Banned Books Week - September 24 - 30

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character--Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)

FFC is a weekly event founded by my good friend Ryan of Wordsmithonia.

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  One of the original brooding romantic heroes,  Heathcliff is a tragic character.  Abandoned as a child and taken in by the Earnshaw family, he grows up abused and mistreated after the death of his foster father.  However, he loves dearly his foster sister Catherine and she in turn loves him.  But, as tempestuous love affairs often go, their love is doomed.  Catherine is enticed by material things and, despite her love for Heathcliff, marries the wealthy Mr. Linton.  Heathcliff, always a character prone to anger and violence due to his mean life and upbringing, becomes a bitter and haunted man.  He so loved his Cathy that her betrayal smashes to pieces an already broken man.  In this passage from Wuthering Heights, his utter despair is so evidenced:

You teach me now how cruel you've been — cruel and false!! Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears: they'll blight you — they'll damn you. You loved me — then what right had you to leave me? What right — answer me — for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart — you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.  So much the worse for me, that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you——oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?

Some of my favorite film portrayals of Heathcliff have been Sir Laurence Olivier in an OSCAR nominated role and Ralph Fiennes in the 1992 version.  I actually think that so far the Fiennes portrayal has been my favorite.  He really captured the tortured quality of Heathcliff.  There is a new film version coming out this year with Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl) as Heathcliff and Gemma Arterton as Cathy.  And somehow, I managed to miss the 2009 Masterpiece Theatre two part series version starring Tom Hardy.  I will be heading over to Blockbuster online to correct this forthwith!

Another bit of trivia...my favorite actor, Heath Ledger (may he rest in peace), was named for Heathcliff. *sob*

16 comments:

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  1. I'm sure it won't come as a surprise that I've never read the book or seen any of the movies. I will say that he does seem like an interesting character and one that would be fun for an actor to play. Great choice this week.

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  2. I LOVE Wuthering Heights but I strongly dislike Heathcliff.

    Heath was named for Heathcliff?
    Wow. I never knew!

    I have a gorgeous vintage copy of WH that features that top image you have: http://www.talesofwhimsy.com/2009/12/vintage-score.html

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  3. I agree that Heathcliff is the ultimate brooding, mysterious romantic lead. But she does not marry Linton for material gains but rather because she knows that she and Heathcliff may love each other but it is an unhealthy love that would not survive a marriage. I think the words are along the lines of the fact that she is Heathcliff and he is she. They are the same person, and that is why she cannot marry him. It is a fabulous love story that makes me sigh each and every time I read it!

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  4. I LOVE Wuthering Heights! But I've never seen a movie version! I may have to watch the Ralph Fiennes version. Love him.

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  5. This is one of the best classics, and I hat to admit it but... I have never read it. I have heard amazing things of this great book.

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  6. I've never seen the Ralph Fiennes' version of Wuthering Heights but I'm definitely going to have to check it out. Love him!

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  7. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and commenting!

    Let me clarify in regards to my statement about Cathy being material. It has been many years since I read the book so I'm having a hard time recalling Cathy in the book. However, it seems like most of the film versions always depict Cathy as frivolous and material. So that's what I was drawing on. Also, I am so fiercely loyal to Heathcliff (I know he's not exactly ideal, but I can't help it) that I'm afraid it puts Cathy in a bad light in my eyes.

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  8. I've had this book on my bookshelf for so long!! I really need to read it-great post!!

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  9. I read this book only a few years ago. Had I read it when I was younger, I would have found Heathcliff very romantic. Instead, I just thought he needed his ass kicked and to grow up. Oh, how time changes what we see!

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  10. I have an award for you here:

    http://laurelrainsnowswonderland.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/an-award/

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  11. Talk about a dysfunctional relationship. Cathy and Heathcliff were so tortured for and by each other. But still, Heathcliff has undeniable allure, despite his cruelty.

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  12. I never got into the love of Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights. The man annoyed me. However - oddly, I liked the book.

    And I totally agree with you on Heath Ledger who I loved as an actor and he is truly missed. (I had no idea he was named for Heathcliff so that was interesting too!)

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  13. I like Wuthering Heights also - but I think of Heathcliff more of a villian than as a hero. The movie versions really make Heathcliff much more romantic than he is in the novel!

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  14. Ohhh, Heathcliffe. *sigh!*

    You forgot to include the latest BBC remake of Wuthering Heights with the fabulous Tom Hardy as Heathcliffe. YUM.

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  15. I've never read Wuthering Heights, but I plan to read it for the All About the Brontes Challenge this year!

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  16. Thank you for all the great comments! It seems we have some differing opinions of Heathcliff...some good, some bad. All pretty much agree that Wuthering Heights is a great book (out of those who have read it).

    J.T.--I'll be looking forward to hearing your take on Heathcliff...love him or hate him?

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