Wuthering Heights: The Differences of Film and Literature

        The novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontëís 1847 classic, and William Wylerís 1939 sliver screen adaptation of Wuthering Heights truly define the difference of the film and literature. One who reads the novel and then watches the film gets two unique dispositions about the story and characters involved.

        BrontŽís novel is written as most prose was written in the nineteenth century: description ad nauseum. Not a whole lot is left to the imagination of the reader, which is a style of prose that is more prevalent today. The characters of Wuthering Heights are similar to those in Greek heroic plays: lofty and out of touch with the reader, almost to the point of unattainable. This is due in part to the cultural and social changes from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. However, the story itself is one that can be related to very well, even in the present.

        William Wyler brings Wuthering Heights (at least part of the novel) to life in an amazing way. The film brings the characters off of their pedestals in the metaphorical pantheon and brings them down to the level of the viewer. Heathcliff, played in the film by Rex Downing and Lawrence Olivier, was the only character that was difficult to believe. This is mainly due to Lawrence Olivierís past experience as a wonderful stage actor of Greek and Shakespearean plays. His boisterous physical actions and dramatic delivery seem over-the-top at some points of the film. The rest of the cast is well balanced and represent Brontëís characterizations well. The story, while only considering barely half of the novel, was done just as well as Brontë had written it

.         It seems that most modern day people enjoy the film Wuthering Heights more than the novel. This is not due to the fact that Wuthering Heights was written poorly. The above outcome stems from the differences in prose in the modern day and prose from the days of old. Both the film and the novel are classics in their own idioms. Watching the film and reading the novel give two different dispositions, but doing both is definitely worth the time and effort.

Joseph Chad Bowlin