Gossip Queen?

         I once heard that Americans spend two thirds of their conversation gossiping. After reading Emily Brontë's novel, Wuthering Heights (1847) and watching William Wyler's version of it (1939), I am beginning to think that figure could possibly be right, even if that means people gossiped as far back as the eighteenth century. In my opinion, Ellen (Flora Robson) could very well have embroidered the entire story of Wuthering Heights to tell visitors or to simply amuse herself

         Wuthering Heights was full of passion and hatred between Catherine and Heathcliff and is told mainly through the eyes of Ellen (Nelly) Dean. Ellen has been a servant with the Earnshaws as well as the Lintons for all her life; and, because of this, she knows them better than anyone else. She could be described as independent and high spirited, objectively witnessing the tortured relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. The question is: was she always objective, or did she have a tendency to meddle into others' business?

         Perhaps Ellen was a true gossip, and elaborated the story of Wuthering Heights in order to make it more interesting to Lockwood. After watching the movie, I concur Ellen was an instigator who enjoyed watching the conflict around her. Because of this, I imagine she grew very restless and bored at times inside the house everyday. Of course, she was a first-hand witness to every event which occurred inside the house and was often the person Catherine (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Olivier) went to for advice. I sense she may have gone somewhat crazy at the thought of serving others for the rest of her life. Visitors at that time were few and far between. Therefore, when Lockwood (Miles Mander) arrived Ellen was given a wonderful opportunity to talk with someone she did not know and inform him of all the juicy gossip she was keeping to herself. Of course, a true gossip would always elaborate the story to make it more interesting.

         Understanding that Heathcliff himself went a little crazy, I realize that she could very well have concocted this tragic love story to tell others. However, whether this idea has any truth to it will forever remain a mystery.

Jessica Wade

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