Wuthering Heights was one of my Mom’s favorite books, but I was never able to get into it. I recently watched the PBS Masterpiece version and still find the story a bit baffling. I will have to sit down and read Wuthering Heights one of these days.
I read Moby Dick and found it to be an amazing book, one that I firmly believe can never be done justice by film, as it was never meant to be a motion picture. I tend to think that maybe Wuthering Heights has the same problem, it’s a story that can’t properly be brought to the screen.
This has not kept people from trying.
Emily Bronte had a great imagination. The dark and gloomy moors and the dark and gloomy castles where the living and the dead wander in misery make Wuthering Heights an interesting story. The idea that being in love is a fate worse than death and that the bounds of death are not enough to end such a love as Heathcliff and Catherine share.
In the PBS Masterpiece version of Wuthering Heights Heathcliff is a pure villain with no redeeming qualities at all. Maybe he is a mad villain in the book as well, after all, Rhett Butler was not exactly a hero in Gone With The Wind-but he was not a raving lunatic either. When we first meet Heathcliff he is a deranged old man who defiles a grave so that he may once more embrace his one true love.
Nothing good ever happens, just about everyone we met dies, and Heathcliff is a nasty bit of work throughout. A classic escapist novel where you can read about these tortured lives and tell yourself, well, my life could be worse, couldn’t it?
It seems that in Wuthering Heights the novel, Heathcliff and Cathy were really nasty people, and the story was no where near as happy as the one on PBS. My own favorite books are not exactly happy stories either, I don’t require a happy ending, but I do like to have some kind of ending. The PBS version of Wuthering Heights has our surviving characters pack up their belongings and leave the manor, while the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine look on. Did they sell the house? Did the taxman take it? Did Heathcliff will it to his ghost?
It’s a story full of unanswered questions, starting with who is Heathcliff anyway and why did Dear Father bring the gypsy home with him? How did Heathcliff make his fortune? Why doesn’t Heathcliff stop Cathy from getting married? And so on and so forth.
I’m sure my Mom could have answered these questions and maybe a careful reading of Wuthering Heights would make all such questions unimportant anyway. That whole story within a story thing must have been shocking when Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights, and it was not universally hailed as a great book when it was first published.
You can watch the PBS version of Wuthering Heights online. The costumes and the actors are all very good looking, even if the story is a bit odd.