Comical and Mental Abuse

         A film and literature course is a good way to teach students one idea as a theme through books and movies. Both pieces of work would help to teach particular themes in different ways through many points of view. If I were to teach a film-and-literature class, I would follow one particular agenda. The agenda I would choose would be abusive relationships. Throughout the many film and literature combinations I have seen with in this class, most of the people were involved in some kind of abusive relationship. Most of the relationships varied from the comical to the tragic, with the women being abusive and abused, and the men being abusive and abused. If I were to pick a combination to use in my class, I would have to pick both Pygmalion and Wuthering Heights.

         Pygmalion, written in 1913 by George Bernard Shaw and filmed in 1938 by Athony Asquith and Leslie Howard, showed a comical side to an abusive relationship. Eliza (Wendy Hiller) and Higgins' (Leslie Howard) relationship was one of a kind. The funny concept about this relationship was that the abuse was both ways; it was not a one-way street. If Higgins was to say something negative to Eliza, she would be most excited to return the favor. I rather enjoyed these two; it almost seemed as if they were two school children picking at each other because they were too embarrassed to confess to their true feelings.

         On the other hand, Wuthering Heights, written in 1847 by Emily Brontë and filmed in 1939 by William Wyler, had a dark twist on an abusive relationship. Catherine (Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) were so in love with each other that they were willing to hurt themselves or each other to be together. It was almost unbearable to read or watch what was going to happen if either of them would get angry at each other. They would deliberately do something just for spite if they were angry. One example is evident when Heathcliff married Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald) just to hurt Catherine because she had married Edgar (David Niven). This type of relationship was not only unhealthy for them, but also for the people around the,. Most of the people around them was being dragged in the middle of the situation involuntarily.

         To me these two stories would demonstrate abusive relationships in the best way with a film-and-literature combination. With this way, one is able to read the story and then see it happen. When one sees something one has heard to read about, one begins to perceive things in a different light. With this class, I believe that it is the purpose to look at things in a new and objective manner.

Wendy Barger

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