Notes on Wuthering Heights Themes

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Wuthering Heights Topic Tracking: Violence

Chapter 1

Violence 1: Mr. Lockwood has a bad introduction to Wuthering Heights when the dogs attack him. Heathcliff warns him that they are not pets, but when Heathcliff leaves the room, Mr. Lockwood makes faces at them. When the dogs attack, Heathcliff does not hurry to help him. It is the maid who finally comes to his aid. Mr. Lockwood is not used to such treatment, and he tells Heathcliff that if he'd been bitten, he would have responded by hitting the dog. After just a few moments in the house, Mr. Lockwood is moved to contemplate violence.

Chapter 2

Violence 2: The snow is deep on the moors, but Heathcliff will not give Mr. Lockwood a guide home, nor does he want to let him stay at the Heights. Exasperated, Mr. Lockwood grabs Joseph's lantern and decides to try and get home himself. Joseph does not care that Mr. Lockwood said he would return the lantern, and he sends his dogs to attack him. The dogs do not hurt him, but the trouble gives Mr. Lockwood a nosebleed, and the dogs do not let him alone. Heathcliff laughed at this, and only Zillah, the housemaid, came to his aid.

Chapter 3

Violence 3: In Mr. Lockwood's dream, he and Joseph must listen to a preacher moralize about hundreds of sins. When Mr. Lockwood stands up to expose the preacher as a sinner himself, the preacher has the congregation attack him. Everyone, including Joseph, start to attack him with pilgrim sticks, which are meant to aid pilgrims on their travels to holy places.

Violence 4: When the ghost will not let go of Mr. Lockwood, he hurts it, even though it is a child. He drags her arm on the broken glass, and the blood flows onto the bed.

Later Mr. Lockwood nearly witnesses a violent attack against another Catherine. When Mrs. Heathcliff mouths off to her father-in-law, Mr. Lockwood sees her shrink back as though she expects him to hit her. It seems obvious that Heathcliff has hit her before, and he is only holding back because of Mr. Lockwood's presence.

Chapter 4

Violence 5: Nelly tells Mr. Lockwood a story from Heathcliff's childhood. Mr. Earnshaw had favored him, and he was able to get whatever he wanted. When Mr. Earnshaw gave each boy a horse, Heathcliff insisted on having the prettier one. When this one got hurt, Heathcliff tried to take Hindley's horse. Heathcliff threatened to tell father about all the times Hindley beat him, and in retaliation, Hindley hit him. Heathcliff seems to want Hindley to hit him, so he will have something to hold against him. Hindley complies, hitting Heathcliff with an iron weight. He tells him to take his horse, and he hopes it kicks him. The boys are very violent towards each other, and Heathcliff knows he can use it to his advantage. He doesn't even need to fight back, because father will always take his side.

Chapter 6

Violence 6: The Lintons, though they seem more gentle and civilized, do have violence in their hearts. It is a foolish violence, as Isabella and Edgar fight over a puppy. The violence at the Earnshaw estate is more serious, and the Lintons look silly to Catherine and Heathcliff.

Ironically, Catherine is a victim of violence at the Linton's, when their dog bites her ankle as she and Heathcliff try to escape.

Chapter 7

Violence 7: Heathcliff is jealous of Edgar Linton, who is so pale and delicate and well mannered. He hates that Catherine likes him, and when Linton makes a comment about Heathcliff's hair, Heathcliff throws hot applesauce in his face.

Heathcliff's violence is answered with more violence. Hindley took him upstairs and beat him, and when he came back down he told Linton that next time he should beat him himself.

Chapter 9

Violence 8: In his madness, Hindley has become violent. He sticks a knife into Nelly's mouth, angry that she had not yet killed his son, as he'd asked. Then his mood changes, and he wants to hug his son. Even affection is violent with him, and the boy pulls away from his father's rough embrace.

Chapter 10

Violence 9: Jealous of Isabella's attraction to Heathcliff, Catherine torments her sister-in-law with his presence. Catherine grabs hold of Isabella's arm, and this Earnshaw force drives Isabella to be violent too, sinking her nails into Catherine.

Chapter 11

Violence 10: Since Catherine's marriage, Hareton has been solely under the care of Heathcliff, Joseph, and Hindley. Heathcliff is malicious, Joseph is rough, and Hindley is crazy and a drunk. Under their teaching, he has become mean, vulgar, and violent. He throws a stone at Nelly, whose kind care he has already forgotten.

Violence 11: Heathcliff and Catherine are arguing over his conduct with Isabella when Edgar enters. He is not a violent man, and all the agitation makes him breathless and trembling. Finally, after being excessively provoked by Heathcliff, this gentle man hits the brute in the throat.

Chapter 12

Violence 12: Nelly is shocked to find Isabella's dog hung from the Grange wall, near death. She soon learns that Isabella ran off with Heathcliff, and it seems likely that Heathcliff performed this vile act. But Isabella allowed him to do it.

Chapter 14

Violence 13: Heathcliff makes fun of Isabella, who was not disgusted by any of his violence, so strong was her infatuation. Under the spell of Heathcliff, Isabella changed and grew more hardened and used to violence, but still foolishly expected that her rough husband could love her.

Chapter 16

Violence 14: Suffering from the loss of Catherine, Heathcliff hits his head against a tree, causing it to bleed. Nelly sees many bloodstains on the tree, and guesses that Heathcliff had inflicted this pain on himself many times during the night.

Chapter 17

Violence 15: Isabella is so repulsed by her husband and Wuthering Heights that she agrees to let Hindley lock Heathcliff out. But she will not agree to violence, believing that no good ever comes of such actions, and the aggressor is often hurt as well. She does not yet share Heathcliff and Hindley's delight in the suffering of others. Both these men are desperate for revenge, with Hindley trying to shoot Heathcliff, and Heathcliff beating Hindley senseless.

Isabella is beginning to enjoy seeing others suffer. After the incident between Hindley and Heathcliff, Isabella is happy to see Heathcliff looking upset, and she taunts him about Catherine until he cries. Her cruel words lead to a cruel act, just as she previously feared--Heathcliff stabs her with a knife. The bigger surprise is that Isabella, wild and changed, throws it back at him, hoping to wound him.

Chapter 24

Violence 16: Linton is so weak and ill that Hareton does not have to hit him in order to hurt him. After being forced from the living room, Linton became hysterical and had a terrible coughing fit. Cathy still blamed Hareton, and she hit him with her whip as she left.

Chapter 27

Violence 17: When Heathcliff imprisons Cathy and Nelly, Cathy turns violent. She tries to pull the key from his hands, then bites him. Like a caged animal, she frantically tries what she can to get free. To repay her for this act, Heathcliff slapped her head repeatedly.

Chapter 31

Violence 18: Cathy teases Hareton so much that finally he cannot stand it anymore. Unable to match her wit, he uses his fists to quiet her.

Chapter 33

Violence 19: Cathy angers Heathcliff, and he grabs her hair with the intention of beating her. But something comes over him and he releases her, unexpectedly. It is unusual for Heathcliff to miss a chance to abuse someone, and they do not understand, but are grateful.

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