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Discuss The Representation Of Children In "Wuthering Heights".

1618 words - 6 pages

The child characters in the books that we have read for this course are, to me, very interesting characters, each possessing different qualities. I found it quite easy to relate to most of the child characters; however, one character which I found it difficult to understand is that of Heathcliff in the novel "Wuthering Heights". Heathcliff is completely different from any other child character in any of the books that I have read for this course. Although he may be similar to them in his isolation, he is completely different psychologically.From the moment that Heathcliff enters the Earnshaw's home, he is viewed as an outsider. Nobody quite knows what to make of him, and there is a certain element of fear surrounding him. He is not referred to as a human child - when we first meet him in the novel he is referred to as 'it'. (Wuthering Heights, E. Bronte, Penguin Popular Classics, England, 1994, p45). Mr. Earnshaw, even though he possesses some kind of sympathy and love for this child, describes 'it' as being 'as dark almost as if it came from the devil'. (Wuthering Heights, p.45). He is different to the other children in his physical appearance - described by Nelly Dean as a 'dirty, ragged, black-haired child', and he is also different in the way that he acts and the way that he speaks - 'it only stared round, and repeated over and over again some gibberish that nobody could understand'. (Wuthering Heights, p.45). It is significant to note that Mr. Earnshaw came across this 'gipsy brat' in the streets of Liverpool. At the time in which this novel was written, industrial towns like Liverpool were often compared to hell because they were threatening, dark, miserable and smoky. William Blake, in his poem Jerusalem, referred to England's 'dark Satanic Mills', which suggests that the reason that Heathcliff is seen as being like the devil is because he came from this 'dark Satanic' place. Even so, Mr. Earnshaw is adamant that Heathcliff be treated the same as his other children, much to the horror of everybody else in the house. He is even left on the stairs on his first night in the house in the hope that he will run away.I found Heathcliff's entrance into the Earnshaw's household and their first impressions of him instantly grabbed my attention. The way in which the story is told allows us to have an insight into how the various characters viewed this strange child. The adult's first impressions of Heathcliff differed from those of the children. The adults seemed quick to dismiss him while the children seemed somewhat curious. He is despised at first by everybody except the master - Catherine's first reaction to him is to spit in his face. However, as the novel progresses, we see how her perceptions of him change, and indeed, how Heathcliff emerges as one of the most prominent characters of the novel.At first, I thought Heathcliff would be a quiet, shy, unobtrusive child and I even sympathised for him. It seemed like he didn't really fit in and that...

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