The past influences the future. This is a fact in the novel Wuthering Heights, by the author Emily Bronte. As quoted by a reviewer, this novel is: “An intriguing tale of revenge in which the main characters are controlled by consuming passions. ” It is clearly consistent throughout the novel that mistreatment during the childhood of an individual, leading them to seek revenge, reveals character development. Catherine and Hindley’s mistreatment of Heathcliff during their childhood leading him to revenge in the future demonstrates character development.
Heathcliff’s desire to fulfill his wicked needs of revenge due to unfortunate events encountered at a young age also reveals a change of character. Lastly, Heathcliff’s corruption towards his wife and son due to mistreatment encountered during his childhood leading him to revenge, illustrates an evolution of character. With the aid of these points, the author is successful in proving her theme. Catherine and Hindley’s mistreatment of Heathcliff during their childhood, leading him to seek revenge, reveals a change of character.
This is first portrayed during the Earnshaws’ first dinner with the Lintons, where Hindley disapproves of Heathcliff’s presence at the dinner table and sends him away: “‘He shall have his share of my hand if I catch him downstairs again till dark,’ cried Hindley. ‘Begone you vagabond! What, you are attempting the coxcomb, are you? Wait till I get a hold of those elegant locks – see if I won’t pull them a bit longer! ‘” (Bronte 66). Hindley, Heathcliff’s foster brother, constantly has the presence of jealousy in him towards Heathcliff, especially as a child.
Their father, Mr. Earnshaw, seems to favour Heathcliff over his real son. For this reason, Hindley would constantly pick on Heathcliff and goes as far as moving him in with the servants following the death of his father. This wickedness of his, of course, drastically enforces negative affects on Heathcliff. From that time on, Heathcliff distances himself from most of the people in the household and is also avoided for the most part. This point is also shown in a second scene.
Following the event of Heathcliff’s trouble with Hindley and Edgar, Nelly, the housekeeper, witnesses Catherine’s return to the dinner table with the guests, not seeming to give any importance regarding Heathcliff’s troubles: “‘… how lightly she dismisses hers old playmate’s troubles. I could not have imagined her to be so selfish'” (Bronte 67). Catherine is extremely eager to lay a positive impression on the Lintons due to their high social status in society and their son’s strikingly good looks. In doing so, she pays very little attention to Heathcliff’s problems.
From Heathcliff’s perspective, this is taken as betrayal from Catherine. Being betrayed by the women he loves, Heathcliff feels hopeless and therefore decides to make a drastic change to his lifestyle. Just as Hindley causes him to, Catherine’s actions encourage him even more in isolating himself and beginning to be looked upon as very dark and strange. This eventually leads to his future vengeance towards both of his foster siblings. Therefore, the actions of others towards certain people can drastically impact their future character.