The Coupling Query

         It has been said that there is someone for everyone. Young ladies spend their adult lives looking for Mr. Right. They believe that there is only one right person for them, that if they find that person they must stay with that person through their lives. It makes one wonder then if that was what Catherine Earnshaw in Emily Brontë's 1884 Wuthering Heights, filmed in 1939 by William Wyler, and Catherine Sloper in Henry James's 1880 Washington Square, filmed as The Heiress in 1949 also by William Wyler, were thinking.

         Catherine Earnshaw (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon) grew up with whom she thought was the love of her life, Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Oliver). Their childhood friendship evolved into so much more than they knew because they each knew how the other would react to certain situations, where they would run off to if they felt threatened or needed to run away, and how the other really felt towards everything.

         Unfortunately, Catherine Earnshaw let material things change her mind about the love of her life. That person ended up being money and the finer things in life. She chose Edgar Linton (David Niven) because of the fancy dresses and parties, the ease of her life, and the fact that it was away from her brother, Hindley (Douglas Scott/Hugh Williams. Heathcliff, with a broken heart because of the loss of his love, ran away to try to make something of himself and more than just a rogue. He came back wanting to love Catherine Earnshaw but settled for her sister-in-law, Isabella Linton (Geraldine Fitzgerald).

         In both marriages, there was not a true happiness. They both knew that their love was only for one person; but, in Heathcliff's case, bitterness and hatred began to fill the void in his heart until he was not the gorgeous being that Catherine remembered being, only a bitter, lonely man. He still wound up alone after Catherine's death. He never was able to open his heart again to allow for love until his death when he could be reunited with Catherine.

         Another time period, another couple, Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland) lived alone with her father, Dr. Austin Sloper (Ralph Richardson). She was a plain girl, unlike Catherine Earnshaw, who never knew anything but what she thought was just the love of her father. Her father wanted her to be happy and to marry soon, with her age creeping up. He pushed her to attend parties and to become involved so she could meet young men. When she finally met someone, her father would not approve of the pair.

         Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift) was not from the upper class but had established himself as a handsome young gentleman who was looking for his place in society, and a job. He was the first man to give Catherine total attention, and she adored him for his dark good looks and his gentle ease with her.

         Like Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Sloper had a man in the middle that changed her fate in love. Her father disapproved of Morris. He believed Morris was only interested in Catherine for her inheritance, not for who she is. He took her away from Morris for some time in Europe, hoping Catherine's love would break; but it did not. His pulling Catherine away did not cause a break-up in her feelings but only made them stronger because she began to hate her father. Unfortunately, like Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Sloper remained unhappy because she started to believe her father about Morris. Once her father died, she was alone in her large house on Washington Square and denied Morris a chance to make a comeback in her heart and her life.

         So perhaps there is that one person for everyone to love and spend the rest of his or her with. Unfortunately, all too often there will be things that tear those couples apart and so cripple the couples that they can never find true love with anyone else, as was the case with the two Catherines.

Megan Arszman

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