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Wuthering Heights

From Academic Kids

Wuthering Heights is Emily Bront's only novel. Published in 1847, under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, it has become a classic of English literature, and has given rise to many adaptations, including several films, radio and television dramatisations, and a musical, as well as inspiring a hit song by Kate Bush. A posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte.

The setting for the book is Bront's native Yorkshire moors. It takes the form of the first-person narrative of a minor character, Lockwood, who through conversations is told the tale of the principal protagonists. This framing device gives distance to the events. Nelly Dean, the secondary narrator, recounts scenes of strong emotion, violence, infanticide and sadism in a manner which is not completely dispassionate, but somewhat detached; she is not surprised at the extremes she recounts.

Wuthering Heights 's innovative structure, which has been likened to a series of Chinese boxes, puzzled critics when the novel first appeared, and reception was lukewarm at best. Some contemporaneous critics even believed it to be an earlier, less mature work from Charlotte Bront, who had also published Jane Eyre that same year under a pseudonym. Subsequent critics revised this view; most would agree that Wuthering Heights's originality and achievement exceeded anything that her sisters Charlotte and Anne had ever attempted.

The anti-hero is the foundling Heathcliff, who is taken in by the wealthy Earnshaw family as a child, and falls in love with their daughter, Catherine. Catherine is also attached to Heathcliff, but he is not considered good enough to marry her. Instead, Cathy marries a wealthy neighbour, Edgar Linton, and the embittered Heathcliff sets out to ruin the fortunes of her family, which he does over a period of many years. Heathcliff is likened to the devil by many critics.He is dark and has a foreboding appearance. His love for Catherine is all-encompassing. He ruins her life and that of her son's in order to avenge her betrayal.Their love is more of the animal kind: raw, shameless and violent.Even in death he manages to scare people.His eyes can look right into your soul.Perhaps his personality and character has been moulded in such a ruthless manner because his origins were unknown....he was regarded as a gypsy child. He entered the Earnshaw family on a dark, windy, rainy night.......is it the first hint at the gloom and darkness he is supposed to bring into the family? Heathcliff is an enigma in himself.He is the reason readers return to "Wuthering Heights"...he is Gothica personified.

Contents

In Other Literature

In Albert Camus' essay The Rebel, Heathcliff is compared to a rebel leader. Both are driven by a sort of madness: one by misguided love, the other by oppression. Camus juxtaposes the concept of Heathcliff's reaction to Cathy with the reaction of a disenchanted rebel to the ideal he once held.

Film & Television Adaptations

Perhaps the best-known of the film adaptations was released in 1939. It stars Merle Oberon as Cathy Linton, Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff, David Niven as Edgar Linton, Flora Robson as Ellen Dean, Donald Crisp as Dr. Kenneth, Geraldine Fitzgerald as Isabella Linton and Leo G. Carroll as Joseph Earnshaw. The film was adapted by Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht and John Huston. It was directed by William Wyler. The movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

A 1992 film adaptation was the first one to show both generations from the story; that is Heathcliff, Cathy, Edgar, and Hindley, as well as their children. Juliette Binoche plays two roles, Catherine Earnshaw and her daughter. Ralph Fiennes plays Heathcliff.

A 1953 adaptation on BBC Television was scripted by Nigel Kneale, directed by Rudolph Cartier and starred Yvonne Mitchell as Cathy. Sadly, this version does not survive in the BBC archives.

Role-Playing Game Adaptation

The Wuthering Heights Roleplay game is a role-playing game based on the French "Ren le Jeu de Rle Romantique" by Philippe Tromeur. It is a parody of the original story, free for download here: http://philippe.tromeur.free.fr/rene.htm

In Music

Wuthering Heights is also the title of a song by Kate Bush. It appears on her 1978 debut album, The Kick Inside, and was also released as her debut single. It quickly reached number one in the UK pop charts, and propelled the singer to widespread fame. Its lyrics are based on the story of the novel. Kate Bush was inspired to write the song after watching the 1939 version of the film and the fact that she shares the same birthday as Emily Bront: July 30. The song was later covered by Pat Benatar.

Carlisle Floyd wrote an opera based on this novel in 1958.

Wuthering Heights is also the name of a Danish Heavy Metal band. (see Wuthering Heights (band)).

The second 1976 album of Genesis, Wind & Wuthering was also largely inspired by the novel.

External links

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