Rage and its Power in Bronte’s Emily

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Falling madly in love, then traumatized by betrayal, leading to rage and pain is all experienced by a special character named Heathcliff, in Emily Brontë’s famous novel Wuthering Heights. He is the one who sits at the center of the story. Heathcliff, a resentful and revenge seeking man is the chosen character, to analyze and illustrate from the novel. As an orphan, he was fostered by Mr. Earnshaw and taken to Wuthering heights which is image of a mansion like home, yet a less civilized environment.

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There he met his new foster siblings, Hindley and Catherine. Heathcliff’s first image is described as a dark-skinned boy who was homeless. Heathcliff was tortured by Hindley, Catherine on the other hand became close to Heathcliff and they both grew passionate towards one another. Heathcliff later is heartbroken and devasted by Catherine’s betrayal of choosing another man named Edgar Linton. In this position, Heathcliff’s anger had bottled up, causing him to make drastic decision, such as revenge seeking. Heathcliff, a lover and a hater, reveals the life of a twisted revenge seeker that destroys both him and the character around him.

Initially, as a lonely young boy, Heathcliff was not a likeable character from the beginning because he had nobody and was living on the streets as a homeless child. The image of Heathcliff is raggedy and had dark skin, he was even referred to as the devil. Therefore, giving him a image of a savage. The language spoken by Heathcliff was English with a heavy Yorkshire dialect. Heathcliff was given his name by Mr. Earnshaw the man who adopted him. A character says, “I found they had christened him ‘Heathcliff”; it was the name of son who died in childhood, and it has served him ever since, both Christian and surname” (Bronte 37-38). The meaning behind the name symbolizes as a bad omen.

In addition to his early years, Heathcliff had experienced a rough childhood after Mr. Earnshaw passed away. Hindley the foster brother was now the owner of Wuthering Heights. Hindley treated Heathcliff like a slave, by making him become a worker out in the fields because he was not fond of him and saw Heathcliff as a threat to his inheritance. Heathcliff also took extreme physical abuse from his foster brother. This resulted Heathcliff to have a lifelong hate and anger. Aside from the rage from being abused, Heathcliff had grown passionate towards his foster sister Catherine, then soon they were inseparable. Heathcliff had begun to spend more of his time with her, falling deeper in love, as if he was destined to be with her.

In contrast, Heathcliff finds his lover amused with the neighbors, Edgar and Isabella Linton who were living at Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff observed Catherine wardrobe has significantly changed. She no longer dressed less civil like Heathcliff and was more civil and elegant like Edgar Linton. There was a tense of jealously towards Edgar by Heathcliff, and he couldn’t bear to see his lover falling into the hands of another man. He even jotted down the only days he had received attention from Catherine.

Another bit of evidence is seen when Heathcliff’s internal conflicts of jealousy, anger, and low self-esteem created problems for the other characters in the novel. This is evidenced by Heathcliff’s statement, “I wish I had light hair and fair skin, and was dressed, and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he will be!” (Bronte 57). Another cause had torn Heathcliff apart was when he had overheard Catherine agreeing to marry Edgar because of Edgars wealthy lifestyle. She knew Hindley belittled Heathcliff and would only approve of Edgars hand in marriage. Now Heathcliff is devastated and angry with Catherine choosing Edgar over him. He leaves Wuthering Heights at that point and storms off into the dark night.

As a consequence, Heathcliff returns to Wuthering heights after three years. This time he presents himself as a polished, gentlemen like, fit, and with large amounts of money. It wasn’t clear where he had received the all the money from. Heathcliff’s purpose to come back was to drive Hindley to his grave. As he had vowed to seek revenge on Hindley. To have a well thought out plan is cruelly intelligent of Heathcliff. He knew by becoming a tenant to Hindley and paying money to stay at Wuthering Heights will lead Hindley to buy alcohol and drink himself to death.

At the same time, Heathcliff goes to Thrushcross Grange to see Catherine, he sees her married to Edgar, she refuses to leave Edgar for Heathcliff. He now feels jealous and hopeless; however, Heathcliff is a sneaky man. With Edgars absence, Heathcliff began to linger Isabelle into thinking he loves her. Catherine was not happy Heathcliff was spending time with her sister in law. This is what Heathcliff wanted, he kisses her in front of Catherine and she was angry. Heathcliff informs her, “What is it to you? He growled, ‘I have a right to kiss her, if she chooses, and you have no right t object-I’m not your husband, you needn’t be jealous of me!” (Bronte 111). Heathcliff’s mind is now twisted and bizarre, he hung Isabelle dog, as he was waiting for Isabelle to sneak off with him back to Wuthering Heights.

For this reason, Heathcliff marries Isabelle to one day take over Thrushcross grange and Wuthering Heights. He eventually did take over Wuthering Heights after Hindley dies. He had no love for Isabelle, this was just a part of his plan. He abused her physically and was violent man. His only true lover is Catherine. Catherine later dies which puts Heathcliff in a psychotic stage. Heathcliff’s jealousy is what motivated him to act on revenge to become the owner of his two rivals’ homes. He eventually does succeed and takes over both properties.

Overall, Heathcliff started off abused by his foster brother Hindley and experience a rough childhood by becoming a slave. However, he was able to find love where he grew madly in love with his foster sister Catherine. He becomes devastated when he learns his lover chooses another man named Edgar. He leaves Wuthering Heights and returns to seek revenge. He becomes the owner of both homes Wuthering Heights and inherits Edgars home Thrushcross Grange. In reality, it is wise to not let jealousy overpower our state of mind. This can drive you insane as evidence by Heathcliff’s experience.

Work cited

  1. Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Penguin, 2002.
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Rage and Its Power in Bronte's Emily. (2021, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/rage-and-its-power-in-brontes-emily/