Social Classes Shake Up Wuthering Heights and The Notebook

        In the 1847 book, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontė, and the 1938 movie, directed by William Wyler, the two main characters, Heathcliff (Rex Downing/Laurence Oliver) and Catherine (Sarita Wooten/Merle Oberon), carry the plot with their shaky relationship. In the 2004 movie, The Notebook, based on the book by author Nicholas Sparks and directed by Nick Cassavetes, the two main characters, Noah Calhoun, played by actor Ryan Gosling and Allie Hamilton, depicted by actress, Rachel McAdams, have a relationship that I found similar to Heathcliff and Catherine's. Just as Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship is a battle between social class, Noah and Allie's relationship is a conflict between social classes as well. The following explains the similarities between these two relationships.

        Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship is similar to that of Noah and Allie's since both pairings begin with the two of them together in love until another person in a higher social class interrupts. Heathcliff and Catherine are together until she was staying at Thrushcross Grange and then falls in love with the handsome Edgar Linton (David Niven). From this point on, she has a different outlook on Heathcliff as she views him as common and dirty as opposed to the sophisticated and refined Edgar Linton. Catherine deep down, secretly hides her feelings of love for Heathcliff as she confesses to the housekeeper Nelly Dean (Flora Robson): "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am." Eventually Edgar and Catherine marry, and Heathcliff still remains jealous and angry since he has overheard Catherine's confession to Nelly Dean.

        Noah and Allie's summer romance is interrupted after she goes to New York in the fall for college. Allie's mother disagrees with the love between them since Noah is from a lower class than that of their family. She keeps the letters that Noah writes her daily away from Allie. Their love dissolves; and soon after Allie meets a southern gentleman, Lon, played by actor James Marsden, who is an heir to old money. She then finds herself engaged to Lon; but unhappy deep inside, as she cannot forget about her feelings for her first love, Noah. Noah remains in their hometown as a single, unsatisfied man who unsuccessfully tries to find love with women that resemble Allie's appearance. This is how someone with a higher social status breaks up both these relationships.

        The outcome of both relationships differs slightly, but both are alike since the initial love between them triumphs in the end. Heathcliff and Catherine never end up together in marriage since she is married to Edgar, but Heathcliff visits her at her deathbed. He holds her and she tells him not to leave even though Edgar is close by. This gives some closure to him since he gets to talk to her before she dies. Also, both the book and movie hint that Catherine and Heathcliff will be together for eternity. Noah and Allie are reunited on this earth after she makes a decision to stay with him when she realizes where her heart should be. The two are married and have a family together. They eventually die as one, embraced next to each other, content and in love as always. No doubt they too will be together for all eternity, like Heathcliff and Catherine.

        I find the idea of social classes being a major part of Wuthering Heights and The Notebook to be interesting since both of these were written in different times. I think that this will continue to remain a conflict in other movies, books, and everyday life in the future.

Beth Ann Dunavant

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