I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve not read this before now. The story is so universally known and loved I think I’d fooled myself into believing I had actually read the book! To rectify this, I made it my next choice in preparation for my reading list for my OU course. I watched three different film variations as well as reading the book on my kindle. All in the name of research obviously 🙂
Watching the Laurence Olivier 1939 classic first was a bit of a mistake. This is probably the most famous of all the versions but only actually covers one element of the story – that of the eternal romance of Heathcliffe & Cathy. It took all the films and book for me to realise just WHY Cathy would marry Edgar Linton because to me this version didn’t make it clear. In this version she came across as a spoilt brat willing to trample on someone’s feelings just to live the high life. They also seemed to shout an awful lot because as you know shouting equals passion! I did enjoy it though
Moving on I watched a more modern version from 2011. This was horrendous! The film makers couldn’t seem to make up their minds which era they were in and they seemed to believe in this case passion is not about the shouting but the swearing! The desolate moors were replaced by muddy fields, the jealousy of Edgar was depicted with lots of violence and the whole thing was just unwatchable. I turned it off after managing to get halfway through and went onto the book.
I was very surprised then to find that (spoiler alert 🙂 ) Cathy dies at only 40% of the way through the book. What on earth were they going to talk about for another 60%??? The next generation it seems. I loved this book. I finally began to understand Cathy’s desire to be taken care of in the manner she believed to be right battling her love for Heathcliffe. And I could see that she really only married Linton after her desertion by Heathcliffe. Possibly the biggest mistake ever made by someone only getting half the gossip. If only he’d hung around a bit longer! Well, then it would’ve been a different story I suppose.
The character I actually felt for the most was not of the main two but rather Hareton Linton – a young child unwanted by his father, used by Heathcliffe as an act of revenge and, initially, rebuffed by the object of his desire – Cathy Junior for being illiterate and uncouth, the side effect of his upbringing at the Heights. I was so pleased to see him get his happy ending.
Reading the story from a modern perspective, I do think half the characters are bonkers. I do wonder if Cathy today may have been bipolar reading about her mood swings and her passionate ups and desolate downs? And Heathcliffe a sociopath. It must take a huge force of will to drag revenge out for 20 years and never allowing yourself to be happy.
Finally this weekend I watched the ITV adaption with Tom Hardy. Starting half way through before flashing to the beginning and onwards, this tried to be as faithful as you can be in 3 hours. I actually think they could have added another hour on to really flesh out the younger generation’s story but that’s just a quibble. Tom Hardy seemed to think most Yorkshire folk (of which I am one) speak like Gollum with his strange voice and accent but other than that I think he managed to convey the love story and his haunting by Cathy very well. And in this one Cathy was far more sensible and less hysterical than I had ever seen her which I think made me enjoy it more. This is the adaption that made the most sense to me and I’d heartily recommend it.
All in all a story that has transcended 200 years and shows no sign of getting old. The universal theme of unrequited love is one that many people have suffered from and will continue ton do so although it’s so sad that everyone had to die for the hero to finally get his girl.