Wuthering Heights :: Week Five

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 Five: Read to Chapter XX


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I’ve always thought these posters, of an entire book framed, were pretty cool, but there was never one that I really, really thought I’d like hanging up. I LOVE this one. I can’t decide if it’s because of the windblown (who I’m assuming is) Cathy standing on the cliff of the moors (even though when I looked up where the Brontë’s lived I see no cliffs to the sea… wasn’t she placing them in a similar setting?), or if it’s because I am still adoooooring this book… but me likey!

In the comments last week, I was discussing with someone how it can be a bit jarring the way Brontë forgets to tell us about something until allofasudden (feels like that doesn’t it?) it happens. Oh, Cathy’s very, VERY sick! Oh, Cathy’s very, VERY pregnant! Oh, Cathy’s dead (see, readers, I wasn’t kidding about Cathy being sick). It’s almost as if she gets lost in creating the atmosphere and the drama and forgets to add in plot points to move the story along so quickly “insert plot point here” and moves on to haunt us again. The thing is – I don’t mind this. Not with this book. It’s possible that I am just loving the story so much (including the gothic, haunting atmosphere) that I’d forgive anything. How are you all feeling about this?

Again, I’ll jump in and converse with you in the comments… take it away! (Can you believe we’re more than half way through?! Only 126 pages to go. Sad.)

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
Nancy H.

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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45 thoughts on “Wuthering Heights :: Week Five

  1. I’m devastatingly behind on my reading, BUT I’ve got a flight coming up soon so I plan on catching up then. The coincidence being that it is for my recently departed grandmother, and she was the one who taught me to read before pre-school. I think she would appreciate my visual consumption of WH on the way to her memorial. :)

  2. No doubt this is an interesting, if depressing, story, but I wasn’t expecting the intensity of the characters…which might be why it has become a classic. I agree, Wallace, that Bronte’s technique of “forgetting” to tell us important happenings in lieu of creating the atmosphere of the book is pure genius. It’s been a struggle for me not to get too caught up in the dark aspects of the characters.

    And yet, once again, I do (get caught up). The big question for me this week was why didn’t Isabella open the door for Hindley, so he could put Heathcliff out of his misery? After Heathcliff beats Hindley and throws a knife at Isabella, she bolts and knocks over Hareton, who is in the process of hanging a litter of puppies. (If they were around in this century, they’d have a reality show on TLC!) This makes me wonder how Bronte dreamed up these people and the plot. Did she know people like this?

    The chapter describing the relationship between Edgar and his daughter was some type of dramatic relief for me. She is undoubtedly spoiled, but the child isn’t a copy of her mother, physically or emotionally. We’ve met her in the early chapters, so we know she doesn’t escape the “curse” that surrounds this family, but she did appear to experience some genuine (as opposed to perverted) love in her early years.

    Heathcliff responds predictably when he learns about his son who is named Linton. “They wish me to hate it too, do they?” How horrible Edgar must have felt when he realized that Heathcliff wanted Linton. After promising his dying sister he’d care for the boy, he had to send him to Wuthering Heights. Too bad there weren’t any social services in those days. We will soon see how the progeny of the original three will fare as adults.

    BTW, love the poster!

    • Further bit of interesting-ness — the property laws were such that since Catherine and Edgar had a girl child, Edgar’s money and property would go to Linton (Isabella’s child) because he was male and his sibling’s child. So no wonder Heathcliff wants him. Eeep.

      • Very interesting note on the property laws. Heathcliff seems to be all about money and standing. Where did he get his money when he disappeared for those months? I can see why he is the way he is…but taking on a child…yikes!

    • “but she did appear to experience some genuine (as opposed to perverted) love in her early years”
      Yes, but I was appalled at how isolated she is. We know that the region is already quite solitary (Lockwood — that’s his name, right? — goes there to live in isolation) and even that is not enough, she has to be kept inside the Grange too. Poor child!

      • I agree! Isolation is a very dangerous thing for a growing child, and we have seen how it encourages her to not only venture out of bounds, so to speak, when she can, but to think that the wold revolves around her. The way she treats Hareton at Wuthering Heights is appalling, but it’s the only way in which one might expect her to act given that she’s had no interaction with anyone except those who dote on her.

  3. Have we reached the climax in the book? Now that Cathy is dead, who will be the opposing power to Heathcliff? Will that turn him into a bigger monster? (I truly can’t remember the plot anymore, so I was rather anxious when I reached the end of this part). As to the intensity, you’re right Wallace, I have to be careful and read every word, lest I miss an element that will prepare me for further development…

    I’m still processing what I’ve read but there are two points that I marked immediately: I’m slightly concerned about Heathcliff’s ability to take on the children. I may see how he gets his son, but what about Hareton? As far as I can remember, Heathcliff was not officially adopted, so there’s no legal connection with the child. How could he just announce he’ll raise him?

    And then, it’s once more the expression of endless love, which, however cynic we might be, we can’t deny it’s what keeps this book interesting: in the previous section it was Cathy declaring her undying love, now it’s Heathcliff’s turn. A sure sign that these two souls will be forever doomed…

  4. Story of my life..too many things to do not enough sleep or time to relax! I’m behind again! What’s new right? But I’m trying to catch up!

    I will say however I love that poster/picture! I never knew those things existed! So pretty!

  5. Wallace, maybe she is on the top of Pennistone Crags! (google Ponden Kirk to see the real life inspiration for Pennistone Crags – I think she is on that big rock where the fairy cave is).

  6. Interesting note in my Penguin Classics —

    In chapter II, Pt 2 (Ch 16 in other versions that are not in parts):

    I don’t know if it be a peculiarity in me, but I am seldom otherwise than happy while watching in the chamber of death, should no frenzied or despairing mourner share the duty with me. I see a repose that neither earth nor hell can break, and I feel an assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter – the Eternity they have entered – where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in its fulness. I noticed on that occasion how much selfishness there is even in a love like Mr. Linton’s, when he so regretted Catherine’s blessed release! To be sure, one might have doubted, after the wayward and impatient existence she had led, whether she merited a haven of peace at last. One might doubt in seasons of cold reflection; but not then, in the presence of her corpse. It asserted its own tranquillity, which seemed a pledge of equal quiet to its former inhabitants.

    The note says: Modern editions have tended to normalize this sentence by printing ‘inhabitant’. However both the 1847 first edition and Charlotte’s 1850 amended edition use the plural of the noun, which is richly suggestive of the shared identity of Catherine and Heathcliff.

    I would also argue that it represents the Earnshaw/Linton dichotomy that I talked about last week. I’m curious — does your edition have inhabitant or inhabitants? What do you make of it?

    I also read that some editions tended to “translate” Joseph in the text! I personally think that’s terrible — despite the difficulty in understanding Joseph, I love to hear the middle english-esque phrases plus jeeze — it’s the WAY EMILY WROTE IT!! Disturbing to think one might not be reading what the author intended.

    • I have the same edition as you –Penguin Classics. I think it could mean both ways you suggest or that Nelly thought that an evil spirit, or spirits had taken up habitation in Cathy.
      And I’m with you, I love Joseph’s Yorkshire dialect.

    • Just checked, and my Gutenberg.org edition has “inhabitant”. But the difference is interesting. It could be a slip on Bronte’s part, but even so it’s so revealing!
      As for Joseph, I can’t understand one word, so I guess it’s the original. I can see why you’d find the idea of a “translation” disturbing; there would be a lot to say about that kind of modernization — but I’ll just say that I’ll stick with the original, but I’m fine with such editions existing, *as long as they state clearly that they intervened on the text*.

    • Oh, one more thing: that section about Nell being “happy while watching in the chamber of death” is the only one so far that gave me the creeps. All the Gothic atmosphere is just that, atmosphere, and the ghost appearance in the first chapters is just a dream — but this? Brrrrr….

    • I have the Vintage version and it uses the singular “inhabitant,” but I find if fascinating that she used the plural. With the plural, it has much more impact and further strengthens the bond between Heathcliff and Cathy. Not to mention the metaphysical ideas behind such a syntax.

  7. Oh Cathy! This section of reading has one of my favorite quotes from any book in it :
    “‘And I pray one prayer–I repeat it till my tongue stiffens–Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you–haunt me, then! The murdered DO haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts HAVE wandered on earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! only DO not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I CANNOT live without my life! I CANNOT live without my soul!'” (chapter XVI) Oh Heathcliff. Oh my heart.

    I find it a bit telling that Catherine is buried “in a corner of the kirkyard, where the wall is so low that heath and bilberry plants have climbed over it from the moor” and not in the chapel with the Lintons, or buried with the Earnshaws. It just reminds me of this wild untamed child, commanding the moors with her shadow, Heathcliff.

    I love the budding tension between Cathy 2.0 and Hareton… Shades of Cathy And Heathcliff, I’d say.

    PS. I actually own this Wuthering Heights text poster, and while I wish I could attach a photo to this comment, you’ll have to do with a link : http://postertext.com/products/wuthering-heights
    It’s gorgeous and LARGE in person, and I love it.

    • That quote is heart wrenching. I couldn’t help but think back to the beginning of the story, when Lockwood sees Cathy’s ghost and Heathcliff calls out for her: “‘Come in! come in!’ he sobbed. ‘Cathy, do come. Oh do–once more! Oh! my heart’s darling, hear me this time–Catherine, at last!'” (p. 31). I think this can be interpreted into two ways–that he has seen her and that he hasn’t. Given the overall nature of the story, I’m inclined to see it as he hasn’t seen her since she died and it’s actually quite heart breaking.

      • The book leaves the question open– your interpretation seems right and heartbreaking indeed. I’m surprised how much of the story is about death.

        • It really is, isn’t it? And death of every kind. I believe it could be argued that Bronte has introduced physical death, emotional death (demonstrated in both Heathcliff and Cathy), the death of morality (Heathcliff), the death of innocence (Hareton and the younger Cathy), and social death (in a way–Lockwood). It seems that love is the only living, breathing force in the story–and it’s what has killed everyone! Except, possibly, for Cathy’s father.

  8. I really like that poster!

    About the “insert plot point here”, to me it seems to show the negligence of Nelly towards Cathy.

    • That’s interesting. I’ve always thought the “insert major plot point” here technique was a failing on Bronte’s part. I really like the idea it’s really a reflection on our story teller than our author.

    • You already know I tend not to agree with your reading of Nell, but I can see how you could be right here.
      (OT: I hope that just because we do not agree on Nell, you won’t think I have anything against you!)

      • You’ll be happy to know that I’ve soften my opinion on Nelly. :) I think she has a good heart and good intentions. And no I don’t take disagreements personally — I hope I didn’t come across that way. :)

  9. Oh I am so sorry, but i think this is going to have to be my off week. Quite quickly i am really intrigued by joonan’s comment. I hadn’ t thought of it before but i agree that “inserting plot points” are a negligence of Nelly to Catherine in the story. Wow, it really strikes me as brilliant of Bronte.

  10. I’m afraid I don’t have much to contribute to the discussion of this book. But I would like to raise two points this week:
    1. Did anyone else catch Joseph calling Isabel “Cathy”? It was during one of Isabel’s narratives, but because I do not understand Joseph I may have misunderstood.
    2. It seems to me that a good job would work wonders for Catherine and for most of the other characters too. They remind me of Emma Bovary, who had nothing to do the whole day and so managed to ruin her life; in the same way, Catherine has plenty of time to roam in her own fantasies to the point of growing hysteric and to the point of dying from it. The same can be said of Hindley, Edgar and Heathcliff, although they, being men, don’t grow hysteric but express it in other ways (how sexist is that difference, anyway?). That’s the main reason why I like Nell: she’s the only major working character; and being a working woman, she has no time for Catherine’s nonsense. Maybe that makes her unjust, but I think that’s only what comes from social differences.

  11. Wow, some incredibly gripping and intense writing this week, though was there some spait of dog hanging going on in the wilds of Victorian Yorkshire that posterity has hitherto covered up? Another reference to it this week from Hareton.

    The anguish Edgar’s having to hand over Linton to Heathcliff fair drips off the page and again just highlight’s Bronte’s command of her art, as do the scenes twixt Heathcliff & Cathy, though I’m starting to worry that only Nelly, Lockwood and young Cathy will still be alive come the novel’s end.

    That some editions have ‘translated’ Joseph is plain wrong, doing that is a book-ruiningly, buttock-clenchingly poor decision – the whole point of his speech is to suggest a hostile otherness that goes with the moors and their wutheritude (smites offending editors with smiting stick)

  12. I’m a bit behind on my reading (again) this week, but from what I have read…I’m actually glad that we don’t have to hear about Catherine anymore. She was just so selfish and such a an annoying character, I’m quite glad to be done with her. And as far as her daughter goes – it looks like we are going to have another Catherine/Heathcliff romance in Cathy and Hareton. And, Heathcliff is just awful. I don’t care that he was heartbroken by Catherine – the way he treated Isabella and the people he lives with is just horrid. I am so far, not a fan of any of the characters. They are pretty awful people. But the writing is still engaging me, so in spite of my dislike for who I’m reading about, I’m enjoying what I’m reading.

  13. Poor Heathcliffe, there is a part of me that pities him; even while I must say he is so detestable. Everything he does seems to be directed at revenge. He nurses a personal vendetta against the world, and even Cathy, who he loves, he torments. Because she chose Linton over him (at least to his mind) and because he hates for looking down on him, he marries Isabella. His hope is that this will torture Cathy and Linton, Cathy because she will have a taste of how it feels to be rejected, Linton because his society sister is marrying a curmudgeon.

    Having inserted the knife, he cannot help but twist it. He treats Isabella so horribly that while she will not let someone kill him, she can at least wish wholeheartedly that someone would. When she relates the story to Ellen and Ellen asks her if she has no pity for Heathcliff, Isabella says, “He is not a human being…. I gave him my heart and he took it and pinched it to death and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen, and since he destroyed mine, I have not the power to feel for him….”

    I can certainly feel pity for Isabella. She has no life, no comfort until Linton is born. Her impetuous decision to marry Heathcliffe ends in her losing her brother and her heart. However, when Heathcliffe mourns, wandering to the grave, living without peace, suffering alone (which I know he richly deserves) my heart breaks for him, too. Heathcliffe has had very little unconditional love — for a few years from Cathy’s father, from Cathy — though not the love he may have wanted, and for a few days from Isabella before she discovered who he really was. His despair must be great, but his despair does not bring about any change for him. When he emerges from his grief, he sets out to be more hurtful than ever before. How sad! I know he is not the sympathic lead here, but still a tragedy.

  14. I have been sick this last week and even though I did my reading, I have not felt well enough to organize my thoughts and to comment. I am still enjoying this immensely. The isolation of these characters and the haunting atmosphere of the moors is intoxicating! Yesterday it finally felt like Fall where I live. The first real cold front came in and was so perfect. As I walked down the country road I live on and took in my surroundings – the long, hilly pastures, the falling leaves, the dark, hazy skies, the majestic, colorful trees and the wind blowing through them – it was so Wuthering Heights! Ashley J’s quote above was wonderful, and I agree with Roberta, that the relationship between Edgar and young Catherine was a nice respite from the other relationships. I am eager to find out what happens next! I do like the poster and thought the mention of the Penistone Crags was interesting. Is this the famous fairy cave that they made a movie about? I thinks the name of the movie was ‘Believe’. I also found it interesting when they said that Hindley should be buried at a crossroads. I had never heard of that before! Very curious.

    • Aw, Missy I hate to hear that you’ve been sick — I hope your feeling better.

      When Heathcliff said Hindley should be buried at the cross-roads I was thinking he meant that his grave should not be respected, he would be placed where people would trample on him in all directions.

      The movie you mentioned sounds interesting — I’ll have to look that up. :)

      • Thank you, Joon Ann :-) I feel much better. That makes a lot of sense about the crossroads. I really enjoyed that movie. It was a good family movie that was based on a true story. I don’t really remember a “cave” specifically, but it was definitely about fairies in England, so I wondered if it could be the same place?

  15. Wow. Catherine and Heathcliff are so unlikable generally, but so convincing in their total love for each other. I started thinking that Catherine really did love both Linton and Heathcliff–different as they were, maybe each spoke to something different in her. And did Heathcliff have something to do with Hindley’s death? It seemed like something was missing from the chain of events that left room for Heathcliff to have taken is revenge more directly than by gambling with Hindley. Susan E/Reader Lane

  16. In all honesty, I liked this section much better than the previous section. I particularly liked Cathy better than Catherine; she seems the sort of person that can get along with almost anybody, at least that is my initial impression of her. I love that she is curious and despite her wealth, doesn’t come across as being a snob; maybe it would have been different if Catherine had lived, but I guess one can only speculate.

    I feel somewhat sorry for Isabella, but she made her choice and clearly has to live with that decision.

    Overall, I felt that this section far less gloomy than the previous sections and am looking forward to reading the next section. Talk to you in a few days…

  17. Oh man, I am so late to this party. I only finished the reading for this week last night. The good news is that I was able to get a good bit done for Friday. Oh work responsibilities, why must you keep me from reading???

    A couple people have already noted this but this selection really made me see why this book is such a classic. These characters are sort of off-kilter but they are amazingly well written. I think it can be very difficult to write really crazy characters like these ones without feeling like its forced.

    I thought that Heathcliff was especially well written. I still feel bad for him but that is slowly wearing off. He seems so bent on trying to make up for everything and everyone that does something to him for himself that he’s kind of wearing out my patience. I wish he would mature a little bit more…

  18. I haven’t given this reading or discussion the attention it deserves and am going to bow out less than gracefully. Thank you for the opportunity to read in such great company, but it just is not fair as I am not contributing timely or even caught up with the reading. If possible, I’d like to try again but totally understand and respect your no bale and consistent posting rule for future readings. Happy reading to all and oh, these poor, wretched characters ….. May they find some kind of peace, though I doubt they will!

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