Violence in Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights"

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 725 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Sep 16, 2023

Words: 725|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Sep 16, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Physical Violence
  2. Psychological Violence
  3. Violence as a Cycle
  4. The Inescapable Nature of Violence
  5. Conclusion: A Haunting Exploration of Human Nature

Emily Brontë's classic novel, "Wuthering Heights," is a masterpiece of Gothic literature, known for its turbulent and darkly passionate narrative. At its heart, the novel explores the destructive power of love, revenge, and the cyclical nature of violence. In this essay, we will delve into the theme of violence in "Wuthering Heights" and how it permeates the lives of its characters.

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Physical Violence

Physical violence is a recurring motif in "Wuthering Heights." The novel is set against the backdrop of the isolated and desolate Yorkshire moors, and this harsh landscape seems to reflect the brutality that unfolds within the characters' lives. Several instances of physical violence stand out:

  1. Heathcliff's Abuse: Heathcliff, the enigmatic protagonist of the novel, is a character marked by violence. His abusive treatment of his wife, Isabella, is particularly disturbing. He marries her out of revenge against the Lintons and then mistreats her both physically and emotionally.
  2. Hindley's Cruelty: Hindley, Heathcliff's adoptive brother, is another character prone to violence. His abusive treatment of Heathcliff after the death of Mr. Earnshaw, their father figure, is a central element of the story. Hindley's excessive drinking exacerbates his violent behavior.
  3. Cathy's Self-Harm: Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff's beloved, resorts to self-harm as a form of emotional release. Her actions are a manifestation of the inner turmoil and torment that the characters experience throughout the novel.

Psychological Violence

While physical violence is explicit in "Wuthering Heights," psychological violence is equally pervasive. The characters engage in psychological manipulation, emotional cruelty, and revenge-driven mind games:

  1. Heathcliff's Vengeful Schemes: Heathcliff's quest for revenge against the Earnshaws and the Lintons is driven by a desire to inflict emotional pain. He uses psychological manipulation to control and torment those who have wronged him.
  2. Cathy and Heathcliff's Toxic Relationship: The relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff is marked by emotional cruelty. They engage in hurtful behavior and manipulate each other's emotions, contributing to their tragic fate.
  3. Isolation and Loneliness: The characters in the novel often experience isolation and loneliness, which can be seen as a form of psychological violence. They are cut off from society and trapped within the confines of Wuthering Heights.

Violence as a Cycle

One of the central themes of "Wuthering Heights" is the idea that violence begets violence. The characters' actions and behaviors perpetuate a cycle of brutality and revenge that spans generations. This cycle is evident in the characters of Hareton and Linton, who mirror the violent behaviors of their predecessors:

  1. Hareton and Heathcliff: Hareton, the son of Hindley, initially exhibits a rough and uneducated demeanor due to his abusive upbringing. He mirrors the young Heathcliff in his ignorance and mistreatment.
  2. Linton's Weakness: Linton, the son of Heathcliff and Isabella, is physically weak and emotionally manipulated by his father. He embodies the cycle of weakness and cruelty that has plagued the characters of Wuthering Heights.

The novel suggests that violence is not an isolated incident but a destructive force that permeates the social fabric of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange.

The Inescapable Nature of Violence

Throughout "Wuthering Heights," there is a sense of inevitability about the violence that unfolds. The characters seem trapped in a cycle of brutality and revenge from which there is no escape. Even the love between Catherine and Heathcliff, which is at the heart of the novel, is tainted by violence and ultimately ends in tragedy.

The isolation of the moors, the harsh weather, and the gothic atmosphere of the novel all contribute to a sense of foreboding and darkness. The characters are drawn into a world of emotional turmoil and destructive passions, and their lives are shaped by the violence that surrounds them.

Conclusion: A Haunting Exploration of Human Nature

"Wuthering Heights" is a haunting exploration of the darker aspects of human nature—violence, revenge, and the destructive power of love. Emily Brontë's portrayal of violence in the novel is not gratuitous but serves as a reflection of the characters' inner turmoil and the harsh environment in which they live.

While the violence in "Wuthering Heights" is disturbing, it also serves as a powerful commentary on the consequences of unchecked passion and revenge. The novel challenges readers to confront the complexities of human behavior and the inescapable nature of violence within the human psyche.

Ultimately, "Wuthering Heights" is a timeless classic that continues to captivate readers with its exploration of the dark undercurrents of the human soul and the enduring legacy of violence that shapes the

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lives of its characters.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Violence in Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”. (2023, September 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Violence in Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”.” GradesFixer, 16 Sept. 2023,
Violence in Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Feb. 2024].
Violence in Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Sept 16 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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