The novel Wuthering Heights , written by Emily Brontë in 1847, is the perfect example of a tragic love story. It is a love story with many ironies in it. In the 1939 film, directed by William Wyler, the children were left out, although they played a very important part in the book. In the novel all of the children of the main characters ironically were the exact opposite of their parents.
The first example of this is Catherine Linton, the daughter of Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton, whereas, in the movie, Catherine, played by Merle Oberon, and Edgar, depicted by David Niven, were childless, without children to compensate for their shortcomings. In both versions, the mother Catherine had selfishly wanted material goodies her entire life. She wanted to have more money; she wanted the nicest things; and she gave up on true love based on these material things. In so doing, she caused much pain and suffering for others as well as for herself. In the book, her daughter, Catherine, on the other hand, was a simple person, who did not want or expect more than what was reasonable. She was unselfish and smart enough to realize that material goodies were not that important to her. Thus, the book is more richly satisfying because the reader can see a good character reacting to a bad one.
In the book, Hareton was the son of Catherine's selfish, cowardly, drunken older brother Hindley, who, as portrayed by Hugh Williams, was childless in the movie and, thus, had nothing redeeming to justify his existence, such as giving birth to a decent, kindly son. Hareton, unlike his father, was a good person who did not act like a wimp; nor did he have the attitude that he was better than everyone. Hindley had always hated Heathcliff, his adopted younger brother; and the feeling was mutual. But Heathcliff was very fond of Hareton, actually more so than of his own son (Linton). Many readers might have thought that Hareton was Heathcliff's own son if they had not been not told otherwise. The relationships between Hareton and Hindley and Heathcliff added depth and richness to the original story, sadly lacking in the movie.
What made a really satisfying conclusion to the book, unlike the ending of the movie, with the two ghost lovers wandering off into the mountains, was the fact that Hareton married the daughter of Heathcliff's one true love, Catherine, after the early demise of Linton Heathcliff, Heathcliff's sickly and selfish son.
Unlike his weak and ineffectual son, Linton, Heathcliff was a very tough, driven man who had worked his whole life to get what he wanted and to prove himself to others, while often trampling on them. Linton, on the other hand, did not care enough or he was just too sickly and laid back. He let everyone walk over him and seemed unwilling to work for anything if it meant there would be any sort of conflict. The fact that Heathcliff could have produced such a poor excuse for son, whom he had mistreated makes his character much richer and more despicable in the book than he was in the movie, as played by Laurence Olivier.
The children in this novel played a very important role. They show the reader how ironic the world can be, with children being so opposite of their parents. Without the children in the movie, the viewers were not able to see the whole complex love story, with all the ramifications of the original love story between Heathcliff and Catherine that Emily Brontë had depicted so effectively.