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Discuss the portrayal of Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw in 'WutheringHeights'. Are they products of nature or nurture?

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Discuss the portrayal of Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw in 'Wuthering Heights'. Are they products of nature or nurture? I am going to look at the nature and nurture of both Hareton Earnshaw and Heathcliff, of Emily Bront�'s 'Wuthering Heights', and try to decide whether these two characters are products of their nature or their nurture. A person's nature is the way they are born, their 'raw state of mind', the parts of their character unaffected by outside influence. A person's nurture is the way they are brought up, and they way they are influenced and shaped by society. The Lintons and Earnshaws are part of the Gentry class of Victorian England; they are both landowning families, fairly high up in the class hierarchy. But the genetic natures of the families are entirely different: the Lintons are well behaved, subdued, spoilt, steady, sensible and arrogant; in comparison, the Earnshaws are strong willed, moody, generous, free spirited, easily influenced, laid back and non-formal. The nurture of the characters is connected very strongly to social status: Heathcliff is denied social status initially by his birth and subsequently by Hindley, which creates great hatred in Heathcliff: this denial of status is perceived much more seriously than what we consider serious today. Catherine chooses Edgar over Heathcliff for reasons of social status, even though she and Heathcliff are so similar. Hareton is also denied social status, which turns his attitudes against the Gentry class and creates rifts between him and other characters: for example, it makes Cathy and Linton, who would be his equals, look down on him. Social status is so important to the characters it is used as a weapon against enemies, and a tool for becoming more self-aware. The first time Lockwood meets Heathcliff he is very aware of his suspicious and defensive nature: 'the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with', 'his deep black eyes withdraw so suspiciously'. ...read more.


This could then be attributed to either genetic nature, or the pride that Joseph instilled in him of his family background. Hindley's influence on Hareton is not long lasting, as he dies when Hareton is still young. But the effect that he does have on Hareton is important, as it affects Hareton's relationship with Heathcliff: Hareton finally considers Heathcliff his father; if Hindley hadn't treated him so badly as a child he might think more of his true father. Hareton is subject to the extreme violence of his father Hindley at regular intervals, violence heightened by the death of his mother, Frances: Hindley 'grew desperate: his sorrow was of the kind that will not lament...he cursed and defied...and gave himself up to reckless dissipation.' Hindley was so unhappy he took to gambling and alcoholism, and became very violent to members of the house: 'The servants could not bear his tyrannical conduct long: Joseph and I were the only two that would stay.' Hindley was not only violent towards the servants; Hareton was also subject to it, once Hindley even tried to kill him. 'Kiss me Hareton!...By God, as if I would rear such a monster! As sure as I'm living, I'll break the brat's neck.' He then carried Hareton upstairs and held him over the banister; Hareton fell down, but he was saved by Heathcliff. This has a profound effect on Hareton; 'He attempted to touch the child, who, on finding himself with me, sobbed off his terror directly..."He hates you- they all hate you."' Apart from the immediate effect of Hindley's actions, Hareton is not left with anything of his father: He is only five when his father dies so the memory of him cannot be strong in adulthood, and he doesn't have Wuthering Heights under his control which is the legacy that Hindley would have given him. Heathcliff's nurturing of Hareton is much more profound. ...read more.


So although Heathcliff's outlook and manner are a result of his nurture, they are there as part of his nature too: nurture affects Heathcliff's nature, heightening parts of it and toning down others. When considering Hareton's nature and nurture, it changes dramatically over time. For a great part of his life he is a product of his nurture: he speaks and dresses as a common labourer, which is the role created by Heathcliff for him; he is rude and uneducated, also signifying his upbringing with Joseph and Heathcliff. The desire for revenge in Heathcliff is what affected Hareton's life so greatly: without this, he would have been 'the gentleman of the neighbourhood', not a farm labourer. Joseph's nurturing also affects how Hareton develops as an adult: he is spoilt and the lack of discipline in the household heightens the lack of social awareness in Hareton. When Cathy comes to live at the Heights Hareton is introduced to a new kind of nurture: this changes Hareton's personality. He becomes gentler and has more awareness of people around him- Cathy gives him education, but also the gift of friendship and love which enables Hareton to become a more complex character with greater respect not only from other people, but of other people too. In Heathcliff's death, Hareton can become what he was always supposed to be. Even though Hareton is affected very greatly by his nurture, we see his nature too. We see his pride, his passion and sensitivity; we see that he is very close to nature: all of these things are genetic character traits, visible in Hareton's father and aunt, Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw. With Heathcliff, his nurture enhances parts of his personality, whereas in Hareton's nurture, his nature is dulled and moulded so it is less extreme. This is done by denying Hareton of experience. At the end of the novel, Hareton is very much a product of his nature; Cathy's nurturing allows this to change. ?? ?? ?? ?? Emily Robinson 10-1 - 1 - ...read more.

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