Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wuthering Heights vs Jane Eyre

Jess and I are good friends, but there is a serious conflict between us. Jess not only loves Wuthering Heights, but considers it superior to Jane Eyre! Really and truly! I have read Wuthering Heights twice. The first time I was very disappointed, expecting a sweet love story I was not impressed by the selfish, destructive love of Heathcliff and Catherine. I read it again a few years later, hoping I had just misunderstood the first time, but no, Heathcliff and Catherine are thoroughly unlikeable!

I asked our book club which they preferred and they all said Jane Eyre. Jess and I often ask people we come across and ninety percent are on my side! We had Jane Eyre in our book club earlier this year, and I told Jess that when the new Wuthering Heights came to the cinema, we'd go and see it. She really enjoyed Jane Eyre this time around, though she had some criticisms of Mr Rochester (as do we all, he is a very flawed character!), and she watched, and loved, all four hours of the 2006 BBC version.

I'm not sure whether Wuthering Heights came to our cinema, but the DVD turned up at work the other day so I nabbed it to watch with Jeannie and Jess. Andrew declined the offer and took Joss to the movies to see something Jack and the Beanstalkish.

Wow. Have you seen it? This latest film version captures the feel of Wuthering Heights beautifully. It's wet, muddy, dark and relentlessly bleak. There is no music, no melodrama, just raw, haunting characters (see what I did there!)  coldly destroying each other. The film does a good job of portraying their love as animalistic, there are lots of shots of moths, birds, sheep and dogs. We had to look away several times because of animal cruelty. I didn't dislike it, but the beautiful cinematography and interesting interpretation, though fascinating, was not exactly entertaining.

 It was an interesting move to cast black actors as Heathcliff, who was a dark skinned Gypsy in the book. I also wasn't expecting the N, F or C words!

Catherine and Heathcliff are awful people, destroying themselves and nearly everyone around them. How can they possibly compare to Jane and Mr Rochester? When Catherine dies, Heathcliff says this:

'May she wake in torment!' he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. 'Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not THERE - not in heaven - not perished - where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer - I repeat it till my tongue stiffens - Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you - haunt me, then! The murdered DO haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts HAVE wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! only DO not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I CANNOT live without my life! I CANNOT live without my soul!'
It's passion alright, but selfish and horrible! So unlike this from Mr Rochester:

Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat - your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me.

I rest my case.


  1. Wuthering Heights sounds infinitely more interesting to me.

    Who wants unrealistic romance?

  2. Hmmm, I think it's great to be able to read both! Both are helpful in understanding human nature. At least we know which we prefer, so don't go looking for the dramatic and destructive if that's not what we want....

  3. I agree completely Amy. I've never like Wuthering Heights either... but I thought it was just me!

    And a question for your brother: What is wrong with unrealistic romance?