The best example of revenge is Heathcliff’s treatment of Catherine for her betrayal and marriage with Edgar. He separated her daughter from Edgar and was cruel to her afterward. Other examples of vengeance include Hindley’s hate of Heathcliff and Heathcliff’s maltreatment of Hindley’s son, Hareton.
The theme of revenge is one of the most important ones in Emily Brontë’s novel. The majority of acts of vengeance are concerned with Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by Mr. Earnshaw. As soon as Heathcliff takes up residence in Earnshaw’s house, he becomes the object of Hindley’s hatred. Hindley is Mr. Earnshaw’s son, and he is dissatisfied with the fact that his father loves an orphan, Heathcliff, more than his son.
Hindley treats Heathcliff as if he were a servant. Heathcliff leaves the house only to come back later and take revenge on Hindley. Hindley goes bankrupt and dies, and Heathcliff becomes the owner of Hindley’s lands. Heathcliff also adopts Hindley’s son, Hareton, and oppresses him as the boy’s father treated young Heathcliff. For example, he uses him as a servant and does not let him learn. That is why Hareton grows up uneducated.
However, the most important act of revenge in the novel is Heathcliff’s vengeance on Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff and Catherine grew up together in Mr. Earnshaw’s house. Over time, they developed affection toward each other. However, Catherine is selfish and arrogant, and she tortures the men who love her. Once, Heathcliff overhears Catherine say that it would “degrade” her to marry him. This phrase, along with Hindley’s maltreatment, makes him leave the house at Wuthering Heights.
When Heathcliff returns, he finds out that Catherine has married Edgar Linton. Heathcliff feels that he should take revenge on those who hurt him. His plan of vengeance is to marry Elizabeth Linton, Edgar’s sister. By doing so, Heathcliff wants to hurt Edgar and evoke jealousy in Catherine. However, Catherine soon dies while giving birth to her daughter, Cathy, and Heathcliff is dissatisfied with his revenge. Therefore, he continues his vengeance, but this time, the object of his plans is Catherine’s daughter.
Heathcliff’s next plan of revenge is to arrange for a marriage between Cathy and his son, Linton. This marriage is intended to separate Cathy from her father, Edgar. Since Edgar once took Heathcliff’s beloved woman away from him, now Heathcliff wants Edgar to survive the same loss.
Yet, not only Edgar suffers because of this marriage. Cathy also does not seem happy living in Heathcliff’s house. There, she is subject to maltreatment, sometimes even violence. For example, one scene of Heathcliff’s violence toward Cathy is depicted in Chapter 27. “He seized her with the liberated hand, and… administered with the other a shower of terrific slaps on both sides of the head.” Thus, Heathcliff’s obsession with revenge was so intense that it expanded to the next generation.
The reason for Heathcliff’s obsession with revenge is that it brings him joy and satisfaction. Therefore, as soon as vengeance stops amusing him, he is no longer interested in harming others. In Chapter 33, Heathcliff loses his desire for revenge. “I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.” With Heathcliff, the cycle of revenge is broken.