Abuse and Trauma in Wuthering Heights

Category: Psychology
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In the novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, characters are subject to different types of abuse/trauma both mental and physical. This mental and physical stress affects characters such as Catherine Earnshaw, Isabella and Heathcliff in various manners, such as in their daily interactions with others and themselves.

How they handle this stress varies among each character, they each choose a distinct type of coping mechanism to help them get through the day. Bronte grew up between 1818 and 1848 during this time there were rigid social rules in place, that her parents enforced. Especially her father, according to Lamonica her father follows a very “orthodox view that female nature was inherently domestic and that female vocation was ideally located within the home” and that “women should learn in silence, with all subjection to male authority” (Asl 47) this widely held ideology did not only affect Bronte’s private life it also affected her social life. Bronte was forced to use a male pen name, Ellis Bell in order to get her first works published. Her sisters and her felt that they would be subject to prejudice if they were to publish using their female names. Because of her father’s sternness in raising her it caused her to repress any behavior and thoughts that may have been viewed as straying from the norm. Characters in Wuthering Heights reflect Bronte in the fact that they also use repression as a coping mechanism.

Repression is “the basic defense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts feelings and memories from consciousness” (Meyers). Catherine Earnshaw is among one of the couple of characters that uses repression to deal with her stress. The way Catherine carries herself varies on who she is around. She represses behavior that is considered less than ideal to her parents and to those that are of a higher social standing. “Catherine who is wilder in the beginning is forced to change when she goes to live with Edgar” (Borg 6) her free spirit and poor manners are repressed when Edgar Linton or Mr. Earnshaw, her father, are around. Mr. Earnshaw often reprimanded her for her rude behavior of “grinning and spitting…earning for her pains a sound blow from her father to teach her cleaner manners” (Bronte 36) her father does not want her behaving in such a way because of how it reflects on him and his family.

When Catherine is with Heathcliff, she lets herself be more care free and childish than when she is around those that she feels she must impress. Catherine represses her true reasons for marrying Edgar and her feelings about their marriage, “she represses the fact that she will never be happy after her marriage with Edgar” (Abdulkareem 15) and tries to justify it by claiming she did it in order to help Heathcliff. Catherine states that she “can aid Heathcliff to rise” (Bronte 73) as a justification for marrying Edgar but, she is marrying Edgar because of his wealth and social standing not because she is altruistic and wishes to help Heathcliff. Other characters such as Isabella Linton, Heathcliff and Mr. Lockwood also cope using repression. Isabella finds Catherine to be someone who causes her great anxiety. Catherine is a reminder to Isabella of where her bad decision has led her. Seeing Catherine reminds her of the warning she was given about Heathcliff but chose to ignore, “Heathcliff is an unreclaimed creature without refinement without cultivation …[a] pitiless wolfish man” (Bronte 90).

Isabella does not wish to be reminded of her mistakes and pride that led her to a life of misery ,“Isabella tries to avoid seeing and hearing Catherines child its is an example of repression in that it is an attempt not to see the image of Catherine in that child” (Abdulkareem 19). Heathcliff also finds solace in using repression to deal with his emotions towards Catherine and also physically removes himself from stressful situations in order to come back improved. Heathcliff escapes to an unknown location after overhearing Nellys conversation with Catherine, in which Catherine says, “it would degrade me to marry Heathcliff” (Bronte, 72) and that if she marries Edgar she will “be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood” (Bronte 71). “his disappearance is a result of repression he has escaped from the reality that Catherine has rejected him because of his inferior social status” (Abdulkareem 14)

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Abuse and Trauma in Wuthering Heights. (2021, May 27). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/abuse-and-trauma-in-wuthering-heights/

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