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Hareton Earnshaw Hero

Topics: Wuthering Heights, Catherine Earnshaw, Hindley Earnshaw, Byronic hero, Isabella Linton / Pages: 5 (1793 words) / Published: Mar 31st, 2015
Hareton Earnshaw is the only male character in Wuthering Heights who can be called a hero. With reference to appropriately selected parts of the novel, and relevant external contextual information on the nature of the hero, give your response to the above view.
A hero in the dictionary is defined as “the chief character in a book, play or film who is typically identified with good qualities and with whom the reader is expected to sympathise”, while this simple definition of a hero may be sufficient we must take into account that there are different types of heroes. J.S. Morin advocates that there are seven types of hero the first being the ‘perfect’ hero who is a paragon of virtue. The second is the ‘misfit’ hero who is unlike anyone else within their story, they are likely a social outcast with a cause for being ostracised such as their race or religion. The third is the ‘grizzled old-timer’ who is more often used in group settings, his vast experience makes him a good vehicle for imparting knowledge to other characters. The fourth is the ‘everyman’ who isn’t always the strongest or smartest character but he is relatable and often faces similar problems and fears to those of the reader. There is no special power nor divine sign that tells this hero that he is destined for greatness. The fifth is the ‘anti-hero’ who makes us question what a hero really is, is one good deed enough to redeem a person? The sixth hero is the ‘prodigy’ who is raw and unformed, the perfect material to build a story around, he needs to learn everything, to experience the wonders of whatever power makes them special and finally there is the ‘un-hero’ who is in all the wrong places at all the wrong times and he does more to hinder the cause of good than to help it. In my opinion Morin leaves out one type of hero who is vital within literature and that is the ‘romantic’ hero who is a character that rejects established norms and conventions, has been rejected by society, and has the self as the center of his or her own existence. These definitions of a hero are essential when analyzing whether Hareton is the only male hero in Wuthering Heights.
Throughout most of the novel Hareton appears as a duplicate of Heathcliff when he was a young man in the next generation of Wuthering Heights’ inhabitants. His black temper isn’t civilised and can be considerably vicious at times which could be pereceived as him not being heroic. His behaviour adheres to Heathcliff’s theory that, “one tree would grow as crooked as another with the same wind to twist it”, just as Heathcliff had planned this is shown through Nelly’s shock when she returns to visit Wuthering Heights to find a very young Hareton swearing and threatening to throw stones at her; a very different child to that which she had raised before being forced to leave. This version of Hareton is exactly what Nelly had feared when she left and her feelings at this transformation are indicators at how badly wronged Harton has been “This grieved more than angered me”. Lockwood’s first impression of Hareton further shows that Hareton is gruff and quick tempered which is shown in the way that Hareton looks like him, “looked down on me from the corner of his eye, for all the world as if there were some mortal feud unavenged between us.” And yet it is Hareton who has the basic civility to bring Lockwood into the house out of the wild weather. His inherent decency and better self appear to have merely been buried beneath the harshness and ignorance that Heathcliff has encouraged to fester. When Nelly next sees him at about the age of eighteen she describes him as “Good things lost amid a wilderness of weeds” meaning that she can see Hareton’s good side even through his apparent ignorance.
Heathcliff more than anyone appears to recognise that Hareton has an inherent goodness he describes him as “gold put to the use of paving stones” and in describing the comparison of Hareton and Linton as that between "gold" and "tin polished to ape a service of silver". Heathcliff appears overjoyed that Hareton “takes pride in his brutishness” as he recognises that Hareton is actually quite intelligent, “If he were a born a fool I should not enjoy it half as much but he’s no fool” implying that he takes joy in Hareton’s apparent bliss in his ignorance probably as it makes a bigger and better revenge for him against Hindley. In this respect it is therefore ironic that Hareton should grow so fond of Heathcliff not only as he has taken away Hareton’s inheritance in Wuthering Heights but also that Heathcliff is the one that has allowed Hareton to grow ignorant of any world outside of Wuthering Heights and the moors which makes him feel so ashamed when Cathy ridicules him for what she deems his ‘stupididty’. This most of all allows the reader to sympathise with Hareton as somebody who has such good qualities despite the hardship he has faced.
However Heathcliff cannot get below the surface of the outward brutishness that represents Hareton to be of little substance. His fundamental decency is untouched by Heathcliff’s cruelty and he responds to Cathy’s love and beauty by fervently attempting to improve himself. In spite of this development of character and a form of recognition of his rightful place in society he is still deeply attached to Heathcliff as his father figure in life, he is the only mourner who weeps for Heathcliff’s death and he is the only person to genuinely grieve the loss. Hareton’s noble mind recognizes in Heathcliff the results of cruel mistreatment having experienced it himself, “Poor Hareton, the most wronged, was the only one that really suffered much. He sat by the corpse all night, weeping in bitter earnest. He pressed it’s hand and kissed the sarcastic savage face that everyone else shrank from contemplating and bemoaned him with that strong grief which springs naturally from a generous heart, though it be tough as tempered steel.” Hareton’s character in Wuthering Heights is vital in showing the power of love, kindness and the conquest of hate. His inherent good qualities prove that he is heroic in nature.
When Emily Bronte was writing Wuthering Heights the character of an anti- hero had emerged in literature and this idea applies to Heathcliff in many ways. Like Satan in the poem Paradise Lost by John Milton, there is a sense of sympathy for Heathcliff in his war with the world around him just as an audience begins to sympathise with Satan in the war between Heaven and Hell. An anti hero overcomes the obstacles that he faces in life using devious methods whereas a typical hero uses honourable means to over come their obstacles like Hareton does in Wuthering Heights. Anti-heroes are both good and evil and Heathcliff portrays this ideology brilliantly, especially in his use of Hareton. While Heathcliff does his best to destroy the intelligence that Hareton has been born with and intends him to grow into an ignorant half-savage he still suffers moemnets of guilt for this, for example when he recognizes Catherine’s eyes withing Hareton’s face and this more than anything makes him feel guilty as Hareton is so like her, “perhaps you have never remarked that their eyes are precisely similar, and they are those of Catherine Earnshaw. The present Catherine has no other likeness to her, except a breadth of forehead, and a certain arch of the nostril that makes her appear rather haughty, whether she will or not. With Hareton the resemblance is carried farther: it is singular at all times, then it was particularly striking; because his senses were alert, and his mental faculties wakened to unwonted activity. I suppose this resemblance disarmed Mr. Heathcliff: he walked to the hearth in evident agitation; but it quickly subsided as he looked at the young man: or, I should say, altered its character; for it was there yet”. Heathcliff emerges as an anti-hero in Wuthering Heights because it was Brontes way of showing how she felt about her harsh and also eccentric upbringing. As a child her father rejected her and her siblings after their mothers death and they were sent to a school for the daughters of poor clergymen and as she got older she longed for recognition and wealth just as her character Heathcliff does; Heathcliff is her way of showing the world how she feels inside and what evil a desire for wealth and recognition can lead to. If Heathcliff had not felt such a need for vengeance he may well have remained a better person than he is later portrayed. Heathcliff shows himself to be extremely selfish. He destroys Isabella’s life by marrying her and then making her life a misery “She even disgraces the name of Linton; and I've sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention, in my experiments on what she could endure, and still creep shamefully cringing back!”, simply so he could eventually gain ownership of Thrushcross grange. His treatment of Cathy in forcing her to marry Linton also shows his selfish nature as does his neglect of Linton which later leads to Linton’s death. Heathcliff’s main redeeming characteristic is his passionate love for Catherine and yet it is also his downfall. She causes him so much grief and it is her marriage to Edgar that imbeds such hatred within his heart. He can understand Hindley’s horrendous treatment of him but for the person he loves to so heinously reject him completely destroys most of the goodness that he ever had.
Hareton can therefore be defined using the dictionary definition as a hero but it cannot be argued that he is the only male hero within the novel. It must be taken into account that Heathcliff specifically can fall into many of the categories of a hero. His villainous ways, selfishness, ostracisation and rejection of social norms make us question what a hero really is. He combines the qualities of an anti-hero, a misfit hero and the romantic hero. In combining various qualities of these different heroes he becomes the Byronic hero; he comes from unknown origins and he lacks any real family ties.He rebels against all social norms, is pessimistic and reclusive. He rejects all external restrictions and control and seeks to resolve his isolation by uniting with a love object i.e. Catherine. He is unlike any other character in the novel including Hareton as it is too late for Heathcliff to truly redeem himself as Hareton has done.

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