Wuthering Heights

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Wuthering Heights Book Poster Image
Classic story of love and revenge still captivates.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

Lovers embrace and kiss.

Language
Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written bysisterwhocares August 6, 2012

Gritty, intense, romantic classic paints haunting characters in its narrative

Being extremely picky with books (even classic novels, which are the best), it is very difficult to find a true gem in the mountain of young adult literature th... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byPotterheadWhovian104 October 19, 2014

The best worst book you will ever read.

Let's make one thing clear here, Wuthering Heights is the most depressing book ever. I was told it was a love story, and it's really more of a hate st... Continue reading

What's the story?

A lodger who has rented a manor house in Yorkshire becomes acquainted with his aloof, surly landlord, Heathcliff, and his family. The lodger, Mr. Lockwood, is forced to spend a night at his landlord's residence, called Wuthering Heights, and he is frightened by what he witnesses in the house, making him curious about the landlord and his lovely, silent daughter-in-law, Catherine. When Lockwood becomes ill, he asks his housekeeper, Ellen Dean, to tell him Heathcliff and Catherine's history, and Mrs. Dean obliges him with a detailed account of Heathcliff's great, star-crossed love, and how Catherine became part of his household.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what events shape Heathcliff's character. Why does he become so cruel?

  • The one character Heathcliff seems to retain some sympathy for is Hareton Earnshaw. Why do you think that is the case?

  • Many readers are curious about Bronte's choice of Ellen Dean as the narrator of the novel. Do you think she is a reliable narrator? Why do you think Bronte has her tell the story?

  • Why do you think this book is considered a classic of English literature?

Book details

For kids who love romance

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