↳ Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”
Wuthering Heights is a strange, inartistic story. There are evidences in every chapter of a sort of rugged power—an unconscious strength—which the possessor seems never to think of turning to the best advantage. The general effect is inexpressibly painful. We know nothing in the whole range of our fictitious literature which presents such shocking pictures of the worst forms of humanity. Jane Eyre is a book which affects the reader to tears; it touches the most hidden sources of emotion. Wuthering Heights casts a gloom over the mind not easily to be dispelled. It does not soften; it harasses, it extenterates.
[…] A more natural story we do not remember to have read. Inconceivable as are the combinations of human degradation which are here to be found moving within the circle of a few miles, the vraisemblance is so admirably preserved; there is so much truth in what we may call the costumery (not applying the word in its narrow acceptation)—the general mounting of the entire piece—that we readily identify the scenes and personages of the fiction; and when we lay aside the book it is some time before we can persuade ourselves that we have held nothing more than imaginary intercourse with the ideal creations of the brain. The reality of unreality has never been so aptly illustrated as in the scenes of almost savage life which Ellis Bell has brought so vividly before us.
The book sadly wants relief. A few glimpses of sunshine would have increased the reality of the picture and given strength rather than weakness to the whole. There is not in the entire dramatis persona, a single character which is not utterly hateful or thoroughly contemptible. If you do not detest the person, you despise him; and if you do not despise him, you detest him with your whole heart.
[…] The author seems to have designed to throw some redeeming touches into the character of the brutal Heathcliff, by portraying him as one faithful to the idol of his boyhood—loving to the very last—long, long after death had divided them, the unhappy girl who had cheered and brightened up the early days of his wretched life. Here is the touch of nature which makes the whole world kin—but it fails of the intended effect. There is a selfishness—a ferocity in the love of Heathcliff, which scarcely suffer it, in spite of its rugged constancy, to relieve the darker parts of his nature. Even the female characters excite something of loathing and much of contempt. Beautiful and loveable in their childhood, they all, to use a vulgar expression, ‘turn out badly’. Catherine the elder—wayward, impatient, impulsive—sacrifices herself and her lover to the pitiful ambition of becoming the wife of a gentleman of station. Hence her own misery—her early death—and something of the brutal wickedness of Heathcliff’s character and conduct; though we cannot persuade ourselves that even a happy love would have tamed down the natural ferocity of the tiger. Catherine the younger is more sinned against than sinning, and in spite of her grave moral defects, we have some hope of her at the last."
Mr Ellis Bell, before constructing the novel, should have known that forced marriages, under threats and in confinement are illegal, and parties instrumental thereto can be punished. And second, that wills made by young ladies’ minors are invalid.
The volumes are powerfully written records of wickedness and they have a moral – they show what Satan could do with the law of Entail."
1. I never wrote a full-length review of Andrea Arnold’s adaptation (just the post you mentioned), but I can give you my main reasons for liking it:
- It’s the first (and only) adaptation that cast a POC for the part of Heathcliff.
- I would have cast Kaya Scodelario as Catherine too.
- The love story between her and Heathcliff is not romanticised but shown for the destructive clash of forces that it is.
- I love that it doesn’t have a soundtrack until the very end, especially since the movie has so little dialogue. Often all you hear is the sound of the wind and the rain.
- I am obsessed with the Mumford & Sons song that plays over the credits.
- I love how you can almost smell the grass and feel the mud on your fingers when you watch it. It’s a combination of the sound design and the visuals, very effective.
- With the billion other adaptations out there in the world, this one actually did something different. Instead of making just another costume drama, Arnold created a visceral experience, focusing on the harsh environment and primal emotions.