Wuthering Heights Erodes to Withering Hype

         Wuthering Heights, written in 1847 by Emily Brontë, is by many accounts a work of literary genius. The way she molds the characters emotional plights as they seamlessly crash together in what can only be described as a tragic tale. I personally did not enjoy reading the book, but respected the writing and storytelling ability of Brontë. However, the 1939 film of the same name directed by William Wyler took this literary work and destroyed Brontë's vision. In this essay, I will explain why I think that William Wyler's Wuthering Heights has the least successful reflection of any original literary work from this semester.

         First, one must look at the absolute mockery that was made of the character Heathcliff, (Laurence Olivier). This weak, whiney, overacting pretty boy replaced Brontë's vision of a rough, angry and conflicted character. Under Wyler's guide, this tragic tale was turned into a love story without any semblance of character development. Catherine (Merle Oberon) was so hot and cold in this tale that the viewers may find themselves rooting for Heathcliff and Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald) instead of Heathcliff and Cathy.

         This is not to mention the absolute dismissal of the whole second half of the book. What about little Cathy and Heathcliff both having children? What about Isabella dying? The real drama from the story comes in Heathcliff's adaptation, dealing with all of the pitfalls and tragedies that come his way, well after the story ends. The true beauty comes from him in the second part of the book, a part that Wyler's movie conveniently avoids.

         In this essay, I have explained why it is my opinion that William Wyler's movie adaptation of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights least reflects the essence of the original work. The similarities were rare (the name of the book and the names of the characters stayed the same), and the story was changed to turn this tragic story into a feel good love story. Emily Brontë would not be happy, and neither was I.

Christian F. Runyon

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