The Clash of the Titans

     The works studied over the past semester all revolve, for the most part, around women and their relationships with others. The males in these works have usually served as antagonists, or, at least, catalysts for some change in the females. What would happen if the males from one work ran into each other through some literary overlap? I predict the results would make for good literature and good cinema.

     All the major encountered males have strong presence (not necessarily physical). Heathcliff from Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights and Stanley Kowalski from Tennessee Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire are two examples. Who is the better of the two males? I would say Stanley. Heathcliff would outrank Stanley in the brains department, but Stanley's animalistic rage would do him considerable favors. If they ever had cause to fight, Stanley would break Heathcliff's nose while Heathcliff was still providing Stanley with details of his tormented, hate-filled soul.

     The books reveal it all. Brontë's anti-hero spoke often of inflicting physical damage on his foes, but the tally of actual physical damage done is rather low. In fact, if I am not mistaken, his dogs do most of the attacking. Williams' lovable beast, however, manages in a far fewer amount of pages two counts of spouse abuse, various acts of mechanical/object destruction, and one rape (a crime of violence, remember, not of sex.) These acts are not to be condoned, obviously; but they reflect the nature of the man involved. Stanley is a bull, and he has no qualms about letting his fists do the talking.

     Heathcliff would not be a total washout, however. If there were other options besides a purely physical confrontation, I say Heathcliff would win for sure. His black heart and ticking brain would come up with all kinds of nasty plots to ruin Stanley's life and hurt him emotionally (to the point that he could not even muster up the strength to fight.) This point was of course evidenced, in his sinister manipulation of Hindley and the young generation.

     In the films a new problem arises--Two Heathcliffs to one Stan or rather, one Heathcliff (William Wyler's 1939 film) and one Alejandro (Luis Bunuel's 1954 Los Abismos de Pasion). How would Laurence Olivier and Jorge Mistral fare against Marlon The Wild One Brando? Mistral is more physically powerful than Olivier, and his pig-killing ritual would intimidate most folks. He would be a good match for Brando (Elia Kazan's 1951 movie), but I think Brando would win. Brando has positivity on his side--he has no remorse for his actions, no torment in his soul.

     In a sense, Brando won anyway, even though there was no actual conflict between the characters. In Williams' play, Stella did not leave, and in the movie she (Kim Hunter) only fled upstairs. The love interests of Wuthering Heights/Los Abismos di Pasion fled to the solace of their graves. The torment of the ladies' demise would put these boys at an immediate disadvantage.

Jared R. Nelson

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