Animals and Violence in Wuthering Heights
Author: Surridge, Lisa
Source: Bronte Society Transactions: The Journal of Bronte Studies, Volume 24, Number 2, October 1999 , pp. 161-173(13)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Animals — especially dogs — pervade Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff's pointer attacks Lockwood; the Lintons' dog mauls Catherine Earnshaw when she and Heathcliff spy on the Linton children; and Isabella watches Hareton hang a litter of puppies on a chair back. Yet Emily Brontë's novel does not participate in the sentimentality and anthropomorphism which, as Harriet Ritvo argues, underpinned the Victorians' treatment of animals. Wuthering Heights refutes many aspects of the Victon'an rhetoric of animality, with its implicit assumption of the superiority of humans over beasts; it relentlessly undermines language which devalues the 'brutal' in favour of the 'civilized'; finally, it anatomizes the social habit of pet-keeping, laying this bare as a mechanism for enacting power — the power of owner over property, and by extension, of ownership or control in the human sphere.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: October 1999