Wuthering Heights versus Romeo and Juliet

         Wuthering Height, directed in 1939 by William Wyler and based on Emily Brontė's 1847 book, reminds me of the movie Romeo and Juliet, directed in 1996 by Baz Luhrmann and based on William Shakespeare's play. I liked the movie Romeo and Juliet, so I liked Wuthering Heights. When I begin reading this book I realized how similar it was to Romeo and Juliet. In each of the stories there are two separate classes of people, and both stories involve love and drama in the families.

         In Wuthering Heights Catherine was Juliet, and Heathcliff was Romeo. Catherine came from a well-to-do family; and she was elegant and educated, especially as depicted by Merle Oberon in the movie. Catherine was not let out of the house much, so she sneaked out with her lover. All of this is similar to what Juliet (Claire Danes) was like. Juliet was rich and elegant. She was kept in the house as well, so she sneaked out to meet her lover.

         Catherine's lover was a poor stable boy, Heathcliff, played with romantic effectiveness by Laurence Olivier, who was not approved by Catherine's brother, Hindley (Hugh Williams), or the rest of the people in the area. Heathcliff came about when Catherine and Hindley's father brought him home as a small child. When their father died, Hindley sent Heathcliff out to the stable to live. When Heathcliff was older, he left to go find work and make some money for them; but, while he was gone, Catherine got married to someone everyone else wanted her to marry. Juliet's lover, Romeo (Leonardo di Caprio), was a member of a family, which consisted of the sworn enemies of her family members. The family members were not allowed to speak to each other.

         When Heathcliff came back, he was rich; but he found out that Catherine had gotten married. Catherine got very ill with a fever and eventually died in the arms of her lover. Once Catherine died, Heathcliff willed himself to die. Catherine never got a chance to be with the person she was truly in love with.

         Eventually Romeo was cast out of the town because of something he had done. He had killed Juliet's cousin in a street brawl instigated by the Capulets, but Friar Tuck (Pete Postelthwaite) married Romeo and Juliet anyway to help bring about the end to the bloody family feud. Juliet was being forced to marry too quickly to the County Paris, whom her father liked. Juliet was so upset about marrying him since she had already been married, that she made arrangements with the priest to mislead the others. She was to take a potion that would make her seem as though she were dead until Romeo could come and get her. Instead of Romeo getting this message in time, he thought she was really died; and he took poison to kill himself right beside Juliet on her tomb. When Juliet woke from her sleep, she found that Romeo had drunk poison, so she killed herself. A difference that I found was that neither Catherine nor Heathcliff committed suicide. Heathcliff wanted to die, but he did not take anything or use anything to do so. Romeo and Juliet both killed themselves for each other.

         So in this story two pairs of lovers never got to be with each other because of their respective families. In each story the lovers died for their love of each other.

Jennifer Myers

Table of Contents