What is the significance of Hindley Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Hindley tries to dehumanise Heathcliffe. In the novel 'Wuthering Heights ' by Emily Bronte, it is not difficult for Hindley Earnshaw to dehumanhise Heathcliffe even further than he already is as a homeless destitute street urchin. In front of his father this is difficult, but Hindley takes every secret, covert opportunity he can as a child to get to him. He goads and torments him when he thinks the father isn't looking. Later, when Hindley is master of the house, the sadistic attacks become even easier as Heathcliffe becomes dependent on Hindley for a home, and for contact with Cathy.However, ever watchful and observant, Heathcliffe has noticed Hindley's Achilles Heel - and he waits his chance with terrifying patience. As Hindley begins to descend into the weakness and vulnerabilty of a dissolute life, Heathcliffe is watching in the wings and comes back to finish the job. He encourages Hindley to descend further into a vicious circle of debt - and then takes everything. The whole Cathy however,eludes him.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Hindley is the antagonist to Heathcliff in the early years.  In the Book "Wuthering Heights" Heathcliff is brought home by Hindley's father to be raised as a brother to Hindley and his sister Catherine Ernshaw.  Hindley does not like Heathcliff from the begining.  He is jealous over him and does not like that he is a gypsy child.  To make matters worse, Heathcliff wins the affection of Hindley's sister.

Hindley gets sent away to school and while there he meets and marries a woman he loves.  His father dies and they move back to Wuthering Heights.  He takes over as heir to the estate.  His first course of action is to demote Heathcliff to stable boy.  He verbally abuses him and refuses to allow him to be given anything other than what a lowest servant could expect.  In addition, Hindley supports the idea of Catherine having a realtionship with Edward Linton.

Hindley's wife has a child but dies in labor.  Hindley is shocked and becomes an alcoholic.  He is abusive to the boy.  Heathcliff returns to seek revenge on Hindley. After Heathcliff obtains his revenge, Heathcliff becomes the antagonist.

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