Wuthering Heights :: Week Four

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 Four: Read to Chapter XVI

Discussion:

Two announcements:

1.) Unputdownables is on Facebook! If you are on Facebook, be sure to follow and get updates on posts, read-a-longs, and BookRiot articles.

2.) With so many people (and a wonderfully big discussion with so many comments), I’m having a hard time keeping track when you use more than one handle to comment with. Please comment with just the handle (aka name) that you signed up with. If you would like me to switch your name, just let me know and I can do that if it’s easier. I saw a few people this week whom I didn’t have on the list – so you may not have been counted if you used a different name. (Eek! We don’t want that.)

                                 

Which cover do you like best? Which do you think fits the story the most?

Last week, I jumped into the comments and discussed with you – and I think I had a better discussion because I hadn’t put all of my thoughts up here. So, this week, though I am done with the reading already, I am going to do the same thing. I enjoy having things to talk about without repeating myself.

A few things in case anyone is stuck:

  • Was Heathcliff to blame for Isabella’s choice, or is Isabella alone responsible?
  • Was Linton fair in how he treated Nelly? Was Nelly right in delivering the letter to Catherine?
  • Should we be worried that Heathcliff has no problem with hanging innocent dogs by their necks (how gothic was THAT?!)
  • Cathy is pregnant… did anyone else catch that? Seems to be something that was mentioned and then moved on from.
  • What is it with Victorian women getting so upset that they become fatally ill?
  • How do we feel about Cathy now, in her weaker state?

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
jackiemania
Mary Ann
Meg @ A Bookish Affair
Sarah D
Cindy
joon*ann
Kimberly Parker
Nancy
Roberta
Susan E
Ian Cann (@thebeercolonel)
Nadia
Ashley J.
threewhales
Ashley
thetruebookaddict
jaynesbooks
honeybeejoy
Adam Stone
Jill
Martha
Eibhlin
Scribacchina
Melissa Caldwell
CourtneyK

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!


51 thoughts on “Wuthering Heights :: Week Four

  1. Hi Wallace, thanks for posting the beautiful covers (My favorite is the last one!)

    I don’t have too much time this morning to post, so will have to come back over the weekend. I was emotionally exhausted after this week’s reading. Cathy’s weakened state doesn’t change my opinion of her – even in writing this I feel somewhat heartless, but I found her almost more annoying this week than before. I have to admit that I completely missed the references to her pregnancy through the reading, and I’m looking forward to going back through the chapters. I wonder if the subtlety is a reflection of the Victorian attitude to pregnancy, or if it was intended to be a big suprise and therefore part of the plot line?

    Poor Isabella. I do think she’s responsible, but of course in these times a woman had no rights what so ever. I though it was very interesting that she’s choosen not to appeal to Linton, and I wonder if there is a side to Linton that she sees, and that we’ve missed. He’s been such a sop so far, I would have though she would have thrown herself at his feet. Or maybe she’s so angry at Cathy (now she especially knows the truth about her and Heathcliff) that she can’t go near the house??

    • My favorite is also the last one – sooooo pretty! I thought so too, regarding Catherine. Part of what I find interesting about her character is that she’s a Victorian female villain! Now that she’s acting weak that wore off somewhat (not that she wasn’t good old selfish Cathy, just not so bad).

      • Well, there would be no novel without Catherine’s character, so yes she’s interesting and maybe annoying is not the right word… but I do dislike her more and more as the story goes on.

        • I don’t dislike her or any of the characters, myself. They’re just messed up people, making bad decisions and I feel for them.

  2. I’m so glad you caught the pregnancy bit, because I wasn’t even sure it had happened with how quickly they glossed over it. But then I remembered that she has a daughter named Cathy, so I realized that it had happened. I still can’t get over Catherine and what an annoying person she turned out to be. Ugh! She’s so selfish! To be supposedly so in love with Heathcliff, but to choose to marry Linton because of his money and standing – that is just so Cathy aka selfish and mean. Ugh! I couldn’t stand reading her moaning – it drove me crazy! Anyhow, can’t write much since I’m at work, but will check back later on.

    • UGH! But I’m glad you guys feel my same annoyance. Maybe it’s a sign of the modern times, that other women can be irritated at Cathy’s behavior? I don’t know. But yeah, I wanted to reach through the pages and give her a good shake!
      Heathcliff is twisted. He’s scaring me a bit.

    • I think Catherine is only in love with Catherine herself. And Heathcliff is only in love with Heathcliff. How the two actually manage to convince themselves that they are in love with each other… well, I can well imagine, but it doesn’t suit me at all.

  3. Isabella seems like a woman that loves men who treat her badly. She hates living with Heathcliff, but she would hate it even more living without him. Isabella was warned about Heathcliff, so it’s her own fault for her situation, and I think she realizes that herself. I don’t know if I believed her when she said this:
    “Don’t put faith in a single word he speaks. He’s a lying fiend! a monster, and not a human being! I’ve been told I might leave him before; and I’ve made the attempt, but I dare not repeat it! ”

    I think that Heathcliff is very cruel, but he’s not a liar.

    Is what Cathy said here tell us Nelly’s real motive?

    “‘I see in you, Nelly,’ she continued dreamily, ‘an aged woman: you have grey hair and bent shoulders. This bed is the fairy cave under Penistone crags, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our heifers; pretending, while I am near, that they are only locks of wool.”

    Cathy has her own issues, but she seems very sensitive to the turmoil in the spiritual realm, and the conflicts and motives of those around her, so much that it affects her physical and mental health. I feel like she’s misunderstood.

  4. I wrote down these thoughts before I read your questions, Wallace.

    Exactly what is wrong with Cathy? After last week’s reading, she is furious and refuses to eat for three days, so I understand why she’s weak. Did she work herself up to an Illness (?!?) or did she really get sick? What is brain fever? Obviously, she has some mental illness problems since the doctor once said, “She should not be crossed.” Is she depressed? She predicts she’ll die in the spring, but she welcomes death (and she wants Heathcliff to come with her). Somewhere in the midst of this reading is the mention of an heir to TG, so Cathy is pregnant. She appears to just have given up. The powerful love between Cathy and Heathcliff is destructive.

    Poor Isabella. That she’s miserable in her marriage is predictable. Heathcliff only marries her because she’s heir to her brother’s fortune. (I wonder about this because heirs are always males during those times.) That he treats her brutally is not a surprise. Things are actually worse because she lives with drunken Hindley, who warns her to lock her door at night because he is tempted to kill Heathcliff. The only surprise here was that Edgar will not see his sister. He doesn’t know how badly she’s being treated, but he has to know she can’t be happy married to Heathcliff. And yet, having said all that, I still wonder why she leaves with Heathcliff after he harms her dog. She is obviously not worldly enough to understand what he’s made of, but how can she not rescue her dog?

    • I agree; how could she think that a man who could hang her dog could possibly be caring or trustworthy. Is she driven to this by competition with Catherine? Before Catherine, she had the complete attention of her beloved brother and was most likely the center of attention at TG. Once Catherine comes, to get her brother to notice her, she must pay homage to Catherine, dote on her, etc. They all seemed friendly, but what a blow to her pampered ego.

      Maybe somewhere along the way she realized that Catherine really did not care that much for them, but that she did care for Heathcliffe; maybe she thought she could compete with Catherine, even surpass her, if she could attain what Catherine desired but could not attain. Then again, maybe, like so many women, she was just really attracted to the “bad boy”. Much like Catherine, she is in a sort of brain fever or female hysteria (a Victorian women’s “condition”), and has lost the ability to reason; still, she is responsible for her actions, as are we all.

      *

    • I believe she’s just young and romantic enough to dream that he is good husband material and not see anything that dispels that dream — not even when he hangs the dog.

  5. I think there was a lot of VIctorian women suffering from hysteria about in Victoriana, their views on the matter being a little on the backward side, and they still saw them as fragile beings prone to fainting and so forth. In Cathy’s case, my sympathy is nuanced by the suspicion it’s a bit a of put on to win sympathy from all and sundry in a needy manner.

    As for Isabella and Heathcliff, he hangs dogs, if he was any more gothic he’d be called Alaric and sacking Rome, good grief woman, run for the hills (well other hills) though I suppose her options in this were limited. How cold is Edgar though refusing to see or help her in any way?

    On the covers, definitely like the Penguin classics cover is my favourite as it captures the wild remote windswept feel of the moors and the book.

  6. My favorite cover is the last (gooooooorgeous!) but I think the one at the very top of your post (the dark, cloudy landscape) fits the story the most. It just wuthers, doesn’t it?!

  7. Hi Wallace,
    I am still reading if you could put me back on the list.
    Thanks!

    I love covers 2 and 4! #3 reminds me of a Tim Burton movie poster!

    Crazy people in this book! What’s more disturbing to me than Heathcliff hanging the dog is young Hareton hanging a litter of puppies. Mentioned like it is a totally normal thing for a kid to do. So creepy!

  8. This is going to have to be my off week. I’m moving in the morning, so I’ve been crazy busy! Looking forward to catching up with you all next Friday!

  9. Okay, I am probably just over re-acting, as I have been constantly irritated by Catherine, but I feel the need to try to be more understanding about her, so here goes. She has had no real “mother” figure and, although her father loved her, his influence was short. She was raised by her brother (no winner there); Ellen Dean, who has served as servant and nursemaid; and the vile Joseph. While Ellen tried to help, the other two were not fit to raise turnips, let alone a young woman.

    With her strong and forceful temper and with no teachers or role models to guide her, it is no wonder she never learned to self-regulate. It is not too surprising that meeting someone clean and kind, with manner and education and money, someone who had a family where there was some vestige of common courtesy, might make her want some bit of this “normal” life for herself.

    That being said, she is still not a “likeable” character, but I begin to wonder if she is not the “ghost” of this gothic piece. I think she will prey on our minds much as she does on Linton’s and Heathcliffe’s. We want to be rid of her, but she persists, and perhaps poisons everyone around her

    Finally, I caught the pregnancy, but am I crazy when I ask if Lockwood is confessing that he may be falling for Catherine Healthcliffe? At the end of Chapter 14, left alone while Mrs. Dean goes downstairs, he comments, “I’ll extract wholesome medicines from Mrs. Dean’s bitter herbs; and firstly, let me beward of the fascination that lurks in Catherine Heathcliffe’s brilliant eyes. I should be in a curious taking if I surrendered my heart to that young person and the daughter turned out a second edition of the mother!” Was there a hint about his earlier that I missed?

    • I like this… “That being said, she is still not a “likeable” character, but I begin to wonder if she is not the “ghost” of this gothic piece. I think she will prey on our minds much as she does on Linton’s and Heathcliffe’s. We want to be rid of her, but she persists, and perhaps poisons everyone around her.”

      As for Lockwood falling for Catherine the 2nd… I think he noticed her when he was at Wuthering Heights, but there was no connection that we, as readers, would have picked up on. I do feel as though sometimes Brontë gets carried away with the atmosphere and forgets to tell us what is going on with the characters, and then throws something in to keep the story moving forward. I don’t really mind it, because I am enjoying the story so much, but I have definitely noticed the pattern.

  10. I’ll be honest – I now know why this novel Gothic is. The houses are always gloomy, the men are “tall, gaunt… and without neckerchief”, and – women can choose when they live and when they die (I didn’t know that pigeons’ feathers in a pillow hinder a woman’s death…). One other interesting statement, however, hints at the future twists of the plot: Cathy, in the midst of her feverish fit, declares that even if she’s buried twelve feet deep “I won’t rest till you are with me. I never will”. For a moment I felt sorry for Heathcliff (but only for a moment) – this obsession will be the essence of the novel. As to the other characters, Isabella is a character I can’t make out yet. Is she just spoiled and has to get her man, even if she’s to regret it two minutes afterwards? Or is she really so romantic, she feels she can change Heathcliff? Heathcliff who, by the way, never for a moment hides the fact he doesn’t love her? I’m truly amazed at the lightheartedness of both Isabella and Cathy — they give me the impression that everything in their lives is a game. Cathy wants to know how her husband feels about her so she can choose whether she’ll starve or not? Heathcliff is starting to grow on me…

  11. Wallace, I’ve decided to withdraw from the read-a-long. WH is a re-read for me and I’ve got so much going on right now, I’m having trouble keeping my head above water. Hopefully, I can join you for the next one.

  12. I don’t think Heathcliff was at all to blame for Isabella’s choice. I think Isabella was operating under the illusion of Romance – not taking the facts under consideration at all – forcing Heathcliff to be something he so very was not. It was all in her head (yes, hanging one’s dog would seem an unquestionable proof to most thinking humans!!).

    This is one of the reasons I love this book, and why I find it so radical. Think of all the insipid romance that fills people’s head even these days (the ostentatious weddings ending in divorce — is the individual ever taken into consideration?). The following passage is still shocking to hear:

    ‘She abandoned them under a delusion,’ he answered; ‘picturing in me a hero of romance, and expecting unlimited indulgences from my chivalrous devotion. I can hardly regard her in the light of a rational creature, so obstinately has she persisted in forming a fabulous notion of my character and acting on the false impressions she cherished. But, at last, I think she begins to know me: I don’t perceive the silly smiles and grimaces that provoked me at first; and the senseless incapability of discerning that I was in earnest when I gave her my opinion of her infatuation and herself. It was a marvellous effort of perspicacity to discover that I did not love her. I believed, at one time, no lessons could teach her that! (Ch XIV)

    This is still very pin-in-the-ballon today — imagine how it played in the cult of marriage, domesticity, and motherhood that was the Victorian era?

    • I completely and totally agree with you on this comment. But it’s not only Isabella acting under an illusion. Cathy is, when she considers her love for Heathcliff and decides to marry Linton. Edgar is, when he believes Cathy loves him. I’m quite convinced that even Heathcliff, despite all his manipulation and calculations, actually lives under an illusion. I’d recommend a dose of reality for all of them, but unless a strong new character enters the story there’s no way for it to happen :-) and I guess it’s just as well, because it would ruin the story!

      • Good point. Interesting that Brontë showcased this because it fits so well in the atmosphere. They are not very connected to the world out where they are, so not having a firm grasp on reality (and living under illusions) would make sense.

      • I agree with your statement, too. Cathy decides to turn her back on her true feelings (and nature), and operates under an illusion that this will fix things. Linton goes against all sense too — he has to see how Cathy feels about Heathcliff. I agree about Heathcliff too – because he thinks revenge is going to make the situation better, which is also an illusion.

  13. Cathy is a shell of herself after her illness. I love this scene — it’s like being shut in her room for three days made a transformation take place. A metamorphosis. She emerges quiet, dispassionate, uninterested…and pregnant!

    Don’t YOU see that face?’ she inquired, gazing earnestly at the mirror.

    And say what I could, I was incapable of making her comprehend it to be her own; so I rose and covered it with a shawl.

    ‘It’s behind there still!’ she pursued, anxiously. ‘And it stirred. Who is it? I hope it will not come out when you are gone! Oh! Nelly, the room is haunted! I’m afraid of being alone!’

    I took her hand in mine, and bid her be composed; for a succession of shudders convulsed her frame, and she would keep straining her gaze towards the glass.

    ‘There’s nobody here!’ I insisted. ‘It was YOURSELF, Mrs. Linton: you knew it a while since.’

    ‘Myself!’ she gasped, ‘and the clock is striking twelve! It’s true, then! that’s dreadful!’

    I like to think of Cathy as a symbol more than a real person. I think she represents what I was talking about in former weeks — nature vs. culture. She was wild and uncivilized, but then she stepped over to Thrushcross Grange/the Lintons/Civilization. She had to go through a change (starving herself) to transform from Catherine Earnshaw to Catherine Linton. She had to suppress her appetite.

    • “She had to go through a change (starving herself) to transform from Catherine Earnshaw to Catherine Linton. She had to suppress her appetite.”

      Nicely put.

  14. This is my absolute favorite passage in this week’s reading. Any empathy and investment in Heathcliff’s character comes from this — it’s what separates him from Edgar (and “society”). I also think the word sincerity is key. It’s no mistake that Nelly crosses over to Thrushcross Grange imo! (I totally think she makes it possible for Catherine to go off the deep end by not telling Edgar what was going on for three days. She hems and haws and makes excuses, but I don’t see them as being the least bit valid).

    I wish you had sincerity enough to tell me whether Catherine would suffer greatly from his loss: the fear that she would restrains me. And there you see the distinction between our feelings: had he been in my place, and I in his, though I hated him with a hatred that turned my life to gall, I never would have raised a hand against him. You may look incredulous, if you please! I never would have banished him from her society as long as she desired his. The moment her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drunk his blood! But, till then – if you don’t believe me, you don’t know me – till then, I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his head!’

  15. Isabella should have turned tail when her dog was hung! It amazes me that she stays with Heathcliff. She must be a glutton for punishment! I did miss the pregnancy…I don’t know about you, but when I am sick…that is not going to happen! Proof positive that I am not a Victorian woman. I had no idea of the age of Cathy or Isabella…that does explain some of their behaviors. As I reading the part when Heathcliff stated that he never loved Isabella I wondered what would Jane Eyre’s response have been?

  16. I like the 3rd cover and it does look like a Tim Burton movie poster as someone else said on here.

    I think that most of the women in this book seem to suffer from some sort of hysteria and the men seem either to be very weak or inherently cruel.

    I am slowly starting to get into this book now.

  17. Wallace, I’m going to have to bow out of this one, it turns out. My reading slump is so severe that not even Heathcliff and Cathy can fix it. :(

  18. I seem to be in the minority here, but I find Catherine absolutely delicious. What a blessedly wretched character! Cathy and Heathcliff bring out the worst in each other, and I love it. I can’t fault Isabella for running off with Heathcliff, who hasn’t fallen for the bad boy at one time or another? Oh to be 18 again. I truly believe that Cathy married Edgar to utilize all of her options in helping Heathcliff’s star to rise but crossed wires and misunderstandings hampered that.

    Cathy and Heathcliff reuniting absolutely wrecks me. This passage especially : “‘Oh, Cathy! Oh, my life! How can I bear it?’ was the first sentence he uttered, in a tone that did not seek to disguise his despair. And now he stared at her so earnestly that I thought the very intensity of his gaze would bring tears into his eyes; but they burned with anguish: they did not melt.” (Chapter XV) Heathcliff, you DO have feelings!

  19. I got through the reading, and have stayed on track but I am absolutely swamped at work so I haven’t been able to invest as much thought as I would like. I hope to be more interesting on Friday!

  20. Got through the reading for this week and honestly I felt that it was a woe is me type of section. I felt that Isabella was alone responsible in her choice; she is an adult and she made her choice to marry Heathcliff.

    I really didn’t catch that Catherine is pregnant, but I suppose reading Wuthering Heights while watching House DVDs is not a great idea. I personally don’t like Cathy; almost like we are supposed to feel sorry for her because she is ill, not because she made stupid decisions that have affected her and the people around her.

    Here’s to hoping that the next section is better.

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