Twisted Romance

         Emily BrontŽís 1847 novel Wuthering Heights is famous for its twisted romance, and complicated love triangle between two families. However, in the 1939 film of Wuthering Heights, directed by William Wyler, not only are the characters altered to make their roles more romanticized, but also the 1938 screenplay, by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and film leave out certain roles to put emphasis on the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine.

         Heathcliff and Catherine are the two main characters that prompt argument throughout the novel, the screenplay, and the movie. Their love affair affects every individual in the Earnshaw and Linton families. However, their relationship is viewed as more hostile, than it is loving, in both the novel, and the interpretation of the film. However, in the film, even though Heathcliff and Catherine appear harsh, as played by Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, the way they reunite is quite different than the way they do in the novel. At the end of the novel, both Catherine and Heathcliff have died unfortunate deaths; Catherine dies after giving birth to her daughter, Catherine; and Heathcliff, whose own sickly son, Linton, has died, wills his own death several years later, hoping to rejoin Catherine in some sort of afterlife, although Brontë does not go any further than this. However, despite the objections of Wyler, the director of the film, the producer, Samuel Goldwyn, insisted that the ending of the film be a happy love story; which give the audience a reassured feeling when they watch the end of the film. The childless Heathcliff runs out into the storm after Lockwood tells him about Catherineís ghost visiting him and die. Goldwyn hired a couple of doubles to portray their ghosts walking away together into the moors; which is where they spend eternity by each otherís side.

         With Heathcliff and Catherine being happy together, and not having anyone to interrupt their love, gives a bigger sense of comfort to the audience than having the lovers just dying and not overtly fulfilling their need for each other. The novel is a more tragic romance, and while people do love the novel, they can rest easier with the love story the film has to portray.

Sara Bailey