The 2011 film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, starring Kaya Scodelario as Catherine and both Solomon Glave and James Howson as Heathcliff, has finally made it to Australian cinemas. In some respects, this is a difficult novel to adapt to screen, and certainly it only succeeds by dropping the overtly literary device of the framing multi-layered narration of Nelly and Lockwood, the latter not even appearing as a character in the film.
This passage from Wuthering Heights marks the beginning of the end of the novel. It provides a deep insight into Heathcliff’s mental state and his motivations thus far, and also represents a turning point in the narrative which leads the novel to its conclusion. Edgar has passed away, and Heathcliff is at Thrushcross Grange to take Catherine to her new home. The opening of the passage, in which Catherine speaks “with a kind of dreary triumph” and decides to “draw pleasure from the griefs of her enemies”, immediately brings to mind the bitter and revengeful way in which Heathcliff has been acting up to this point. However, the remainder of the passage brings a startling and ghoulish admission from Heathcliff of interfering with Cathy’s grave and being haunted by her. It is unclear whether this is a physical haunting by Cathy’s ghost or symbolic psychological manifestation of the anguish he has suffered. In either case, Heathcliff’s revelations bring the reader to a closer understanding of his motivations and show just how deeply his obsession for Cathy runs.