How Heathcliff is similar to the Mad King in Percy Shelley’s “England in 1819”.

When I was reading yesterday’s reading, many instances described in the book led me back to Percy Shelley’s poem England in 1819. The poem describes an old, dying, and mad king who is oppressing the British people. In a similar way, Heathcliff is sucking the life out of those who are living in his house, and all of those who come into contact with him. Shelley writes, “Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know, / But leech-like to their fainting country cling, / Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow” (Shelley 4-6). This to me could describe his relationship to Isabella, who he abused until she died young, leaving behind a child. This could also describe his relationship to his son Linton, who is also dying, and is being subjected to his abuse in his house. This can be seen when Nelly Dean thinks, “I could not picture a father treating a dying child as tyrannically and wickedly as I afterwards learnt Heathcliff had treated him, to compel this apparent eagerness; his efforts redoubling the more imminently his avaricious and unfeeling plans were threatened with defeat by death” (Bronte 259). Here, Nelly Dean is saying exactly what Percy Shelley was describing in his poem: the closer to death the ‘king’ gets, the more he takes it out and tries to rejuvenate with the blood of the young, poor, and innocent. Shelley’s poem, which was written for a massacre, goes on to say, “A Senate — Time’s worst statute unrepeal’d, / Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may / Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day” (Shelley 14-16). With this line, Shelley is saying that all of the laws and civic rights meant to protect them are nonexistent. This relates to Heathcliff’s relationship with the children living in his care: there are no civic rights in his house: all tenants are subject to slave labor and abuse.

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