Violence in Wuthering Heights: Examples & Analysis

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In ''Wuthering Heights'' by Emily Bronte, the characters that spend time at Wuthering Heights find themselves thinking and acting in increasingly violent ways. In this lesson, we will learn about some examples of violence in the story.

Violent Thoughts and Actions

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is not only a dysfunctional love story, but lends itself to a great deal of violence that inevitably envelopes the guests and residents of Wuthering Heights. Even mild-mannered people like Lockwood and Isabella begin to have cruel and violent thoughts even after a short time in the Heights. In the beginning, the violence is directed at the one who is perceived as being the perpetrator who created bad feelings, but over time, the violence becomes more calculated and indirect. Let's look at some examples of violence from Wuthering Heights.

Lockwood's Dream

Lockwood, the man who is renting Thrushcross Grange, appears to be a meek and mild man, but when he goes to Wuthering Heights, his demeanor changes. He begins to take on the violent nature of his hosts. Violence is even apparent in his dreams. Lockwood's dream is religious in nature, but when Lockwood is accused of committing the unforgivable sin of being unforgiving, the congregation begins to turn on him. 'In the confluence of the multitude, several clubs crossed; blows, aimed at me, fell on other sconces.' As they attempt to beat him with their pilgrim staves, they end up hitting each other and the entire church disintegrates into chaos. The violence doesn't end there. Lockwood thinks he is awake, but enters a second nightmare in which the ghost of Catherine grabs his arm through the window. Out of fear, Lockwood rubs her wrists against the glass until they bleed.

The fact that Lockwood begins to think violent thoughts nearly as soon as he enters Wuthering Heights establishes the tumultuous and violent nature of that residence.

Hindley Flogs Heathcliff

It all started with sibling rivalry. After their father's death, Hindley takes over as the Master of Wuthering Heights and turns Heathcliff into a servant. For the most part, Hindley ignores Heathcliff, but when he gets into trouble, Hindley flogs him. When Edgar Linton comes to Wuthering Heights for dinner, Heathcliff is already upset because of the attention Catherine is giving him, so when Edgar mentions Heathcliff's hair, he reacts by throwing apple sauce at Edgar. 'He was in a bad temper, and now you've spoilt your visit; and he'll be flogged: I hate him to be flogged!' says Catherine to Edgar. After Heathcliff's flogging, Hindley tells Edgar that he should flog Heathcliff the next time that happens.

Heathcliff's upbringing from the time his father dies is in the hands of his cruel, jealous, drunk brother. Heathcliff learns to control others through violence by watching the way his brother treats him.

Heathcliff Abuses Isabella

After Edgar marries Catherine, Heathcliff swears vengeance on the entire Linton family. He goes so far as to marry Edgar's sister, just so he can abuse her. On their first night together at Wuthering Heights, Isabella realizes what she has gotten herself into when Heathcliff promises '…that I should be Edgar's proxy in suffering, till he could get hold of him.' When Isabella finally has enough, she sides with Hindley in a brawl between Hindley and Heathcliff and then taunts Heathcliff about his failed relationship with Catherine. Unable to handle her insults, '…he snatched a dinner-knife from the table and flung it at my head. It struck beneath my ear, and stopped the sentence I was uttering…' prompting Isabella to finally leave him.

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