I have always said that “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte is one of my favorite books. I’ve seen three movie versions, and I fell in love with two songs about it – the Kate Bush original by the same name and the Pat Benatar cover. So I decided recently that it was time to revisit the story that I read and loved as a teenager.
Part of why I wanted to reread the book was because, after watching the 2009 Masterpiece Classic movie version (which featured the yummy and delicious Tom Hardy as Heathcliff) there were parts of the story that I didn’t recognize. I kept trying to figure out how true this movie was to the book – and I realized the only way to tell would be to go back and read it again. After all, it’s one of my favorites, right?
As I read the first few chapters, I was kind of impressed that I was able to get through this classic as a teenager because I was barely finding the patience to pull through it as an adult. Maybe 19th century English isn’t my thing. Maybe since my time is more limited now—and I don’t have the luxury of reading for hours at a time—I wasn’t able to truly fall into the story like I had in the past. I kept trying to figure out why I wasn’t connecting to the book in the same way I did before.
As I got further and further into the story, and as Heathcliff got nastier and nastier, and as I actually started to dislike him (for real, as if I knew him in real life), I came to the slow realization that…I never read this book. I. Never. Read. This. Book. OMG – I never read this book!
I had to laugh at myself. I definitely remember watching the 1939 movie version while I was in high school. So all these years I was really in love with the story of “Wuthering Heights” that I saw, and not the story that (I thought) I read.
Here’s a quick synopsis for those unfamiliar with the story. Heathcliff was an orphan when Catherine’s father, Mr. Earnshaw, found him and took him in. Heathcliff grows up with Catherine and her brother, Hindley, who can’t stand Heathcliff because Mr. Earnshaw is overly fond of him. Catherine and Heathcliff grow in friendship and in love. But when Catherine develops a crush on a wealthy distant neighbor, Edgar Linton, the stuff hits the fan. Things between Heathcliff and Cathy get tense, and he eventually disappears to seek his fortune so that he could become the type of man that it would be socially acceptable for Catherine to marry. However, he leaves without saying a word. No “I’ll be back. Don’t fall in love with the neighbor,” or anything like that. Bad move. About three years pass, Catherine moves on and marries Edgar, Heathcliff returns, and he is pissed.
He then carries out this elaborate, twisted revenge on almost every character and their children, which includes his own son. By the end of the novel, Catherine dies, Heathcliff dies, and there is basically no happy ending.
But somewhere in all of the craziness lies this passionate love story between Heathcliff and Catherine. This love that started so sweetly in childhood and turned so dark after their own mistakes kept them apart.
Here are clips from the Masterpiece Classic movie along with the “Wuthering Heights” song by Kate Bush.
The movies focus on the love and chemistry that existed between them – and that is what made me a fan. The novel delves more into the selfish, dark and obsessive side of their relationship – especially Heathcliff and his sordid quest for revenge. It made me never want to speak to him again. Oh wait, he’s not real – scratch that last line.
Now I’m going to have to watch the film again and hope it replaces my memory of this depressing novel. I’ll take another dose of the 2009 “Wuthering Heights” with Mr. Tom Hardy, who should seriously consider changing his name to Tom Hottie. Just saying. With a Heathcliff that looks like that, just call me Cathy.
What is your favorite classic novel or movie?
[Artwork credit: Top, by Emanuela at http://www.deviantart.com/art/Where-are-you-Heathcliff-352203785
Text added to image by Liza Blake.]