About literature

Updated May 14, 2022

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About literature essay

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In one of his memorable speeches, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars…” The quote emphasizes that “returning violence” like an act of revenge can never bring harmony but increases the preexisting chaos between both parties. In Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, a gothic romance novel that describes the far-reaching impacts of cruelty, Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by Mr.Earnshaw, “return[s] violence” or gives everyone involved in separating him from his soulmate Catherine a taste of his revenge. Even though Heathcliff’s evil actions of verbal and physical abuse are a product of the maltreatment he received since childhood, he should be responsible for his actions which make his life more miserable than ever. Bronte juxtaposes Heathcliff with Hareton, employs vivid diction and characterizes him as a target of torture to shed light on the consequences of harshness, conveying the message that being cruel not only pushes victims to become perpetrators but also make their lives melancholic.

Bronte was thoroughly transforming Heathcliff’s diction as a way of imitating the turning points in his life to describe the transformation Heathcliff is going through as a person. In the beginning, Heathcliff’s words were described by Nelly as “some gibberish that nobody could understand” and it can be inferred that Heathcliff is a child who is still trying to learn language (38). It was this language and his “darkskinned gypsy” appearance that made him look from a very low social status and a easy prey for others to insult him (4). But, soon after his deliberate effort in moving up on the hierarchy of social status, he uses longer sentences with polished words and during this time period, his hatred against Hindley also increases where Heathcliff comes back to even the scores. In the process of settling the scores, Heathcliff once says, “if you think I can be consoled by sweet words, you are an idiot: and if you fancy I’ll suffer unrevenged, I’ll convince you of the contrary” to Catherine (123). As his usage of language suggests, Heathcliff’s nature is violent, harsh and very rough now. He is unable to go past the neglect and abuse he experienced as a young boy; but, now in adulthood, it is also clear that vengeance is significantly motivating Heathcliff’s actions and thoughts so far that it has even compelled him to be rude with Catherine, his obsessed love and the cause of his revenge, as he calls her “an idiot” (Dunleavy). There is no doubt now that as he is losing control over his language, he is also losing control of himself that he starts to replace the villains in his life, Edgar and Hindley, with himself unknowingly. The resemblance between his enemies, especially with Hindley, and himself grows to be distinct as revenge becomes a need for Heathcliff. Bronte again wields the variation in Heathcliff’s diction to portray the similarity like when Heathcliff verbally abuses Isabella by calling a “mere slut” which is similar to the way Hindley calls Heathcliff as “Off, dog” (165,41). Here, through these quotes, Bronte shows that Heathcliff employs harsher language than Hindley and is becoming as evil as Hindley but he carries a higher dose of cruelty in him. So, it all comes down to revealing the concept that being cruel and violent can be passed down through people.

Exploring deeper into the plot, Bronte didn’t only want to singularly focus on the cycle of vengeance like from Hindley to Hareton but also the suffering that comes with it by contrasting Heathcliff and Hareton. Even though, Heathcliff explains how he will “suffer unrevenged”, he suffered considerably more than if he were to drop his revenge. Heathcliff himself realizes that payback is not connected with happiness when he tells, “But where is the use? I don’t care for striking…I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing”(357). Bronte’s path of making Heathcliff consumed by revenge for self-actualization directly reveals that pain and misery are the only outcomes of revenge. Coming to the juxtaposition of Heathcliff and Hareton, it is very crucial at the end of the novel as two different outcomes of people from similar childhood experiences are highlighted and compared next to each other. As “the intimacy,” Nelly announces “grew rapidly” between Cathy and Hareton, the love and care between them act like a medicine for the ill-treatment they received from childhood (349). On the contrary, growing up in hostile and indifferent surroundings can greatly affect children where they might end up being neurotic which is what Bronte demonstrated through Heathcliff’s life (Fuli). So, while Heathcliff is left lonely, Cathy and Hareton buckle up for a bright future where Bronte takes up this opportunity of contrasting endings to convey that the cycle of revenge can be broken which she builds from the beginning. Thus, Bronte clearly shows that if Heathcliff did not pursue his revenge then he would have lived in peace beforehand.

Heathcliff’s experiences throughout the novel not only demonstrates the phrase “cruelty begets cruelty” but also illuminates the idea that mistreatment can build the staircase for one’s own self-destruction. But unlike Heathcliff, Bronte lets Hareton break the phrase mentioned above as he rises with the love and care of Cathy despite being tormented since childhood. So, moreover, by letting Hareton have a happy ending, Bronte again proves what Martin Luther King said, “…Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” So, love always trumps hate.

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About literature. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/about-literature/


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