A Hate Letter To Wuthering Heights
There are books that you read once and every sentence makes you tremble with disgust and hatred for the words on the page. Hello and welcome to my hate letter for Wuthering Heights.
I’m pretty sure this book tops my “books I hate with every fiber of my being” list. I know I’ve already talked about why The Great Gatsby is a trash book at the beginning of this year, and that book is pretty close to the top of my hate list too, but that post is nothing compared to what is about to transpire.
Published in 1847, Wuthering Heights was, and still is, branded as a gothic romance novel. Despite what Emily Brontë originally intended, Wuthering Heights is the story of problematic people who deserve nothing despite thinking they deserve the world. And it is certainly not a romance.
Let’s start talking about these characters that I loathe so much. Our main characters are Catherine and Heathcliff. Heathcliff was adopted by Catherine’s family in childhood. The pair became close and supposedly love each other deeply; we’ll talk more on this in a little bit because I have so many thoughts and issues with their relationship. Truthfully, their relationship is going to be the majority of this post. Back to my synopsis though, Catherine’s brother Hindley dislikes Heathcliff from the moment he is brought into the family. And once Catherine and Hindley’s father passes away, Hindley is determined to make Heathcliff’s life hell.
While Heathcliff is treated as a servant, Catherine begins being treated like a high society lady. While both characters are taking on new roles, both characters are taking on more disgusting personality traits than they already had. In short, both Catherine and Heathcliff begin acting more and more like assholes. They both are hot-headed, have tempers that are set off by the smallest of problems, and think they deserve more than they have. Catherine in particular believes in that final point.
In theory, she’s ready to become a true high society lady. She’s ready to boss people around and make them miserable. She’s ready to marry her way up in the world; alas that means she doesn’t have room for the un-wealthy Heathcliff in her life.
I get that this was written during a time where love wasn’t what people were marrying for. Marriage was meant for social climbing. But if Catherine loved Heathcliff as passionately as she and everyone else in this novel claimed, she should and could have married him. Enough characters runaway and elope during the course of this book that Catherine and Heathcliff could have easily done the same.
But nope, she instead marries into a richer family as many women did during the time. I don’t blame her for doing what was considered normal back then, but she just developed into an even worse person by doing so.
She didn't treat her new family with any type of respect. She didn’t bother talking with many people from her old life. And she just became even more spoiled, bratty, and just a generally worse person. When it comes to character development, she did the opposite of what most characters do and became a massive bitch instead of realizing how horrible of a person she had turned into before changing for the better.
Now let’s talk about Heathcliff. As the male lead, he’s supposed to be our romantic hero, but never have I ever seen a romantic interest so bitter, so angry, so volatile that I hope he falls from a cliff. All the red flags go up when Heathcliff appears. He’s not charming. He’s problematic and very mentally abusive towards women. I don’t understand what the female characters of this novel are supposed to see in him.
Like, he makes a fortune somehow, but that’s all he has going for him. As Carrie Underwood would say, he’s the devil in disguise. The women in this novel can do so much better.
No excuses can be made about Heathcliff’s behavior throughout this book. Not only is he mentally abusive towards the women he’s in relationships with, he’s physically abusive towards others around him as well. He’s an absolutely horrid father and husband and he takes advantage of those suffering from genuine issues. Not to mention his controlling nature. I’m pretty sure Satan has more compassion than this man.
Put Catherine and Heathcliff together and the world may as well implode. For as much as these two claim to love each other, every time they are alone together, their conversations are full of backhanded compliments, manipulation, and a general distrust. Heathcliff is taking advantage of Catherine’s brother and she knows it. Even if she doesn’t want to admit it, she doesn’t fully trust him.
The same can be said for Heathcliff; he doesn’t fully trust Catherine. She is married to another man and continues to carry on an emotional affair with Heathcliff for her entire marriage. He knows that she’s capable of “loving” another. Even if these two were married, there is no telling if Catherine would be faithful to Heathcliff in marriage. He doesn’t trust her.
Even if this distrust didn’t exist between the pair, their relationship would still be a mess. As I’ve said, they are both so volatile. Both of them are prone to screaming and manipulating others; they’re both extremely toxic. I genuinely don’t know what else to say on the matter of their relationship. No one should be in a relationship like Heathcliff’s and Catherine’s, and I don’t know how people think they are an iconic romantic couple. They’re both abusive partners. Seriously, if you think Wuthering Heights is an amazing romance novel please write in and and explain why you think so because I’m genuinely curious as to how you view this relationship.
I haven’t even touched on the second half of this novel yet; I said this post was going to be mainly on the toxic relationship Heathcliff and Catherine have.
Things just get worse in the second half. I don’t even know where exactly to start so I’m just going to list off the horrible things Heathcliff does. He kidnaps multiple people and traps them in his house, continues to mentally and physically abuse those around him, tries to control Catherine from beyond the grave, and forces Catherine’s orphaned daughter to marry his son after he kidnaps her. Again, please tell me what readers are supposed to see in this man because right now he deserves to have his liver pecked out by an eagle each day.
There is too much going on in this novel. Not only am I not rooting for any character but I’m also getting lost with every page I turn because random shit keeps happening out of nowhere. Emily Brontë, what the hell did you write!? What was going on through your head as you wrote this?!
The characters don’t get better in the second half of the book either. With Catherine dead, and Heathcliff a bit of a recluse, the narrative shifts to Catherine’s daughter who is also named Catherine. Much like in Wuthering Heights, Catherine’s daughter shall be referred to Young Catherine in this post to differentiate between mother and daughter.
Young Catherine is the spitting image of her mother; temper and all. Her anger is more well placed seeing as she was kidnapped and forced to marry Heathcliff’s son before he dies and leaves the young girl a widow. No wonder she has a cruel exterior, but this still doesn’t negate the fact that she actively chooses to be rude towards her only other living family member or the few other people she sees. Her anger is mainly focused on her cousin Hareton though.
She makes fun of Hareton because he is unable to read or write. He grew up a servant in Heathcliff’s home and is treated like crap after his father dies in massive debt to the leading man/antagonist of the novel. Heathcliff’s whole revenge plan includes treating Hareton as he himself was treated as a young man. Hareton was never supposed to have any type of education nor was he to even rise about the station he was thrust.
In the grand scheme of things, Heathcliff’s anger and cruelty make sense to some extent, but Young Catherine’s rude humor at Hareton’s expense is just wrong. She’s being rude just to be rude. Her cruelty is severally misplaced.
Yet by the epilogue of the book, readers are supposed to believe that Young Catherine and Hareton have fallen in love. And in the span of a few months too. Like years of bullying suddenly turn to love.
In all seriousness, what is going on in this book?
Who in their right mind labeled this a romance? Better question: why is it still labeled a romance? Cause I don’t think any couple in this book is in love or actually likes one another. Reading this from a 2020 perspective, all the characters in this book are abusive in some way shape or form. While their behavior may have been more accepted in the mid-1800’s, their behavior nowadays is absolutely despicable and should always be viewed as such.
Everything about Wuthering Heights is a hot mess. There is maybe one likable character throughout the entirety of the story, everything that sounds outlandish and crazy happens in this story but doesn’t help it, and every page wanted me to make like Miss Piggy and bang my head on a table. This novel would be better off lost to history. It’s certainly a novel I want to forget I have ever read. Perhaps I’ll bang my head on a table until I don’t remember this novel.