Heathcliff and Catherine:

Star-Struck Lovers or Revengeful Quarrelers

         Upon finishing Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights I was, as always, utterly disgusted. The book, although well written and clever, is absolutely depressing. The story itself is supposedly written about great love, yet all I manage to see with each reading is absolute hate and revenge.

         Then, it is time for me to watch the 1939 movie, directed by William Wyler. Not knowing what to expect, and prepared for anything, I watch as Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff) and Merle Oberon (Catherine) play the characters I have come to know and hate. And yet, I find myself completely enthralled, and I actually enjoy the movie. Why, you ask? It differs so widely from the book that I actually find myself rooting for the star-struck lovers to reunite, instead of hoping that they both die miserably for all of the pain they have inflicted on others who are simply innocent bystanders in their mad lives.

         This leaves me with somewhat of an inner conflict. Although I find Wuthering Heights to be utterly depressing and do not like the story line, I can, however, appreciate the genius in the work. Great literature is great for a reason, and Emily Brontë certainly proves to be among the ranks of literature's best. The plot is complex and greatly intertwined with themes of love and revenge. Yes, the movie is more romantic; yes, I liked it better. However, the movie was made simply because the book was so cherished. To change what made it so cherished simply destroys the purpose for making the movie in the first place.

         Movies are supposed to make money and therefore are often made to fulfill the desires of an audience rather than to tell a magnificent story. Although the theatrical version of Wuthering Heights is appealing to a more traditional sense of romanticism, it somewhat cheapens a great work by a great author. It seems to say that Brontë's version, although famous, would have been better off if the story went this way instead. It is the kind of interpretation that would make Shakespeare roll over in his grave.

A. Katherine Boyd

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