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The Role Of Justice In Wuthering Heights By Emily Bronte

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The question of how to approach justice has long been deliberated upon by societies and individuals. Justice systems were slowly created so that individuals would not have the sole power to decide what justice looks like, and informal justice developed in the belief of karma and other such ideas that people get what they deserve. While some rely on the justice systems that our society has put into place, others still decide to take matters into their own hands as they become judge, jury, and executioner. In Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, the character Heathcliff is one such believer in avenging oneself. Heathcliff focuses his entire adulthood on taking revenge, thinking himself to be exacting justice. In reality, Heathcliff does far more…show more content…
He begins by avenging his childhood rival Hindley, who had “hated him,” according to the housekeeper Mrs. Dean, since he arrived at Wuthering Heights (38). Hindley abused him as a child, as Mr. Earnshaw liked Heathcliff better, which “bred bad feeling” between the two from the start (38). Things only got worse for Heathcliff when Mr. Earnshaw died and Hindley became the master of the house. Heathcliff was consistently mistreated and Hindley “drove him from their company to the servants,” making him “labor out of doors… as any other lad on the farm” (46). This degradation reaches its paramount when Catherine said that, “It would degrade [her] to marry Heathcliff now” (80). Thus, Heathcliff pledged revenge for all of these wrongs. When he returns to the town after many years absence, he claims that he has come to, “settle [his] score with Hindley, and after prevent the law by doing execution to [himself]” (96). He promptly drove Hindley to drink more than he already had, tricked him into endless gambling, and beat him out of his property and into his debt. True to his altered character and the extremes that Heathcliff had driven him to, Hindley died “drunk as a lord,” and “in debt,” with the property belonging to Heathcliff (182). One would think that Heathcliff was finished with his revenge. Yet, he decides that he can avenge Hindley in death, even, by…show more content…
He resented Edgar for marrying Catherine, as he felt that if he hadn’t been degraded by Hindley he would have been able to marry her. Nelly claims that Heathcliff “[seemed] to hate,” Edgar even as a child and considered him, “as a rival.” (58). His eventual wish to seek revenge was a progression of their childhood rivalry that was only heightened by Edgar’s marriage to Catherine. Heathcliff began to take revenge on Edgar as soon as he returned to Wuthering Heights. He regularly visited Catherine, despite how much this bothered Edgar, as Nelly describes he, “grew pale with pure annoyance,” at Heathcliff’s mere presence (96). After Catherine’s death, Heathcliff continued to take revenge on Edgar by way of his daughter, Cathy. He hoped that his son Linton and Cathy, “may fall in love and get married,” so that he may inherit Edgar’s property upon his sickly son Linton’s death. Heathcliff succeeded, locking both Cathy and Nelly away until Cathy agreed to marry Linton. With this, Heathcliff achieved his desire to become master of Thrushcross Grange upon Edgar’s death, which came soon after. Heathcliff now had control over Edgar’s property and daughter, and had succeeded with his revenge. In his typical manner, he goes past the point of revenge and takes out his dislike for her father on Cathy. In the end, she reminds him so fully of her mother who he had once loved that
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