A Tangled Web of Lies

         Life is full of ups and downs. No one can be truly honest throughout one's entire life. A little lie here and there never really hurts anyone. Wait . . . that's a lie in itself. Sir Walter Scott's assertion from Marmion, "What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive," should be the theme for the semester. Lies and torture abound in Wuthering Heights, A Doll's House, and A Streetcar Named Desire.

         In Emily Brontë's 1847 Wuthering Heights, filmed in 1939 by William Wyler, the web is ever so large and incapacitating. Deceit, lies, and broken hearts fill the countryside with Catherine (Merle Oberson), Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier), Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald), and Edgar (David Niven). All the lies and denials of true love end up eventually killing them all inside and outside. The story would be different if Catherine had let go of her want of lots of money and accepted that she would be truly happy just being with Heathcliff. Doing this would have saved Edgar and Isabella the pain of knowing their love was not truly returned. This would have brought the happiness Mr. Earnshaw (Cecil Kellaway) wanted to keep abounding around Wuthering Heights to keep its grandeur alive.

         In A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879 and filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, respectively, perhaps it was a good thing that Nora's tangled web about the loan comes tumbling down. This makes her realize that she is not truly happy with Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins), and living a lie causes her so much grief when she knows it is about to be revealed. It is just easier for her to admit her lies--to admit she is not happy and does not love her life.

         Who is to know if the same would have been true in the case of Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) in Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, A Streetcar Named Desire, filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan. Blanche lives and tells so many lies that they overwhelm her and take over her life. The woman proceeds to go nuts trying to fabricate, then adhere to, her lies. Her sister, Stella, never knew what Blanche had done once Stella had left to marry Stanley (Marlon Brando). She could have never foreseen the terrible life Blanche would make for herself.

         A tangled web of lies does nothing but close the mind and darken the soul of the characters. They believe they are happier if they continue the stories and lies, but really they are happiest when it all comes crashing down.

Megan Arszman

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