Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Character of the Week: Heathcliff

This week's character of the week is from my favorite love story, Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff was brought to the Earnshaw household when he was a young boy by the father of the house. While he didn't get along with Hindley, the son, he got along marvelously with Cathy the daughter. Eventually he and Cathy fall madly in love. Unfortunately for Heathcliff, Cathy meets Edgar, a rich man who instantly falls for her and asks her to marry him. Although she loves Heathcliff, she agrees because she wishes to have wealth. This makes Heathcliff very jealous and angry and seeks revenge on Cathy and Edgar by going away and making his fortune, and then marrying Edgar's sister. He gets further revenge on Edgar by forcing Edgar and Cathy's daughter to marry his son. He is not your typical romantic hero. His only soft moments are with Cathy, but as soon as she starts to see Edgar, his true nature really starts to show. For the majority of the book you see only hate and vengeance and spite. But still...you can't help but love him. My favorite portrayal of Heathcliff was by Laurence Olivier in the 1939 film version.

The first time I saw this film I started crying during the part where Heathcliff overhears Cathy talking to Ellen about Edgar and how it would degrade her to marry him. It is just so heartbreaking! I believe that the scene starts at around 2:12 in the video below. Merle Oberon is also my favorite actress to ever play Cathy because she really shows how much of a bitch Cathy really was.

Tom Hardy also does a great job playing Heathcliff in the 2009 Masterpiece Theater version. Hardy really does a great job of showing how much of a grumpy bastard Heathcliff was. This is the only film version that I actually own. I desperately want the 1939 version, but there aren't any Region 1 DVDs!!! The only ones I can find are imported from Korea, but even though it says that it will play in Region 1 DVD players, I don't trust foreign DVDs...

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