Family Values: Good and Bad

         If I were to teach a course on family values to a group of students, it would have to include Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Brontë in 1847 and filmed in 1939 by William Wyler. The book has both positive and negative aspects that would get the point across.

         Mr. Earnshaw (Cecil Kellaway) is a prime example of what a good man should be. He takes a young Heathcliff (Rex Downing) off the streets and treats him as if he were his own son. Heathcliff has the privilege of living in the house with the family, riding the horses, eating at the dinner table, and playing with Catherine (Sarita Wooton) as if she were his sister.

         Hindley (Douglas Scott), the brother, treats Heathcliff as if he were a piece of dirt. Hindley treats Heathcliff with disrespect and does not act as if he even cares if Heathcliff is alive. When Earnshaw dies, Hindley (Hugh Williams) takes over the family estate and kicks Heathcliff out into the stables. Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) becomes the stable boy instead of the brother and family member that Earnshaw has made him.

         Good family values come from respecting one's elders and, if they are good people, learning from them. Hindley should respect his father's wishes and treat Heathcliff as a family member.

         Earnshaw is a prime example of good family values with his acts of unselfishness. Hindley is the opposite with his selfish, disrespectful and disloyal behavior. Students would come out of the class understanding a little about family values from the book and film, but there would be much more to teach. The subject of family values should not be treated lightly.

Lynda Jackson

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