Wuthering Heights


For this year’s A to Z Blog challenge, I thought I’d draw back the curtain and explore the life and times of a bibliophile.  Care to join me?

I’ve mentioned my fondness for period films, and the books that inspired them.  Well, I’ve not seen a film version of Wuthering Heights that I particularly like, and, thanks to an English Lit professor I had, I probably never will.  More on that later.

I have to be honest here.  Although I love Emily Brontë’s writing, with all its brooding atmosphere, and distinctive characters, I am not a fan of Wuthering Heights.  I tried to like it, I really did, but I found Catherine to be annoying as hell.  And Heathcliff?  Well, I just thought he was a sadistic jerk.

Easily impressed by the trappings of nobility and privilege, Catherine foreswears Heathcliff because of his social status and rather course manner.  He runs off, she gets in a tizzy, she gets married, he comes back and seduces Catherine’s sister-in-law to get revenge. . . .Oh, dear GOD talk about a soap opera.

Wuthering Heights has the distinction of being a book I love for its language, and loathe because of its plot.  I like Emily Brontë’s use of parallel story lines across generations.  I like the way she sets the scene, the atmosphere, the sense of despair and isolation.  I even like how effectively she uses cruelty in the story.  I just wish she had told a different story.

So back to my English Lit professor.  Our prof was a little bit of an odd duck, and insisted that Wuthering Heights was actually quite funny.  As proof, he highlighted the rather bland cruelty Lockwood demonstrates in flirting with a young woman at the beginning of the story.  As soon as she shows interest, Lockwood returns her interest with disdain.  The prof found this particularly amusing, and lamented that none of the film versions got it right.  Of course someone had to ask him who he thought could make a film of Wuthering Heights he would find acceptable.  Without missing a beat, the prof replied, “Monty Python.”

Now THAT’S a film I’d be willing to see.