A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Set on the moors of Yorkshire, England, Wuthering Heights gives readers some ideas about English country life in the mid-19th century. Emily Bronte writes a few characters of the servant class with heavy Yorkshire accents, which can be informative but also difficult to decipher. This is partly how she distinguishes between the poor and the affluent in the world of the book, which is very telling about the haves and have-nots in Victorian English society.
If there is a positive message in Wuthering Heights, it must be that romantic love can be a source of joy if the lovers are forgiving and open-hearted. Whereas Cathy and Heathcliff suffer for their pride, young Catherine, who is raised surrounded by love and luxury, learns to see beyond superficial values and finds her diamond in the rough.
Positive Role Models
The boundless, tragic love affair between Cathy and Heathcliff is the most important relationship in Wuthering Heights, and there are lessons to be learned from their errors: Cathy is torn apart when she denies her own feelings, and there is no joy in Heathcliff's revenge at any stage. Cathy's daughter, Catherine, however, has a beautiful relationship with her loving father, Edgar, and she learns to look below the surface to find happiness and love.
Violence & Scariness
There's not a quantity of gore, but the violence is cruel and disturbing. The continual struggle between young Heathcliff and his adoptive brother, Hindley, results in fist fights and rock throwing, and their relationship does not improve with age. Also in the novel: dog bites, a dog being hung (though it is rescued), and a grown male character striking and physically intimidating a teen girl.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lovers embrace and kiss.
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Products & Purchases
No brand names here, but characters are often judged based on their clothing and appearance.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Hindley drinks to excess as a form of escape from depression - one of the few weaknesses/addictions he possesses, including gambling. Also, wine is used medicinally, and ale is consumed for refreshment. An older character smokes a pipe.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wuthering Heights is a gorgeous, epic novel of love and revenge, full of passion and unforgettable characters. The novel bears little resemblance to familiar film versions in which Heathcliff is interpreted as a misunderstood romantic. Heathcliff's pride and suffering make him cruel, menacing, and his and Cathy's end is not the stuff of fairy tales. However, the novel is thrilling, and it is full of its own kind of romance. It's also worth noting that there are almost certainly ghosts in this book, though Bronte leaves it up to the reader whether or not to believe.
Is It Any Good?
WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a poetic masterpiece of love and revenge. Every emotion felt by the characters is so high, or so low, their feelings alone make the novel a thrilling ride. The book is unconventional in a sense, in that there are arguably no real heroes or heroines, but the story is a serious page-turner, and the characters' feelings take on a riveting life of their own.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.