Darkness embraces all the surroundings. There is a stench of death, hatred, and bitterness in the air. If Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights could be compared to anything, I would say coal. Both are dark, hard, and cold.

     Early in the novel, the weather turns to blizzard-like conditions. This weather sets the tone for the rest of the novel. The same could be said for the 1939 movie, directed by William Wyler. The darkness of the storm when Catherine (Merle Oberon) ran to the mountain that was Heathcliff's (Laurence Olivier) and her own "castle," made the scene seem like the oncoming of death for Catherine. It foreshadows the cold curtain that covers Heathcliff's heart at the end of his life.

     Everyone throughout the novel was miserable. Hindley was a cold-hearted drunkard. He had only hate and jealousy in his heart for Heathcliff. He lost everything he had because of his love for the bottle. If he had known how the bottle was destroying his life, he might not have let it lead him to a life of loneliness. Hugh Williams displays this depair as Hindley in Wyler's film. Likewise, the character of "Hindley " (Ricardo, played by Luis Aceves Castaneda) in the Mexican/Spanish version entitled Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buñuel in 1954, portrayed these same characteristics. His drinking took its toll on his relationship with his son. He could not even show him any affection; therefore he was bitterly terrified of him.

     Catherine's desire for monetary and social standing led her to a life of false security with her husband, Edgar. She was selfish by marrying him only after she thought Heathcliff was gone. When her sister-in-law, Isabella, showed interest in Heathcliff, Catherine punished her for being with the man that she loved. However, her love for Heathcliff was like a lightswitch, turning it off and on as she pleased. The false love she had for Edgar made him turn his love for everyone surrounding him into hate. Everyone felt Edgar's sense of jealousy and hatred held for Heathcliff. More emphatically than Merle Oberon's Catherine in Wyler's movie, the "Catherine" (Catalina, portrayed by Irasema Dilian) character in the Buñuel version immediately came across as a dark character. The opening scene with her shooting the birds showed her as a cold-hearted character and showed that she had no appreciation for life in general.

     Heathcliff was the darkness throughout the novel. He brought out the worst in all of the characters. His sole priority in life was to exact revenge upon everyone that hurt him. He wanted everyone that had scorned him to pay. He trampled on the heart of the only innocent character throughout the entire novel. Isabella gave her heart to Heathcliff, and he shunned her in order to get back at Edgar. His love for Catherine reached a sick darkness. At one juncture, there was a discussion concerning the burial plans after his death. He wanted one side of his coffin left open and to remove one side of Catherine's in order for them to be together forever. In William Wyler's film, Olivier played the perfect Heathcliff. He came across as callous and uncaring towards everyone except for times with Catherine. Everyone else he did not show any remorse or caring for whatsoever. The same could be said for Jorge Mistral's Alejandro, the Heathcliff character in Buñuel's film.

     Throughout this novel death is dominant displayed by the death of seven different characters. Although both films were dark, Buñuel's version seemed the darker by the mistreatment of animals, the funeral procession for Catherine, and the ultimate murder of Haethcliff. Everyone in the novel and films was portrayed as ruthless when he or she tried to obtain what he or she was in search of, especially Catherine and Heathcliff. Maybe all of them, especially Catherine and Heathcliff truly are joined forever in the darkness of death.

Steven Dick

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