The Persecution of Children in Withering Heights and Throughout the Victorian Era

This chapter of Wuthering Heights reminded me of the poems and short readings about the persecution of children during this era. In Wuthering Heights, as a result of the men’s attempt at gaining money, power and land, multiple children are displaced, mistreated and abused. For example, Hareton is barely raised, illiterate, and made to seem less worthy than Linton. Cathy is tricked and purposefully made to feel very guilty and at fault for Linton’s illness. Linton is taken from a loving home at Thrushcross Grange to a treacherous environment at Wuthering Heights so that Heathcliff can inherit Linton’s money. The children in the novel rarely have mothers, and if they do they die early in their lives–it seems like these mothers cannot survive in an environment so dominated by this toxic masculinity. This ill-treatment of children by men leads to many issues in the children including sickness, emotional problems, self-hatred, violence, etc. This mistreatment of children by men can be paralleled by the mistreatment of children by the government during the industrial revolution in England. As demonstrated by the poetry we previously read, during the Victorian Era the government turned a blind eye to the horrors of children’s participation in the dangers of chimney sweeping. In further research I found that typically chimney sweepers were either orphan boys chosen to be chimney sweeps or were sold by destitute parents to a chimney master. The young boys would work from early morning to night and were forced to climb through the chimneys in exchange for a place to sleep, food, and water. Similarly to multiple children in Wuthering Heights, chimney sweeper children are not loved by a family, raised, given attention or nurtured. Like the children in Wuthering Heights, these chimney sweeper children suffered greatly at the hands of their elders.

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