"Wuthering Heights": Book Discussion and Gooseberry Muffins Recipe
by Emily Bronte is a classic story about two despicable creatures who are both the same parts of one dark soul, mirroring that which we all have within us. They are torn apart by stubbornness and circumstance, once they’ve inexplicably obtained your sympathy. Heathcliff, a product of the dark alleys of London, was brought as a young urchin to the home of Catherine Earnshaw. While she loved running as wild as the moors on which they both played as children, she one day realized her longing for acceptance into society, the allure of fine clothes, as well as what she could obtain from playing societies’ games of good manners. Followed ever after by her neighbor, Edgar Linton, an upper class boy with money whom she agrees to wed; she betrays her true feelings for Heathcliff only to the narrator, the children’s nurse maid, Nelly. This story is unusually written, told in the future from Nelly to Heathcliff’s neighbor, Mr. Lockwood. He has just had an angry interlude with the bitter, lonely Heathcliff, a man now living with his daughter-in-law and a few servants (but pay attention to their names). Lockwood is left to wonder, with the reader, what happened to the enigmatic Catherine, and why does Heathcliff react so strongly at the mere mention of her name? This mystery drives you to read this story and piece together their disturbed history, long after both protagonists have revealed themselves as selfish, stubborn children in adult form. Colored also by a self-righteous servant named Joseph who speaks in a difficult, but humorous, Scottish brogue, Wuthering Heights is an addicting indulgence for anyone who has loved a despicable character. Wuthering Heights
1. How do you feel about the narrative points of view in this story, first from Lockwood, then from Nelly? Do they make the story more interesting, or difficult to follow?
2. How much did you struggle understanding Joseph’s thick Irish brogue? Is there any other book, film, or tv character he reminds you of? Have you ever heard an accent like his before?
3. How despicable do you think Heathcliff in stating that it was a Herculean effort to get Isabella to hate him? Or is he defensible, since he never lied to her about his nature or that he didn’t love her? Was she just a fool who saw what she pleased?
4. Is Catherine so ill because she’s still in love with a man she couldn’t possibly have married (or else she would have faced financial ruin, and now she can financially sustain them both)? Or is she a brat who is never content with what she has, and is tormenting a good man who only wants her happiness?
5. Would you say that Heathcliff and Catherine really love each other? Or do they even know what love is? According to what definition do they or don’t they love?
6. Does Nelly seem as if she is ever selfish or self-serving? What about how she treated Catherine as a child, was that in her best interests? Or when she says staying with Cathy was the most despicable thing Heathcliff ever did, and that all three would be done for, was she mostly thinking of herself or her masters?
7. Whose love for Catherine was more selfish, Edgar’s or Heathcliff’s?
8. What do you think about Joseph’s passing the responsibility of Hareton’s soul to Heathcliff? Shouldn’t Joseph be partly responsible for never correcting Hareton?
9. Is Isabella a copycat of her mother, or do you see traces of her father in her?
10. What did you think of the ending of the story? Was it satisfactory and true to the entire theme? Or were you hoping for something else?
In the first chapter of Wuthering Heights, Lockwood finds to eat there a table laid out with oatcakes and various meats. An oatcake is basically a very dense type of muffin, often unsweetened. Several pages later, gooseberry bushes are mentioned as something he must climb around and through to obtain entrance into the building. This recipe is less dense and tastier than an oatcake, and incorporates gooseberries. Most of the time, these can be found at your local farmer’s market or some large produce stands. A suggested adjustment is the incorporation of one teaspoon of cinnamon, one half teaspoon of nutmeg, and one half teaspoon of cloves or allspice to make them spicier, in order to replicate the spicy aroma of peat moss on the moors (and the spicy unpredictability of Heathcliff’s nature).
The gooseberries used in this recipe are Cape Gooseberries (Peruvian Ground Cherries), as true English gooseberries can be difficult to acquire. But any variety will work, though the best season to find them is summer. You can also substitute gooseberry jam if you'd like to make these muffins out of season.
Gooseberry Oat Muffins
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for sprinkling, if desired
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 pint fresh gooseberries, halved
- Preheat your oven to 350° F. Remove the gooseberries from their shells and wash and dry. Then halve and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, combine sugar and melted butter for one to two minutes until thoroughly mixed. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. To the mixer, add the Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and vanilla extract and mix for one minute. Drop the speed to low and add the flour mixture a little at a time. Add the milk or heavy cream, followed by one egg. Mix for half a minute, then add the oats and the last egg. Mix on medium-low just until all the flour and egg disappear and look completely mixed in.
- Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula if any of the flour is sticking to the walls of the bowl. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the gooseberries, scooping from the back side of the bowl, to underneath the bottom of the batter in a circular motion towards you. Repeat around the bowl about six or seven times until the berries appear to be distributed evenly throughout the batter.
- In a paper-lined (or well oil-sprayed and sprinkled with flour in each well) muffin tin, dollop a a heaping tablespoon of muffin batter into each muffin well. Bake for about 16-18 minutes or until the sides of the muffins begin to turn brown. Makes 1 dozen muffins.
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Gooseberry Oat Muffins
Other books by the Bronte sisters (this was the only one written by Emily, her other works are poetry) are by Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, and The Professor, and by Anne: and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Agnes Grey
If you liked this book because of its delving into the darker side of human nature, try The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman.
If you like this book because of the tragedy of two fatalist characters that want to be together but are torn apart and must keep themselves a secret, try The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.
“He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”
“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I'm going to tell it - but take care not to smile at any part of it.”
“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 the 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!”
“I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.”
“If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in a day.”
“Terror made me cruel . . .”
“Honest people don't hide their deeds.”
“I have not broken your heart - you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.”
“Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.”
“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”
“She burned too bright for this world.”
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© 2018 Amanda Leitch