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Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte, has different literacy devices and themes running deep through the novel. I believe one of the main nonphysical themes in Wuthering Heights is Heathcliff’s revenge. Heathcliff’s lust for revenge devours everyone at Wuthering Heights and Thruscross Grange. In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte uses foreshadowing, metaphors, and climax to describe how revenge is able consume everything around it.
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Using foreshadowing, Emily Bronte hints at what will come of Hindley in the future. In chapter six Hindley returns home for the funeral of Mr. Earnshaw, this is where he shows his true feelings for Heathcliff:
Hindley became tyrannical. A few words from her, evincing a dislike to Heathcliff, were enough to rouse in him all his old hatred of the boy. He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm (44).
After Hindley abuses Heathcliff, Heathcliff tells Nelly:
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. I hope he will not die before I do … I only wish I knew the best way! Let me alone, and I’ll plan it out: while I’m thinking of that, I don’t feel pain (55).
I believe this provides understanding about Heathcliff’s hostility directed toward Hindley. With Hindley abusing Heathcliff and treating him like a servant it only provokes more hostility and anger from Heathcliff. As well as foreshadowing Hindley’s impending doom (Peterson).
Hindley’s impending doom arrives in chapter 17. When Mr. Green, Hindley’s Lawyer, says:
‘His father died in debt,’ he said; ‘the whole property is mortgaged, and the sole chance for the natural heir is to allow him an opportunity of creating some interest in the creditor’s heart, that he may be inclined to deal leniently towards him (158).
Hindley, Healthcliff’s abuser, dies broke; Heathcliff obtains the deed to the Wuthering Heights. However, Heathcliff gains no satisfaction or happiness from the short comings of Hindley. Rather than having a feeling of fulfillment by obtaining the Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff still abuses his son Linton and Hindley’s son Hareton:
He had the hypocrisy to represent a mourner: and previous to following with Hareton, he lifted the unfortunate child on to the table and muttered, with peculiar gusto, “Now, my bonny lad, you are mine! And we’ll see if one tree won’t grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it” (159).
I believe vengeful doings from Heathcliff make him more miserable and cruel towards others. Shifting from abusing Hindley’s financial position Heathcliff starts abusing Hindley’s family. That shows Heathcliff’s revenge is taking over his actions. Instead of only wronging Hindley for abusing him when he was younger, Heathcliff is now abusing Hareton. Heathcliff is actually becoming more like Hindley, and Heathcliff’s appetite for revenge cannot be sated. He has the compelling feeling to hurt everyone and everything around him, including his own son.
In chapter nine Emily Bronte makes use of metaphors to provide insight on Heathcliff’s desire for revenge. When Hindley drops his own son over the ledge Heathcliff is there to save him in time. In the following quote Emily Bronte uses a metaphor to explain when Heathcliff saved Hareton’s life. Heathcliff actually made it more difficult for him to get his revenge on Hindley:
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There was scarcely time to experience a thrill of horror before we saw that the little wretch was safe. Heathcliff arrived underneath just at the critical moment; by a natural impulse he arrested his descent, and setting him on his feet, looked up to discover the author of the accident. â€¦ It expressed, plainer than words could do, the intensest anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own revenge. Had it been dark, I daresay he would have tried to remedy the mistake by smashing Hareton’s skull on the steps; but, we witnessed his salvation; (68).
In the quote Emily Bronte uses a metaphor comparing when Heathcliff is rescuing Hareton from his father he is hurting his chances at seeking revenge. Heathcliff is actually helping Hindley instead of obtaining his sought out revenge because if Heathcliff allowed Hareton to fall to his death Hindley would become emotionally devastated.
In chapter 15 Emile Bronte makes use of climax to show a great turning point and great tension between Catherine and Heathcliff. In this chapter Catherine is on her death bed talking to Heathcliff. During the church service Heathcliff sneaks into Thrushcross Grange with help from Nelly. Heathcliff and Catherine are having this conversation:
‘You teach me now how cruel you’ve been – cruel and false. WHY did you despise me? WHY did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself … ‘Let me alone. Let me alone,’ sobbed Catherine. ‘If I’ve done wrong, I’m dying for it. It is enough! You left me too: but I won’t upbraid you! I forgive you. Forgive me!’ ‘It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,’ he answered. ‘Kiss me again; and don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love MY murderer – but YOURS! How can I?’ (139).
This quote shows us that the revenge and emotional trauma from Heathcliff’s actions is causing Catherine to die. Catherine experiences the pain of watching Heathcliff love another woman. Heathcliff is watching as his beloved Catherine belong to another man fuels his lust for revenge. Heathcliff’s desire for revenge consumes everything he is involved with, including his lover’s life (Spark).
In chapter thirty-three Heathcliff’s desire for revenge seems to finally dissipate (Wilbur). Long after Catherine’s death it seems Heathcliff has lost interest in revenge shown by the following quote:
My old enemies have beaten me; now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their representatives: I could do it; and none could hinder me. But where is the use? I don’t care for striking. I can’t take the trouble to raise my hand! That sounds as if I had been labouring the whole time, only to exhibit a fine trait of magnanimity. It is far from being the case – I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing (217).
After all of the revenge plots, cruelty, and rage Heathcliff finally becomes exhausted. Heathcliff’s desire to seek revenge on everyone who has wronged him has fallen through (Wang). Peace is finally returned when Heathcliff gives up on revenge and dies alone, exhausted, and without loving company.
Emily Bronte uses different literacy devices to show the theme of Heathcliff’s revenge is consuming everything he is involved with including himself and Catherine. Emily Bronte uses foreshadowing to show us that Heathcliff gets his revenge on Hindley from wronging him. Heathcliff rescuing Hareton from Hindley is a metaphor Emily Bronte uses to provide insight on Heathcliff’s revenge. Emily’s use of metaphors shows that Heathcliff’s revenge consumes all and revenge in life is the same way. In the end no one comes out ahead and everybody loses. Using the climax of the story Emily shows that Catherine’s death is directly related to Heathcliff’s bad choices, and in the end it’s all for nothing because Heathcliff gives up on seeking his revenge and lets peace return to the Wuthering Heights.
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