sure I like Nelly completely. Sometimes I don’t understand what she thinks she is doing and her decisions seem to be at odds one with another. When I think she should say something, she is silent; when I think she should not meddle, she is in the thick of the plot twists and turns. Still…. I am loving the tension!

  2. I did the opposite! I finished the reading last weekend and now I’m not sure what to write! It was hard to stop reading for me. I know Cathy is spoiled and horrible, but I guess her personality, along with Heathcliff’s, is what makes their love such a crazy, unhealthy love, and gives this book such a dark, strange atmosphere. I do love it!

    I am worried about what is happening at Wuthering Heights with Hindley and Hareton. I can only imagine what Heathcliff is up to… and I wonder how he made his money and what he has been doing while he is away. I wonder if we will find out. I read this 15 to 20 years ago, but I can’t remember what happens.

    As for Isabella, I pity her. This can’t end well! I agree with Melissa above, that Nelly seems to be the only truly likable character.

    • Yes! I was wondering that too, about Heathcliff’s money! I’m guessing it might be something unsavory since it hasn’t been mentioned yet. I don’t know. I have a feeling he would have done whatever he could to make enough money for Cathy!

      And I just got to the part about Isabella! Poor thing. I sense a
      heartbreak in her near future!

    • No doubt, Isabella is in trouble. Does anyone have her back? Cathy claims to care about her, but her actions indicate otherwise.

      • I’m not completely finished with this section, but it seems like Cathy is trying soo very hard to persuade Isabella to direct her affections elsewhere. I don’t think it’s for a nice reason.

      • At the end of this week’s reading, Edgar has talked to her and encouraged her to have nothing to do with Heathcliff (and even threatened to cut off his relationship with her if she did start up with Heathcliff). But we all know – the heart wants what the heart wants.

    • I agree with you about the dark, strange atmosphere and I love it too! This is my first “gothic” read, and I’m definitely going to read more. Right up my alley. :)

  3. It was so hard to stop this week. The writing was amazing. Amazing and beautiful, but throughout Cathy’s ranting I was hoping Nelly would give her a big smack. I don’t remember her ever being portrayed as self absorbed and nasty in any of the film versions. I am wondering if she is really capable of being so in love with Heathcliff, or if she loved him because he hung on her every word and followed her around like a puppy dog. I’m also wondering where we’re going with Hareton, and am looking forward to more detail on Heathcliff’s revenge on Hindley.
    Poor Isabella…

    • I agree. Cathy is terribly self-absorbed. I think its interesting that she’s not portrayed as selfish or nasty in film versions. I’ve never seen any of the film versions of the story and that really really really surprises me. Of all the characters she’s my least favorite. I mean, Heathcliffe isn’t a great guy by any stretch of the imagination, but he kind of had a terrible childhood, so I feel sorry for him. But Cathy… there’s nothing to redeem her in my mind.

    • Watch the version with Tom Hardy – I think the actress did quite a good job portraying Cathy in it (thoughI agree- not nearly as scary as Cathy is in the book).

      I am in awe of this writing as well – I have to keep reminding myself that it was written almost 200 years ago! She has created such an emotional monster with Cathy… I am in loooove with it

  4. I really didn’t enjoy this week’s reading because I dislike the characters. If I were reading this on my own, I’d probably quit since it’s difficult to invest the time reading about people this ugly in temperament and attitude. If Bronte’s intent was to create derision for her characters, then she is no doubt the excellent author she is reputed to be, but I need to see some redeeming qualities soon. And yet I wonder if this is possible with this bunch.

    Heathcliff’s plan, on his return to Wuthering Heights, was” to have one glimpse of your (Cathy’s) face, a stare of surprise, perhaps, and pretended pleasure; afterwards settle my score with Hindley, and then prevent the law by doing executions on myself.” These are some of the nicer words he utters.

    When she learns that Isabella loves Heathcliff, cruel Catherine tells her, “I know he couldn’t marry a Linton; and yet he’d be quite capable of marrying your fortune and expectations; avarice is growing with him a begetting sin.” After she tells Isabella that, she goes on to humiliate her in front of Heathcliff.

    Heathcliff’s comment after he learns that Isabella’s in love with him is thus: “You’d hear of odd things if I lived alone with that mawkish, waxen face: the most ordinary would be painting on its white the colours of the rainbow, and turning the blue eyes black, every day or two.” What a charmer!

    Even little Hareton calls his drunken, brutal father “devil daddy.” There’s no fun in this dysfunction. It would be best if this crew never reproduces and ends the insanity. And yet, after saying all that, I’m ready to see where Bronte will take us next. Can this get worse?

    • Yeah, I think we cal all agree that these characters (minus Nelly) are all miserable people. It’s like a soap opera with it’s cast of sad dysfunctional characters. I just hope that Nelly doesn’t drift off to dysfunction junction too.

    • Yes, it was terrible the way Cathy humiliated Isabella! I don’t see how they could have treated her any worse than they did. I think I’m off to find out if it gets worse!

    • I too (as well as anyone who has probably ever read this) easily see all of the bad in the characters. However, I’ve been trying to look at them through the lens of understanding why they are acting this way – and I find it makes for a very interesting read.

      Cathy – self absorbed, selfish, cruel, immature… lonely, unhappy, needy, desperate for love and attention (especially coming from a home with an unloving father and brother and no mother).

      Edgar – weak, enabling… blinded by love, hurt, scared of an emotionally unstable woman.

      Isabella – young, easily affected, naive… orphaned, yearning for love and adventure, unguided.

      Heathcliff – angry, abusive, vengeful… broken-hearted, insecure, depressed.

      • You are right in pointing this out, but it does not make me more invested in the characters. There are reasons for the evil in everyone, no one is evil just for the sake of it (except maybe characters like Sauron in the Lord of the Rings) — so the reason is not, in my eyes, an excuse to be what they are.
        This is not to say I’m not interested in reading their story, even if all the characters are not likeable!

        • No, I agree – not an excuse to be what they are, but somewhat of an explanation. It makes me less irritated with them and also believe them more as three dimensional characters.

          Glad it’s not diverting you from the story though! I think they (especially Catherine) can make people not like this story. At least that’s what I’ve heard from those who end up wanting to throw the book across the room! Ha!

      • Great points, Wallace. I’m grateful to have someone point out the humanity fo the characters because I’m losing sight of it in Cathy and Heathclif.

  5. Like Melissa, Missy and Nancy, this week’s reading sent me wondering…Cathy is a puzzle, one minute she saying profound things and the next she’s throwing a hissy fit…and I’m beginning to distrust Nelly.  This week she came off as a trouble maker—making matters worse by her involvement .  I ‘m wondering if I can trust her narrative–maybe it’s biased.

    The best way I can describe the feeling I’m getting with Heathcliff’s return is that “Hell followed with him”.

    • joon*ann, I’m with you! I don’t trust Nelly at all, which part of the reason I do like her (makes her interesting)..I’ve been suspicion of her narration since she started, but am wondering why she would need to alter it – is that bad of a person? Hmmm.

      • I keep forgetting that Lockwood is the one giving us Nelly’s narrative (isn’t he?) maybe he’s the one I shouldn’t trust.

      • Man I feel so wigged as I read more..I’m nearly to the end of the part for this week and yeah..My girl Nelly is starting to look sketchy to me too :( Which is sad because she was like the only sane and rational seeming character yet!

    • Okay, Joon*Ann, you’re going to make me have to go back and read again what I’ve read…lol (not trusting Nelly). Of course, I finished it last weekend, so maybe I have already forgotten she was acting suspiciously :-)

    • Well, even from the start, when they were very young, Nelly was siding with Catherine’s brother, so I guess she is biased. There is that scene where she “sees” the ghost of him as a child in this week’s part. But I don’t think it means she is to be distrusted in her narrative. After all, she makes it quite clear that she is not on Cathy’s side.

    • Really?! I LOVED that Nelly got involved. I was so angry at Cathy by the time Nelly went and reported to Edgar that I was almost cheering when she did! I wanted Cathy punished and I wanted Heathcliff out (for the moment). What a pivotal plot point – that HAD to happen to make the next events make sense. Now Cathy is in a rage and is making herself sick (no doubt this will be important), and Edgar is (somewhat) growing a bit of strength in the story… maybe even letting the scales fall off of his eyes concerning Cathy?

  6. Wow! What a great reading week! I am getting more and more obsessed with reading this book! First off, am loving Nelly account of what happened – she cracks me up. Always trying to make herself look good in the story to Lockwood (who I forget is her audience, until he makes an appearance). And what is with Heathcliff? So, he hears only a bit of Cathy’s rambling and decides that he’s done and has to take off for years! Seriously!?! Talk about an overreaction! Its pretty obvious that she loves him – then again, she’s so self-absorbed, how would he know. Anyhow, and now she’s with Edgar and still lusting after Heathcliff! I love how uncomfortable it all makes Edgar – LOL! The whole drama with Cathy locking herself away and threatening to die is just over the top ridiculous, but so Cathy at the same time. I still can’t believe that Heathcliff ran off with her sister-in-law! What the frack? He is just playing too many mind games! Of course, now I can’t wait to find out what happens next! Drama, drama, drama!

    • Wait – Heathcliff ran off with Isabella?

      I’m LOVING how Brontë has made these characters so real. Each one has such a distinct personality – no cookie cutter gender roles here! I actually have witnessed people acting like Cathy before – so I am in such admiration (and crazy curiosity who she modeled it after) of her building of this character… especially in Victorian England!

  7. Given the time this was published, how do we think readers would have perceived Catherine – as self absorbed and brattish as we do, or would they have taken her hysteric’s seriously?

    • Most reviewers of the time ranged in thinking that the book was strange and original to depraved and depressing! People of the time were not used to reading about willful and wild women characters like Cathy.

      • Well, there were probably less women who were allowed to be that “wild” in the first place, so it was a rarer thing to see a strong character in a women in real life, let alone in a novel.

        • But wild women are wild no matter if they are allowed or not – that’s part of the fun of being wild ;)

          But all joking aside – people were used to reading about people more like Jane Austen’s characters. I think there always were, and I hope will always be women who broke the mold. I do agree it was much, much harder to do so in the past. Not only society wise, but laws controlling women like property, etc. Which is why Catherine #2 (who we met in last week’s reading) is stuck at Wuthering Heights after her husband’s death.

          Amazons, bluestockings, and crones 4ever! :)

    • I think Catherine’s hysterics are serious. I think Brontë was showing an unstable person who was not as socialized as she may have been had she lived somewhere more populated – on top of which she lost her mother early and lived with mostly men, who treated her poorly.

      As Jackie mentioned, this was so unusual because the female characters are used to reading about from this time period are all somewhat cookie cutter and rule following… Brontë is making a clear statement by creating characters that are deeply flawed and unconventional (yet because of that somewhat more realistic than those in other Victorian novels).

  8. BTW, i couldn’t watch the movie trailer via the attached link (my work server blocked the link) but i found a trailer on you tube, or at least some clip of something – it was a very very strange trailer for the new version. Does anyone know anything about it? (though it will have to be astounding to convince me that there is a better Heathcliff than Tom Hardy… :-) )

      • got it, thanks. i definately had looked at a different trailer. This made more sense. Looking forward to it. I also think it’s interesting how quickly this version is coming out after the last….

    • Hi Nancy, if you’re not on the list (but were) it just means that you haven’t joined discussion for two weeks. If you’d like back on the list, I can do that. Please just refer to the last bullet point under “friendly reminders” at the end of the post. :)

  9. We are starting to see the consuming power of revenge this week. Imagine focusing your whole being actually becoming ill to make someone sorry – to earn loads of money and educate yourself solely with one person in mind – to woo someone you don’t care for in payback… I feel like a storm is brewing. It’s getting darker, the wind is picking up, I can feel the pressure in the atmosphere! Wallace, you cruel read-a-long mistress! It almost killed me to have to put this book down after two chapters!

  10. I actually really liked the scene between Cathy, Heathcliff, and Isabella. Cathy is treating her horribly, and Heathcliff is acting as appallingly as can be expected, but I feel as though this really characterized them well. This is one of the first times we see Cathy and Heathcliff interacting in such a casual atmosphere. It wasn’t until this scene that I really felt as though they are as close as the narrative keeps saying they are.

    And as for Isabella, she should have known better than to speak up about her love for Heathcliff. Her brother hates him and her sister-in-law is in love with him. She has to be as self-centered as Cathy not to realize that admitting her love is not a smart move.

    • You know you have a point. How on earth did Isabella figure that would go? She’d tell Cathy she loved Heathcliff then Cathy would say “oh I love him too but you can totes have him now…”? I think you may be onto something about Isabella. She’s got to be in her own little world too if she didn’t get the hint that Cathy is NOT her friend in this situation!

      • Well, I think Isabella knows it pretty well. She only admitted her love for H. during a rage, and immediately regretted it.
        On the other hand, she is described as weak, but she does have much in common with Catherine!

  11. I am finally caught up with the reading. Hareton is a frightening child. Nelly tells a good story (becoming a bit of a puppet master). I have been on a bit of a book binge today, since I have been having a hard time reading during the week. I am done with this coming week’s reading and I’m having a hard time walking away from my Nook!

  12. Well, they’re still unlikeable, Cathy is particularly self-absorbed and selfish, Hareton is turning very nasty and Heathcliff’s revenge seems about to destroy everyone.

    Having said that though, the writing makes this gripping from page to page and the Heathcliff/Cathy chemistry is definitely starting to burn, likely leaving Isabella charred in its wake.

  13. I must admit that I am having difficulties with this book. I just don’t like any of the characters at all and it is hard to feel sorry for them when they are being so miserable all of the time. I will keep on going though as it is very well written.

  14. I don’t have much to add to this week’s discussion that hasn’t already been covered. I admit, however, that I didn’t finish it until Saturday, and then decided to keep reading a bit so I wouldn’t fall behind…the next thing I knew I was finished with THIS week’s readings…I could have easily spent the rest of the weekend finishing the book, but I forced myself to stop!!

  15. I just managed to finish the section and reading all the comments as well, I am glad I;m participating in this read-a-long. My thoughts on the book have not been very promising to say the least, but from the various comments I do see some points that I would otherwise not have imagined… Little Hareton, for instance, is just a spoiled child for me. I couldn’t have imagined anything further… As to the likeability of the characters, I was not too worried. Bronte’s life (of the whole family really) was a very austere one. The people that they came in contact with (especially because of Branwell) would have such characters. Still, it was interesting to see other alternatives as to the origin of so much malice and spoil and now I’m entertaining new options as to how I explain the plot – I may actually come to a different conclusion this time! On one note I agree however: Once I start, I cannot put the book down…

  16. Late to the party again… sigh. Like a lot of people have already said, I’m still trying to find some common ground with the characters; however, I’m beginning to wonder whether or not that’s ever going to happen. Perhaps Bronte’s point was not for us to like the characters. They’re crazy and none of them seem to realize how crazy the others are (Nelly aside). With regard to Nelly, I don’t understand how she works for those people with all the crazy going on.

    • I absolutely think we aren’t meant to like these characters. For me, I enjoy not liking Cathy… she is the character that I love to hate at this point.

  17. Really enjoying everyone’s comments & going back and re-reading parts I’d missed the significance of–one advantage of the fairly short readings. I love the description of Cathy’s relationship with the Lintons’s–that they accomodated her like flowers sheltering the thorn. More evidence of her cruel nature: pinching Nelly awake to talk to her. I’m seeing Cathy and Heathcliff are alike in their self-centered, cruel, and manipulative personalities and that Cathy was right in saying that she is Heathcliff and he is her. This certainly doesn’t seem to be a case of opposites attract :) The narration is fascinating like one of those drawings of a mirror within a mirror within a mirror.

  18. It’s always so hard to stop reading at the designated chapters! Oh Cathy. Such a spoiled jealous thing. I absolutely love her. What a deliciously bratty character. She keeps things interesting, that’s for sure! Isabella and Heathcliff… Even though I know what’s coming, it never ceases to amaze me that Cathy and Heathcliff can discuss Isabella and her feeling as a “creature” and have no guilt about it. As twisted as it is, they really are just wrapped up in each other, for better or worse.

  19. I think the characters are so interesting. Cathy and Heathcliffe are co-dependents and seem to bring out the worst in each other; they are never” normal” and people go out of their way not to upset them – either from fear or sympathy, but they don’t care who they upset or whether their actions cause others pain. It’s all about them. Foolishly perhaps, we hope for their reunion and think we are seeing growth or change, but almost immediately we see them work to diminish each another — or bestow pain on somone else. In today’s parlance, I think this would be considered an unhealthy relationship.

    That being said, it’s much more difficult to like the poor Lintons. Edgar is not a nice person; he despises Heathcliffe because of his low social status and blames others for his own failures. Both he and Isabelle have far fewer reasons to behave badly, having been raised by seemingly caring parents in a comfortable home where there was at least some measure of love, but neither arouses much sympathy.

  20. Like the poster above me said, its interesting how Cathy and Heathcliff bring out the worst in each other but still are drawn to each other.

    I am finding it to be sympathetic towards the Lintons, as they seem to antagonize the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff and just want to get the ire out of Cathy and Heathcliff. Find that Edgar is just somebody who rubs me the wrong way and just makes him extremely unlikable.

    Sorry for the short post; just wanted to get something up this week.

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