Characters’ Focus on Shortcomings in Great Expectations and Wuthering Heigts

In the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the main character Pip often focuses on his negative qualities and shortcomings more than his positive attributes and actions. This can be shown when he steals food for a suffering man and later reflects on the situation with guilt and unrest instead of realizing that he helped someone. He seems to have a strong moral compass that influences him to self-assess and will hopefully trigger an arc of self-realization and development throughout the novel. This can be contrasted by Heathcliff and compared to Hareton in Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is a character who cannot come to terms with his problematic tendencies and doesn’t come to terms with his emotions and moral compass. For example, he perpetuates the violence and neglect he experiences as a child instead of realizing that his resentment for Isabella and Hareton stems from the trauma he endured. Despite Heathcliff’s inability to look inward in the way that Pip begins to demonstrate in the first characters of Great Expectations, Hareton shows similar qualities of self-awareness. “His honest, warm, and intelligent nature shook off rapidly the clouds of ignorance and degradation in which it had been bred,” Bronte writes. Despite his upbringing, Hareton is able to reflect on it enough to not perpetuate it in the way that Heathcliff did.

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