Okay, another news flash: I am not enjoying the daily scent diary post, though it’s been helpful in returning to the habit of writing diary entries every day. Next week, back to daily updating of a Word document to be posted once a week.
Cold today, blowing snow but nothing sticking to the ground. Prompted by Bookworm’s comments as she attempted to read Wuthering Heights recently (it’s one of the few fiction works she’s ever not managed to finish), I watched part of of a 2009 production of this classic piece of literature on Youtube today, a very gorgeous brooding thing starring Tom Hardy as the violently passionate, doomed, damned, damaged Heathcliff. As far as the production goes, it seems to be a decent one, not straying far from the book. There are numerous film settings available, from the 1939 classic with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, to a 1970 production with Timothy Dalton in the Heathcliff role, to a 1998 BBC production featuring my favorite Matthew MacFadyen as Hareton, and others.
Wuthering Heights has never been on my favorites list. It’s convoluted, you get the main narrative piecemeal and secondhand, and some of the speech in it is very difficult for modern Americans to decipher. Also, I’ve always been rather inclined toward wanting to slap every single character in it at varying times, usually for their incredibly stupid decisions. While the use of peripheral characters such as Nelly Dean and Mr. Lockwood to tell the story, which stretches over thirty years, is an interesting device, I think it both removes us from the story and distorts it, because the story is seen from the outside. Neither Catherine nor Heathcliff are particularly reticent people, and I think we have to assume that people who have such low thresholds of inhibition are not in the least interested in writing down their thoughts, feelings, motives – but can Nelly’s narration be trusted? It can’t possibly be complete, and it’s certainly colored by her opinions.
Susan Howatch (ooh, go read some of her stuff, it’s masterful – my favorite might be The Wheel of Fortune, but she’s prolific) has one of her characters in Sins of the Fathers describe Wuthering Heights as “brutal,” and wonder how it ever gained a reputation as being romantic, and she’s right. Reading WH, I always think of Friar Lawrence’s caution to Romeo:
These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, and, as they kiss, consume.
It’s a cautionary tale. It’s a portrait of ungovernable passions – hate and revenge as well as mad love. It is not, to modern readers, a romance. You go looking for a Hollywood ending, or even a Pride and Prejudice one, and you are going to be saaaadly disappointed. Heathcliff is an anti-hero, someone as trapped in his unhappy past as it is possible to be. Does he put aside his feelings of unworthiness, his pride, his plans for revenge? No. He chooses to pursue them into destruction, not only of himself, but of those who eventually fall into his sphere of influence. It’s hard to forgive him for that, for all the ill treatment he suffered as a child. And Cathy is no better – she’s willful, shallow, selfish, petty, and spiteful as well as wild and free-spirited and charming.
Yes, they love each other, but this love is not patient, is not kind, does not rejoice in truth. It is envious, proud, self-seeking, and keeps detailed record of wrongs. Not one description of love found in the famous “love chapter” of the Bible is applicable to the love between Catherine and Heathcliff. But still, who can fail to be moved by Heathcliff’s heart-cry at Catherine’s death, “Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”?
Up until now, the only time I’d ever seen Tom Hardy in any film was in The Dark Knight Rises as the villain Bane, who boasts some fierce muscles and speaks through a strange mouthpiece. And let me just say this for his acting: HOLY. MOLY. Very powerful. Also, and I had NO IDEA, he’s gorgeous. Really. I mean, look:So, I expect that regular readers would like to know how my afternoon was scented… Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour femme, one of the darkest roses I know, a “bodice-ripper rose” if there ever was such a thing. Appropriate, don’t you think?