Weltering Heights:

The Many Emotions of Heathcliff

      In the area of human emotions, an Oscar should surely go to the 1847 novel and 1939 film, Wuthering Heights. Although Emily Brontë would have had no idea her novel would be made into a film by William Wyler almost ninety years later in 1939, she certainly created a story so filled with human emotion that it helps reader and film-viewer alike riveted.

      In my opinion, the main recipient--or perhaps "experience"--of most of the emotional turmoil in this novel/film is Heathcliff. At the beginning of the story, as played by Rex Downing, he has been abandoned (causing feelings of helplessness as well as anger) and "saved" by Mr. Earnshaw (Cecil Kellaway) producing feeling of love and gratitude, possibly for the first time). Since the story of Wuthering Heights spans almost the entire difficult life of Heathcliff, the reader/viewer witnesses many emotions that a troubled, turbulent personality may experience. Heathcliff, due to his relationship with Hindley Earnshaw, experiences degradation, resentment, and ultimately, cold hatred. It is because of Hindley that Heathcliff so despicably needs and desire revenge, although he harbors much the same feelings against Edgar Linton (David Niven).

      It is through and for Catherine that Heathchiff experiences positive emotions like love, the warmth of affection, and acceptance. Unfortunately, Catherine also introduces Heathcliff to the pain of betrayal (when she refuses him and marries Edgar Linton), as well as the tormenting emotion of yearning. Heathcliff yearns all his life for Catherine--to no avail. Although his longing turns him into a better, spiteful man after Catherine's death, the reader/viewer gets the feeling that the only time Heathcliff truly experiences happiness is at the end of his life when he is reunited with her.

Melody Enoch

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