Emily Brontë concludes her 1847 book, Wuthering Heights, with an appropriate dénouement: Catherine (the daughter) and Hareton are engaged to be married. Was this a good choice? What purpose does it serve, and why was this left out of the film? Finally, was it better that way? I think it was a great choice to end the novel this way. Why? Well, it finally resolves all of the issues in the novel. Throughout the entire novel there is war because people cannot see past status and see true love.
Catherine is not with Heathcliff because he was not rich; Linton loves Catherine, but all she sees is his money; Heathcliff only marries Isabella because he wants revenge against Linton for having money. In the end, the last generation that is living bonds to the two families together by getting rid of the hatred, and ignorance. Catherine loves Hareton for who he is; she does not care that he cannot read. As a matter of fact, she teaches him instead of leaving him as her mother had left Heathcliff.
If the children do all of this, then why is this aspect of the novel left out of the film version, directed by William Wyler in 1939? Of course, not everything can be put in the film; if it was, the movie would be three hours long. Yet, the ending left something to be desired for those who had read the book. In the book, things were resolved.
However, in the motion picture, it only seemed as if things were resolved. Catherine (Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) had rocked everyone's world; they disrupted everything with their love. With their deaths, they left Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald) with a broken heart, Hindley (Hugh Williams) a mad drunk, and Linton (David Niven) a love-sick widow. So the lovers got to be together, what about everyone else?
For those that did not read the book, the ending is great! What could be better than thinking that two lovers who were kept apart in life being together in the after life? Nonetheless, those who read the book might feel that the movie did not do the very complex novel justice; that by leaving out the next generation they were leaving out the part that gave the readers the closure that was needed after a novel of turmoil. So was it better? For me, no, but there may be other opinions.