Wuthering Heights…Just Does not Fit the Part.

         After reading the novel Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë in 1847, I had developed pictures in my mind of each of the characters; the color of their hair, their approximate height and weight, and their overall look was included. The most important aspect of each character that was retained from the reading was their attitude. Some of the characters were very soft spoken and simple, while others were harsh, demanding, and very complex throughout the novel. When a novel is adapted to a film the readers of that novel expect those character descriptions to be upheld and carried out into the film.

         One character in particular did not make the cut in the film Wuthering Heights, by William Wyler and filmed in 1939, is Catherine Earnshaw (Merle Oberon). In the novel Wuthering Heights, Catherine is an outspoken woman who has no reserves. She is complex and vile in the way that she loves Heathcliff. She loves him so deeply that it sometimes seems harsh. “I am Heathcliff!” shouts Catherine in the novel Wuthering Heights. She realizes that they are the same person, within two bodies. This image is greatly displayed in Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buñuel in 1954. Catalina (Irasema Dilián) captures the essence of Catherine from the novel Wuthering Heights. Catalina (Irasema Dilián) fights for her love with Alejandro (Jorge Mistral), and tries to prevent Isabella (Lilia Prado) from loving him as well. She tries so hard that they verbally fight in one scene over his love. The love that she has for Alejandro (Jorge Mistral) in Los Abismos de Pasion is not mirrored in the film, directed by William Wyler, Wuthering Heights.

         The Catherine (Merle Oberon), in Wuthering Heights, is much more passive and ill-equipped to deal with the love for Heathcliff that is portrayed in the novel by Emily Brontë. In the film, Wuthering Heights, Catherine (Merle Oberon) is more concerned with herself rather than the raw passionate love for Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier). Catherine’s (Merle Oberon) love for Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) inadvertently seems fake.

         In conclusion, Irasema Dilián did a much better job in the film Los Abismos de Pasion, directed by Luis Buñuel, than Merle Oberon did in Wuthering Heights, by William Wyler. Irasema captured the essence of Catherine in Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë where Merle Oberon just did not fit the part.

Brittany Hall