Child Abuse in The Victorian Novel: A Critical Analysis of Heathcliff’s Character as a Victim or Perpetrator in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights

  • Dr. Maysam Bahaa Saleh

Abstract





Wuthering Heights gives readers a good idea of what it must have been like to be an orphan in Victorian society. Readers’ sympathies go naturally to Heathcliff at the outset because he is seen only as a victim of ill-treatment by Hindley Earnshow. When Heathcliff is brought as a boy to the Earnshow's home, Mrs. Earnshow's first reaction is to fling the child out of doors. That night even the kind-hearted Nelly puts the child on the landing in the hope that it might be gone by the next morning. Later, old Mr. Linton finds Heathcliff prowling about with Cathy near Thrushcross Grange and immediately says, "It is, but a boy. Would it not be a kindness to the country to hang him at once?" When Hindley becomes the master of Wuthering Heights, he ill-treats and degrades Heathcliff forcing him to work as a drug on the farm. This treatment forms the basis of Heathcliff's resolve afterwards to take revenge upon Hindley and Edgar.Heathcliff is the main character in Emily Brontë’s classic novel Wuthering Heights, and the whole plot revolves around this strange man from the time when he arrives at Wuthering Heights as a dark and dirty foundling and until he ends his days as a powerful landlord of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. This evolvement of the character makes him one of the most fascinating characters in English literature.The study will try to elucidate Bronte’s depiction of the theme of victimization represented by the main character, Heathcliff, who has been abused and victimized and turned to be a victimizer. It is expected to find out that the hero could be a victim or a perpetrator or both, and how does abuse affect his personality and attitudes towards himself and the society he lives in. Besides, the victim may develop anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, and may suffer permanent physical or emotional damage and that of course will make a deep scar in the hero’s psyche which will turn him into either an angel or a devil. 






 

Published
2018-08-27
How to Cite
BAHAA SALEH, Dr. Maysam. Child Abuse in The Victorian Novel: A Critical Analysis of Heathcliff’s Character as a Victim or Perpetrator in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Mustansiriyah Journal of Arts (MuJA), [S.l.], n. 67, p. 1:24, aug. 2018. ISSN 0258-1086. Available at: <http://amm.uomustansiriyah.edu.iq/index.php/mustansiriyah/article/view/342>. Date accessed: 28 nov. 2021.
Section
Articles