All in the Setting: Part One

        When I read Emily BrontŽís 1847 novel Wuthering Heights, filmed in 1939 by William Wyler, there was one character that seemed more important and substantial than all the rest. The setting in Wuthering Heights may not be a character in the strict interpretation of the word, but I found it to be a more vital aspect of the novel than any of the living, breathing personas that inhabit Wuthering Heights or Thrushcross Grange.

        All of the human characters in Wuthering Heights are defined by the setting in which they find themselves. It is the basis of the entire story. Take the distinction between the people who reside in Wuthering Heights and then Thrushcross Grange. Wuthering Heights is a gloomy, isolated place reflecting the characters who live there. Heathcliff was brought there as an orphan boy (Rex Downing) and is not the most well-behaved child. As he grows older his temper increases and he seems restless and unhappy. He (Laurence Olivier) moves away from Wuthering Heights, and upon his return he seems every bit a changed man. He is well-mannered and content. However, as he comes to live in Wuthering Heights again he deteriorates and is crazed and demented by the end of the novel. Hindley (Douglas Scott/Hugh Williams), another inhabitant of Wuthering Heights, is a flawed man whose life seems to revolve around his hatred for Heathcliff. By the end of the story Hindley loses all that he has in life.

        For contrast we look at the people who reside at Thrushcross Grange. The Grange is a nicer, livelier, more attractive place than Wuthering Heights. Owner Edgar Linton (David Niven) is a cordial and civilized man along with his lovely and energetic sister, Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald). She however, would have the misfortune of marrying Heathcliff and moving to Wuthering Heights, where she becomes a miserable shell of her former self.

        It is evident how important the setting is in Wuthering Heights to the characters that appear in the novel. The dark and gloomy setting of Wuthering Heights directly reflects the people found there, and by contrast the brighter and happier Thrushcross Grange houses more spirited and content characters. The setting would also be the main constituent found in the midst of the central conflicts in the novel and movie.

Darryl Brandon Clark