The Children Make the Story

         The 1847 novel Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontė, is a brilliantly written story about lost love, social stratification, and eventually love found. The story is brilliant because of all the little details that are included in it. In particular, the setting, the dialect and the descriptions are what make it such a successful work. But during the film adaptation one major flaw was made when the marriage of their children was left out of the movies.

         In both the book and movie, Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Olivier) and Catherine (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon) are young lovers; but the only issue is that Heathcliff is an orphan that Cathy's father, Mr. Earnshaw (Cecil Kellaway), has taken into their home. Mr. Earnshaw dies, and Hindley (Douglas Scott/Hugh Williams) takes over the estate and begins treating Heathcliff like a mere stable boy instead of showing him equal treatment, as Mr. Earnshaw did.

         Cathy cannot handle the idea of marrying a mere stable boy, so she tells Heathcliff to leave and build a fortune and return. He eventually does return with a fortune and buys their old house, but by that point Cathy is married to the rich Edgar Linton (David Niven) at Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff goes on to marry Isabella, the sister of Edgar, out of spite, and shortly thereafter Cathy dies.

         This is the point where the movie version of Wuthering Heights ends. But I feel that this is a very poor place for the story to end. In the novel, Cathy, Heathcliff, and Hindley have children. Cathy's daughter first marries Linton, the dying son of Heathcliff, and is about to marry Hareton, the son of Hindley, on New Year's Day. This is a very redeeming portion of the novel for me. I feel that this allows everything to come full circle since Cathy and Linton's marriage was short-lived and miserable. Since the movie never explores this fact, it left me feeling sad that they never got to live their lives together as man and wife. At the end of the book, the Earnshaw and the Linton families come together as though Heathcliff had never been there.

Brandon Anderson

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