The Spoiled Brat

     Emily Brontė's 1847 book, Wuthering Heights, was very interesting, as was William Wyler's 1939 film representation of the book. However, there were many incongruencies between the book and the movie. I found the movie to be much more interesting than the book because the film moved faster than the book. However, I think that is because I am a very visual person. In this paper, I will compare and contrast some of the more outstanding incongruencies between Brontė's and Wyler's versions of Wuthering Heights. There were so many differences between the film and the book that I cannot go into all of them in this one paper, so I shall target the more obvious ones.

     The book begins at Wuthering Heights with Mr. Lockwood's unwanted entrance into Mr. Heathcliff's home. Mr. Lockwood then finds that the middle-aged woman in Mr. Heathcliff's company is his daughter-in-law. However, in the film the woman is Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald), Mr. Heathcliff's wife. This would not be a major difference unless one considers that, in the book, Isabella dies early on.

     The book also states that Mr. Earnshaw died while sitting by the fire with Cathy's head in his lap. However, in the film, the doctor (Donald Crisp) comes down from his room and pronounces him (Cecil Kellaway) dead.

     The book also outlines the goings-on of the second generation and Heathcliff's revenge upon them for the harsh treatment inflicted upon him, especially after the death of Mr. Earnshaw. On the contrary, the film ends after the first generation, eliminating the ugly revenge carried out upon Hareton Earnshaw, Catherine Linton, and Linton Heathcliff.

     The death scenes were greatly different between the book and the Wyler film. In the book, Heathcliff basically starved himself to death. His face was described as being nasty, whereas in the film, Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) followed the ghost of Cathy (Merle Oberon) out onto the moors in the cold and died of what we can assume was hypothermia at the crag they used to play at together. Goldwyn did not want the audience to see a dead Heathcliff.

     The characters in the book and in the movie were all very believable. The nastiness and selfishness of the characters were portrayed very well through both forms. The characters in the movie matched the physical descriptions of the characters in the book except for Heathcliff. Heathcliff in one scene showed his hands as those of a stable boy. In the book, his hands were described as being filthy; but, in the film they were almost immaculate. This was the case because Producer Samuel Goldwyn, Wyler's boss, believed people of that time did not want to see dirt on the film screen, but this scene lost the impact that it had in the book.

Mendy Adair

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