Theme Of Romanticism In Wuthering Heights

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Beginning with his mysterious arrival at Wuthering Heights, his subsequent brutal childhood, and his vengeful quest to wreak havoc against the society that wronged him, Emily Brontë’s novel, Wuthering Heights follows the dark and twisted tale of Heathcliff, the Byronic hero of the story. Despite being an instrument of suffering for others, throughout the story, Heathcliff unexpectedly flashes his inherent good nature and Romantic ideals. While in his adulthood, he may act animalistic and even satanic, Heathcliff’s cruelty and uncontrollable desire for revenge is rooted in the mistreatment from Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw. By using the Earnshaw family as a means of corrupting her inherently good Byronic hero, Emily Brontë uses the character…show more content…
Even in his first introduction to Wuthering Heights, the Earnshaw family immediately ostracizes Heathcliff for his distinctive appearance. When Mr. Earnshaw presents Heathcliff to the family, his wife demands to know “how he [Mr. Earnshaw] could fashion to bring that gipsy brat into the house…?” (37). Mrs. Earnshaws’ dissatisfaction with the orphan child foreshadow his lonely childhood at Wuthering Heights as the family does not treat him equally as he does not come from their society. Additionally, Mrs. Earnshaws’ assumption that Heathcliff must be a “gypsy” shows her prejudice. When Catherine stays at Thrushcross Grange, Hindley reduces Heathcliff’s status to a servant. When she returns and begins to court Edgar, Heathcliff feels so ashamed of his position and appearance that he exclaims, “But, Nelly, if I knocked him down twenty times, that wouldn’t make him less handsome, or me more so. I wish I had light hair and a fair skin, and was dressed, and behaved as well, and had a chance of being rich as he will be!” (57). Heathcliff’s heightened sense of not belonging shows how the Earnshaws have reduced his confidence by degrading him because of his background and his status as a minority. Heathcliff’s admittance that he will never be as appealing as Edgar…show more content…
Although he appears inexplicably satanic and destructive, Heathcliff’s corrupted behavior and crusade of vengeance originates from the abuses of the Earnshaws. Heathcliff’s initial frustration with the Earnshaws comes from the mistreatment from Hindley, his adoptive brother. So enraged by Hindley, Heathcliff pronounces, “I’m trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don’t care how long I wait, if I can only do it, at last.” (61) Hindley’s unnecessary maltreatment such as forced servitude, hastens Heathcliff’s decline, as Hindley prods Heathcliff to resent the Earnshaw family. Heathcliff’s hatred drives him to take revenge by fueling Hindley’s drinking and gambling addiction, in addition to corrupting his son, Hareton. Next, when Catherine’s decides to marry Edgar, Heathcliff’s depression and disappointment over his lost love drive him to lose control of his moral character and transform into a vengeful man. Heathcliff admits to Catherine, “I have not broken your heart –you have broken it –and in breaking it, you have broken mine…” (163). Heathcliff’s jealousy of Edgar and his temporary frustration with Catherine ignite his quest for revenge. Heathcliff proceeds to destroy the remainder of the Earnshaw family by enticing into marriage Isabella with false love and torturing sickly Linton to insanity. Heathcliff’s broken heart
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