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Race in Wuthering Heights

Though Bronte’s novel tends to be regarded as one of the greatest romance novels, which is true in relation to the style of the romantic writers who focused on aspects of nature, while less attention is given to the racial aspects, prevalent throughout the novel. Heathcliff is constantly referred to as dark skinned, a moor, gypsy, and an irregular black man. During the period in which the novel is set, Mr. Earnshaw makes a trip to Liverpool, one of the largest slave trading areas in Britain, and arrives home with Heathcliff. He tells his children that he found "it" in the streets and did not know to whom he belonged.His lineage is unknown, and even his name is bestowed upon him by Mr. Earnshaw. His description connotes him as an "other," due to his dark skin, babbled language, and eyes as black as night. Most people overlook the issues of race in the novel, and even when reviewing the numerous film adaptations, not until 2011, was Heathcliff depicted as a black man. Is there plausibility to this theory? Was Heathcliff a slave purchased by Mr. Earnshaw? Or, could Heathcliff have possibly been a child of Mr. Earnshaw, of mixed race, whom he could not admit as his familial bond?

  • Heathcliff is introduced to readers by Mr. Earnshaw “as a gift from God; though it's as dark almost as if it came from the devil” Bronte makes a clear distinction between Heathcliff and the others through the color of his skin and right from the beginning there is a connection between Heathcliff and the devil.The association between the darkness of his skin and ideas of the devil suggests some level of racism. racism is obviously comprehensible in the whole of novel.we see how he is depicted as a rebellious man. in the novel, we can find many hints of race and racism issues. – Elahe Almasi 5 years ago
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  • Good point. Yet, not all people viewed this novel as such. If you attempt to research "racism and wuthering heights," you will find that there was no literary criticism dedicated to this topic until the past 20 years. I agree with your assertions and feel similar to you, but there are those who do not, and that's the factor that makes it a good, substantial, debatable topic. – danielle577 5 years ago
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  • I just read Wuthering Heights for the first time (I'm aged 68) and was amazed at its rawness and psychological cruelty, not entirely believable, though gripping to read. It seems obvious to me that this story erupted from the fevered, subconscious, repressed fear of "the other" in a young woman of (inevitably for her time) limited experience of life beyond the hearth. Heathcliff, whose "bad blood" automatically makes him a usurper of all that is "good"; that's racism, right there! – FrancesT 3 years ago
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