Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

For this weeks blog I'll start out by responding to comments made on mine from last week. Wuthering Heights would be a very different story, with a very different mood if it was being told by Heathcliff, instead of Nelly. If Heathcliff was telling the story, I would think it would be a much more bitter tale rather than a love story. We would only get to see his point-of-view and how he felt about things. With Nelly, she knew both of the people involved in the relationship and she talked to both of them so she has a better, non bias look on what happened. If Heathcliff had been telling the story, we may have looked at Catherine as a cold hearted woman who was horrible to Heathcliff once she returned from the Grange. Instead Nelly tells Lockwood that Catherine really loved Heathcliff but the Linton's had money and had been very kind to her while she was recovering. Lockwood and Nelly are important parts to this novel. To me they represent two different periods of time, Lockwood being the present, and Nelly being the past. Lockwood comes into this world and meets Heathcliff who is rude, and doesn't seem to care about anyone but himself, and without Nelly, this would be our only impression of him. But then Nelly takes us through their past and we, the reader, begins to understand how Heathcliff became the person that he is in the present.

This week, as suggested, I watched one of the film adaptations of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The version I watched is the most recent one I believe, Peter Kosminsky's Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, made in 1992 starring Ralph Fiennes (most of us know him as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter) as Heathcliff, and Juliette Binoche as Catherine. This film adaptation was different than the novel. For starters, Nelly and Lockwood were in the movie but they weren't narrating the story. Lockwood was only seen or mentioned in the very beginning of the film and the very end. The narrator of the film is Emily Bronte herself. She comes across Wuthering Heights and three graves and decides to write a story about it. In the beginning, its as if she is writing the novel as we see it unfold in front of us. She will say what the characters say before they say them. Actually seeing the characters and how they acted made me feel differently for them. When I read the novel, I disliked Catherine and the way she treated Heathcliff like she was better than him. I also felt sympathetic towards Heathcliff because I knew his heart had been broken and that is why he was acting the way that he did. But watching the film I felt differently, the opposite actually. I disliked Heathcliff because he seemed really evil and ruthless and horrible towards everyone. Catherine was dainty and seemed weak to me. I felt bad watching how Heathcliff treated her and everyone else. It was strange to me how differently I felt between reading the novel and watching one of the film adaptations.


  1. I also really enjoyed the way that 'Wuthering Heights' brought together the past and the present in order to tell the story. Sometimes with characters who seem really unlikeable or bad, there is little to no believable reasoning behind their malicious nature. In 'Wuthering Heights', we read Heathcliff's entire history, and learned every detail about the things that shaped him into the person he became.

    On a different topic, though, I thought that your comments on the film adaptation of 'Wuthering Heights' to be really interesting. I'm always on the fence about reading film's that are adaptations of books that I've read. Sometimes, the movies just don't cut it. Either they just don't have the time to fit everything in or they just miss the mark entirely.

    But on the other hand, I think that watching film adaptations of certain books can be really helpful (especially in old books). I find that trying to read older books/stories can be really difficult because of how much our language has changed since then, so watching more condensed version of them being acted out really helps me get a better idea of what I am supposed to be thinking and feeling throughout the story (if that makes sense). I think that watching a film adaptation of WH would have helped me get a better grasp on its story and characters, as well.

  2. Hearing you talk about the movie makes me want to watch it now. I agree that when reading the book I felt like Catherine was very unsympathetic, and Heathcliff a bit more so, but still not all that much. It would be interesting to see if the movie made me feel any differently towards the characters. I think the visual and vocal aspects of movie generally lend themselves to being more sympathetic than books because you can see the facial expressions, and have a more concrete perception of how the characters are saying something (i.e snippy, sarcastic) when it might not be said.

    It sounds neat that the narrator is Bronte instead of Lockwood or Nelly, the different narration I'm sure helps with the different perception of the characters.

  3. Sara, after reading your post I set about trying to decide what the book would actually be like if Heathcliff was the main narrator instead of Nelly. I have come to the conclusion that while parts would be “bitter” and it would certainly be a more self-centered view on the happenings of Wuthering Heights, to me I feel it would actually come across much more sympathetic. What I mean is that Heathcliff’s story would probably elicit us as the readers with much more sympathy for his tragic upbringing and the harshness that created the monster we get to know throughout the book. Wouldn’t it be great, if in Heathcliff’s words, we could get the story of where he disappeared to as a young man and perhaps his origins as a “dirty, ragged, black-haired child”? Almost certainly if he were telling the story we would he be given a much changed impression of his diabolical schemes if they were being communicated by the schemer. It would be a fascinating read for sure!

    I really should try to see one of the adaptations of this book. It seems to be very curious how the different director decided to adapt this book into a movie. In the case of your choice, it is intriguing to wonder how the director or director decided to make the choices they made regarding the story. Having Bronte as the narrator looks to be an odd choice. I don’t know it seems to me that film is such a difficult medium to create a character within, because as you are watching the movie you see a vivid image on the screen of what otherwise, in a book, would be only in your imagination. Reading a novel, your imagination is left to run wild creating its own imagery. But in viewing a film, you are only left to the imagination of the director.

    Great work on the post!

  4. I like Andrew's suggestion to consider the novel from Heathcliff's point of view. Perhaps this is something to consider for a creative project at the end of the semester. What is Heathcliff's history? What happened to him when he left WH? What were his true motivations? These are questions that could fuel a great short story.