I went to the internet to help me, as Kelly Gallagher explains, activate prior knowledge about the text and frame the text and put the book in a context with which I am already familiar.
Here is what I found:
“Many people, generally those who have never read the book, consider Wuthering Heights to be a straightforward, if intense, love story — Romeo and Juliet on the Yorkshire Moors. But this is a mistake. Really the story is one of revenge. It follows the life of Heathcliff, a mysterious gypsy-like person, from childhood (about seven years old) to his death in his late thirties. Heathcliff rises in his adopted family and then is reduced to the status of a servant, running away when the young woman he loves decides to marry another. He returns later, rich and educated, and sets about gaining his revenge on the two families that he believed ruined his life.”
This loss of status and mistreatment at the hands of one’s new family reminded me of the story of Cinderella.
Why Should I Care?
Concerned that you won’t like Wuthering Heights? Think you’ll get bored reading a book that’s over 150 years old? Before you give up on Emily Brontë’s one and only novel, ask yourself a couple questions:
- Do you like creepy stories about haunted houses?
- How about stories with elaborate revenge schemes?
- Are you a fan of Edward Cullen, from Twilight? (Because before there was Edward, there was Heathcliff.)
- Do you believe in soul mates?
- Are you sick of reading stories where the girl ends up with a Prince Charming or a Romeo?
If you said yes to any of these questions, we’re willing to bet that once you pick up Wuthering Heights, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s a real page-turner, full of ghoulish behavior, ghosts, passionate love, and revenge. Maybe you’ve even heard of the main character, Heathcliff, as a dark, brooding, obsessive romantic idol. This guy is definitely no Prince Charming. Emily Brontë changed the tone of the whole romantic hero thing and made Heathcliff nasty and cruel and, in spite of all that, sexy and sympathetic. One hundred and fifty years later, pop culture is still obsessed with Heathcliff-like characters (Edward Cullen, anyone?).
YouTube also has a lot of useful videos that can help frame a text, such as this summary by Shmoop.com:
Some other facts and notes that I found out about the book:
- From http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/wuthering/: “Victorian readers found the book shocking and inappropriate in its depiction of passionate, ungoverned love and cruelty.”
- From Shmoop.com: To Heathcliff, whoever controls the house has the power, so even though he seeks revenge for all of his mistreatment, he does so by acquiring real estate.
- From Shmoop.comWith her violently romantic plot line and passionate characters, Emily Brontë has no problem drawing the reader into the book. And once you get through the first two chapters, you are definitely hooked. Heathcliff seems like such a jerk, yet he is one of the most famous romantic protagonists ever.
Up next: Setting a Purpose for Reading