Nature vs. Nurture in Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights".

Essay by roochaHigh School, 10th grade August 2005

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The story of Heathcliff, the sadistic protagonist of Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" is so upset that Edgar Linton does not want his lovely daughter, Cathy, to hear it. Heathcliff and Cathy, two prominent characters in the novel, interact in the second half of the novel. Heathcliff's passages reveal that the tortured character comes about from a childhood without the care of parents (33) while Cathy's goodness (164) reflects her being raised by a loving father. The different supervision each character experienced while growing up is reflected by their behavior, showing that nurture is a greater factor over one's personality than nature.

Beginning her description of Heathcliff with the lowly word "degradation", Nelly, the narrator, tells Lockwood how Heathcliff and Catherine (the mother of Cathy) grow more reckless daily without parental guidance. Nelly recalls these events right before Catherine is injured and stays at Thrushcross Grange for five weeks. Nelly also said that Heathcliff and Catherine "promised...

to grow up rude as savages." The punishments the two received from Joseph and the Curate, Nelly notes, haven't helped her increase the "small power" she holds over the two, due to the lack of parental guidance. It is also important to note some of the foreshadowing that occurs here: Heathcliff's return alone in the rain foreshadows his demise. His lack of respect for the church also symbolizes his lack of will and later on immense greediness. Bronte's genius shines throughout this passage, mixing savagery, love, symbolism, and foreshadowing all in one page.

Nelly's description of Cathy is spoken on a very positive note, including many of the same devices seen in Heathcliff's passage. She says that Cathy has not seen or even heard of any bad deeds except for her "slight acts of disobedience", and that Cathy is "amazed at the blackness of...