In "Wuthering Heights", why does Earnshaw favor Heathcliff over his own children?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Probably Earnshaw's preference of Heathcliff is a reflection of the state of England during the mid-1800's. Working conditions in the factories of the newly industrialized nation were horrific, and there was an increasing awareness of this fact. The notion of revolution was in the air; the American Revolution had ended with a colonial victory in 1781, and the French had revolted against their luxury-loving monarchy in the years after. The people of upper and middle-class England were well aware that the problems of their own depressed economy added to workers' increased dissatisfaction with appalling working conditions might lead to a less-than-peaceful resolution. Earnshaw's attitude toward Heathcliff probably represents a certain amount of empathy the British had for the poor, but we also have some evidence that Catherine and Hindley weren't that likeable to begin with. The day Earnshaw brought Heathcliff home, he had also brought presents for his children. However, Hindley's gift had broken on the journey, causing the child to throw a bawling tantrum, and Catherine, upon learning that her gift had been lost, spat upon Heathcliff to show her feelings about the situation.

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Wuthering Heights

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