Brontë's Response

     What have they done? Where is my story on the effects of revenge? William Wyler's 1939 adaptation of my novel for the silver screen has transferred my 1847 masterpiece from a work of art into fluff. These film makers have destroyed my masterpiece. They have ruined my work in many ways. First, they took my Catherine’s personality away. Second, they omitted the ever important second generation. And third, they gave my story a fairy tale ending with the ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff walking the earth arm in arm for eternity.

     My Catherine was a woman with character, with personality, with spunk, a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Catherine, as portrayed in the film by Merle Oberon, was a flighty woman who has no clue as to what she desires. This Catherine was portrayed as a woman who had a very limited intelligence; the Catherine I wrote was a bright woman with an intelligence far greater than that portrayed in this film.

     One thing, which bothers me more than the transformation of Catherine’s personality, is the omission of the second generation as written in my novel. For me, this second generation is of extreme importance to the work’s integration. Only through Heathcliff’s revenge being enacted upon this second generation do we truly see the complete destructive powers of hate and revenge. By the omitting of this generation much of what I penned about the evils of revenge was lost, leaving only the remnants of a love story gone wrong, where the two lovers finally become coupled only in death, which brings me to my last complaint about this so-called adaptation, the happy ending for Catherine and Heathcliff.

     It is true that my original work had a happy ending; however, with the ending as portrayed in the film it seems as though everything is good and that there is a happy ending for Heathcliff and Catherine. My original happy ending was for Catherine Linton and Hareton Earnshaw; they will be married and live happily ever after despite the sins of their forefathers.

Nolan Patton

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