Wuthering Heights Victim vs. Victimizer

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Victim vs. Victimizer Readers often pity literary characters who play the role of a victim. In Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Heathcliff: an outsider brought into the wealthy Earnshaw family, Hindley: the eldest Earnshaw child with a strong dislike for Heathcliff, and Hareton: the orphaned child Heathcliff takes in to raise, are victims, yet they evolve to perpetuate the abuse they suffered. Being able to be or become a victim or victimizer show the complexity of these characters. Emily Bronte manipulates readers to pity Heathcliff, Hindley, and Hareton, in spite of the hideous pain they inflict on others. John Hagan states, “Wuthering Heights is such a remarkable work partly because it persuades us to forcibly pity victims and…show more content…
Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?” (Bronte 106). Isabella questions Heathcliff’s humanity, revealing that Heathcliff uses his pain to fuel the harm he inflicts on others. Hareton Earnshaw, a victim of Hindley, Heathcliff, and Cathy, stands up for himself, shocking the reader’s perception of his character. Hareton is a victim of his father’s alcohol abuse and gambling addiction. These addictions are a result of Frances’ death and the reader becomes sympathetic towards Hindley; however, Hareton is the innocent victim affected by the lack of care from his father. Hareton is a toddler when Hindley holds him over the railing of a staircase, threatening his life. Once Hindley dies, Heathcliff takes on the responsibility to care for young Hareton. He does not know that he is being used as part of Heathcliff’s plan to get revenge on Hindley for abusing him as a child. Heathcliff wishes to keep Hareton ignorant and uneducated in an effort to degrade him. When describing Hareton, Nelly, the house servant, says, “He appeared to have bent his malevolence on making him a brute: he was never taught to read or write; never rebuked for any bad habit which did not annoy his keeper; never led a single step towards virtue, or guarded by a single precept against vice” (Bronte 152). Hareton is a victim to society because he is kept an uncivilized and ignorant young man. The reader feels sympathetic towards him because he is made to be an inferior

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