Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

1072 Words5 Pages
Throughout the history of literature, there have always been many tragic lovers: Daisy and Jay from The Great Gatsby and Hamlet and Ophelia from Hamlet are only two examples. However, they may be no other couple as tragic as Heathcliff and Catherine of Wuthering Heights. The two lovers' souls are one and the same, yet they were born worlds apart. Heathcliff, a servant at Wuthering Heights, can never have Catherine, his mistress. The hopelessness of his situation drives Heathcliff from anger and frustration, to tyranny, and finally to madness. The 1939 release of the film version of Wuthering Heights demonstrates this theme exceptionally. The mise-en-scène of the 1939 release of Wuthering Heights demonstrates the theme of the novel, the unfairness of the social caste system, even better than the novel does.
The first scene in the movie that demonstrates the difference between the world Cathy wants and the world she has with Heathcliff is when the two go to spy on Thrushcross Grange, home of the Linton family. The two peer into the window of the manor while their neighbours are enjoying a ball. Catherine sighs and asks Heathcliff, "Isn't it wonderful? ...That's the kind of dress I'll wear. And you'll wear a red velvet coat with silver buckles on your shoes. Oh, Heathcliff, will we? Will we ever?" (Wuthering Heights).

Heathcliff and Catherine spy on the Linton's ball.
Heathcliff only remains silent in response; he knows he cannot grant her wish with what he has now. This scene shows how powerless Heathcliff at that moment: he wants nothing more than for Catherine to be happy, yet he knows he cannot give her that happiness. What Catherine wants is the life of a gentlewoman, like the ladies dancing at the Lintons' ball. Being a ...

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...rld as the Lintons.
While both the movie and the novel demonstrate the theme of the injustice of the social caste system, the movie uses mise-en-scène to portray the theme very forcibly and clearly. In each scene, Heathcliff always falls short of being able to grant Catherine’s wishes, a feat that Linton accomplishes easily. She is from a different social class; she is so far from him, she may as well be in a different world. They both have the same fiery, passionate soul, but fate has torn them away from each other. No matter how hard Heathcliff struggles, he can neither attain his happiness, nor grant Catherine hers. It is the unfairness of the social caste system that make these two characters such tragic lovers.

Works Cited
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. London: Bantam Books, 1981. Print.
Wuthering Heights. Dir. Wyler William. United Artists, 1939. Film.

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