The Case of the Cinematically Missing Children

         The 1939 cinematic adaptation of Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights was a brilliant portrayal of the classic novel about love. It was brilliantly made, and director William Wyler did a beautiful job of maintaining the message of the novel in his work. There was, however, one important factor missing from this work; and that was the children. One of the things I enjoyed the most from the novel was the children brought about from the conflict of the story. There was such an irony of all the children; and, although I understand why there was no mention of children in the movie, I feel that this was an important aspect in understanding the reality of the story.

         We start off with Catherine, the child of Edgar Linton and Catherine Earnshaw. She was quite different than her mother in that she was much more rational and realistic in the way she acted. Her motives were simple and she did not expect more than what was possible for her. She loved what she loved and disliked what she disliked. Her mother, on the other hand, wanted the fairy tale and lived her life in a storybook that she had created. The younger Catherine was much more down to earth than her somewhat delusional mother, which ended up being her mother's tragic flaw.

         Hareton Earnshaw was the son of Hindley Earnshaw and Frances Earnshaw. He ended up being a very strong character and at the end married the younger Catherine. The irony of Hareton was that his father and Heathcliff had such a hatred for each other, and yet at the end we found that Heathcliff looked more highly upon Hareton than he did his own son. It was as if Hareton possessed the qualities that Heathcliff had once possessed; and thus he was more of a son to Heathcliff than Linton (his biological child) was.

         Finally we come to the weakly Linton, Heathcliff and Isabella's son. The irony in this child is quite obvious once one realizes that he is the son of the strong and determined Heathcliff. His whole life is based on getting what he wants. His pathetic son, Linton, simply shies away from conflict and allows anyone to walk all over him. He is a sickly child and whimpers away his life to an early death.

         This irony in the children is just another fascinating aspect to this classic tale of love and family. The story of the children is so important to the story, and I feel that perhaps the movie could have been greatly helped by incorporating the lives of these children into the story. When one really looks at the story of Wuthering Heights, one can find so many side stories that could be examined further. I feel that these extra characters are what make the written story so incredibly amazing, and the movie therefore suffers from the lack of them.

Kristin Meschler

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