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Wuthering Heights

By stacious Oct 15, 2014 846 Words
History regards Emily Bronte’s sole novel “Wuthering Heights” to be fundamentally immoral and particularly scandalous in the creation her central character, the brutal Heathcliff. Viewed now some century and a half later, the work is truly seen for what it is, a work genius that continues to attract. “With the modern understanding of the way childhood affects one's whole perception of life and the world”, it would be surface levelled to label Heathcliff “evil”. Established from a purely Marxist-oriented interpretation of Heathcliff, the audience allows his misgivings due to the rough hand he was dealt and can acknowledge his obsession to revenge himself against his oppressors. However his unwarranted subjugation of innocents in the narrative call into question whether this anomaly of a character is inherently evil. Heathcliff wins sympathy not because we condone his actions, or his justified motives for vengeance. It is because he is on the side of humanity, what Heathcliff stands for is morally superior to what the Lintons stand for. We continue in an obscurely to identify ourselves with him and against the other characters and recognize his actions to be a form of rough moral justice towards his oppressors. It is unknown what circumstances might have befallen young Heathcliff before he is picked up in Liverpool by Mr Earnshaw. With the modern understanding of the way childhood affects one's whole perception of life and the world, the conclusion can be made that Heathcliff’s unknown origins and continued treatment at the Heights comes into play, twisting his nature. Nelly confesses that she and Hindley “plagued and went on him shamefully”, as the young master saw the new addition to the household as a “usurper of his parent’s affections and his privileges”. He thus he grew “bitter” and went about mistreating him to “reduce him” to the low social class he believed Heathcliff to be worth. Hindley forms a representation of the privileged and conversely Heathcliff with depravity. He journeys from orphaned infant to disheartened slave to a heartless equal in Victorian society in the course of the narrative. In overcoming the class system that had once imprisoned him, Heathcliff rises against his adversaries and thus can be acknowledged as an underdog of the imperialist oppression that readers levitate towards naturally condemning.

Alternatively the thesis falls short when Heathcliff’s actions against Cathy Linton, Isabella Linton and especially Haerton Earnshaw, are taken into account. They have neither been his oppressors nor warranted his subjugation of them. It is rather a laudable attempt to beat Hindley and Edgar “at their own game”. In a warped sense of fairness, Heathcliff keeps in line with what malicious wrongs he had suffered through and exacts the same on to the next generation of Earnshaws and Lintons. In a twist of irony both Cathy Linton and Isabella Linton are manipulated in to a matrimony they do not wish to be party of, and used as a pawn by Heathcliff is to attain further financial success. Yet the most immoral deed is that against Haerton, Hindley’s son, who is brutally degraded to a servant and even stripped to naivety of his own birth right. Heathcliff festers in a contemptuous attitude towards Haerton and only sees how his relationship with him will affect the long-dead Hindley. This reveals his morbid fixation with the past as he continued to dwell of the cruel treatment he receives from Hindley even after he has died and exacted revenge by attaining ownership of Wuthering Heights. Tormenting Hindley from the grave, he mocks that time will reveal if “one tree won’t grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it”. This relates not only Heathcliff’s self-realisation that Hindley and others have in a sense created the monster that he is, but also that he recognises himself now to be the replaced force to “twist” Haerton’s nature. Haerton is a proxy for his father and now in a twist of fate, Heathcliff claims his own place as the oppressor. In one instance Heathcliff “vehemently” tells Catherine that “the tyrant grinds down his slaves” and “crush[es] those beneath [him]”, which truly exposes Heathcliff’s vendetta to now be immoral given that he purposefully and indefensibly projects the same torment he suffered onto Haerton. The primitive eye-for-an-eye morality tactic cannot be used in Heathcliff’s defence, and in actuality condemns Heathcliff himself to the ruling class he had once overcome. Ultimately Heathcliff’s intentions “to turn on them…their own standards…their own weapons of money and arranged marriages”, is notably justified against Hindley and Edgar who stripped him of privilege, degraded him to a slave, and depraved him of the only love he knew in the world by choosing wealth over affection. It is the fact that he then continues this extensive cycle of depravity after redeeming himself. He exceeds the extent to which we can accept his morals and essentially because his remains fixated upon revenge when his wrongs have already been righted, readers gravitate towards condemning the anti-hero who manically continues to fight a war already won.

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