Differently Depicting Relationships

         Lots of people imply things for one to infer by reading between the lines. However, when film makers film a book, they tend to imply different things in a different way from what the original author had intended. This can be frustrating because, when people read a book and then watch the film, they usually want the film to depict the book exactly. This does not always happen, and some people are really disappointed. It is better when a person watches a film then reads the book to discover the rest of the story, which lies inside the book, as implied by the author. These two situations can be related to William Wyler's 1939 film Wuthering Heights, which was based on Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights.

         In the novel it is very clear that the relationship that was shared with Heathcliff and Catherine has ruined so many of the other characters' lives. However, in the film, which mainly focused on the relationship of Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Olivier) and Catherine (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon), this is not as powerfully depicted as it is in the book. For example, this is seen in the different portrayals of Isabella Linton, the sister of Edgar Linton, who marries Catherine.  In the novel, a person can read and understand better how Heathcliff ruins her life by marrying him and how he ruins his son's life as well as his mothers'. The love that Heathcliff never shows toward Isabella is illustrated in the book when Isabella finally leaves Heathcliff and she goes to the south and has his son. Then Isabella dies, and Linton Heathcliff is forced to live with his father and never receives the attention that he needs to survive at Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is so wrapped up in the love for Catherine that he never attends to his son's sickly needs. In the film a person can see that Heathcliff never loves Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald); but she is alive, never having given birth to a son, when Lockwood comes to Wuthering Heights.

         In the case of two other important characters, Hindley and Edgar, who have been ruined by Heathcliff and Catherine, the book depicts this ruination much more intensely and dramatically. The film could have shown Hugh Williams' rather gentlemanly Hindley suffering as horribly as his more boorish counterpart did in the book, especially how he would get drunk and rage against Heathcliff. As for Edgar Linton his character, as played by David Niven in the movie, does not fight for Catherine as does his counterpart in the novel. At one point, Brontë's Edgar orders Heathcliff out of the house for good and forces Catherine to choose between Heathcliff and himself. In the film Edgar Linton is much more submissive to Heathcliff. Both of the cinematic characters, Hindley and Edgar, should have been more aggressive, as they were in Brontë's book, in their actions.

         In conclusion, the relations with and effects of the love and Heathcliff and Catherine upon the other characters is much more intense and fully developed than they are in the movie. Therefore, to get the full picture of these complex relationships, one needs to read Brontë's book as well as see Wyler's movie.

Crystal Pittman

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