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Wuthering Heights: Violence Of Vendetta

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The Violence of Vendetta

One of the principles of Confucius states “before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” In other words, revenge hurts not only its target, but also the person seeking vengeance. In Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Hindley Earnshaw, Isabella Linton, and Heathcliff play with the double-edged spear of revenge.

In the story, Hindley Earnshaw’s brutal revenge backfires and he ends up sustaining more damage than the person he seeks vengeance against. Hindley feels overshadowed by Heathcliff in his father's affections and thus initiates his revenge on his childhood rival. Any mention of Heathcliff is “enough to rouse [Hindley] in… hatred” and Hindley punishes him by taking away his educational and social privileges and forcing him to lead the life of a servant. Hindley’s actions demoralize Heathcliff by separating him from Catherine and stripping him of his status as an equal. “[Heathcliff’s] childhood’s sense of superiority [is] faded away,” which gives Hindley a sense of triumph over his nemesis. Clearly, Hindley is successful in his campaign to degrade and isolate Heathcliff; however, it inevitably comes back to haunt him. The combination of his repressed guilt and the untimely death of his wife cause Hindley to start drinking and gambling to ease the pain of his internal struggle. Eventually, his unhealthy lifestyle causes Hindley to degenerate into madness and he dies a “worse and … weaker man” than Heathcliff. Ultimately, Hindley injures himself more than he injures Heathcliff in his pursuit of vengeance.

Isabella also plays a part in the vicious cycle of revenge by condemning Heathcliff for her sorrows and seeking vengeance against him for breaking her heart. Her mere presence galls Heathcliff into abusing her. Isabella then learns she “[can] taste the delight of paying wrong for wrong” by purposely irritating him. She is thrilled when her actions prove fruitful. Isabella “succeed[s] in rousing his rage a pitch above his malignity.” Isabella then flees from Heathcliff, hoping to aggravate him further. Heathcliff’s exasperation over her departure is comforting to Isabella since it is her primary goal; however, her sense of victory is quickly overshadowed by her isolation and death. Isabella realizes it is “impossible [she] can ever be revenged” because in her attempt to pay Heathcliff back for the misery he has caused her, she has brought about her own destruction and “cannot forgive him.” While



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