Hareton serves as a painful, yet ultimately hopeful, representation of the cycles of abuse that have proliferated within and across the two estates. Like Cathy, Hareton also represents a rising generation that will break free from the shackles of generational trauma. He also serves as a contorted mirror of whichever parental figure has their hold over him. Under Hindley, Hareton becomes symbolic of Hindley’s squandered potential; ignored by his father, Hareton is left with nothing, and Wuthering Heights goes to Heathcliff.

Under Heathcliff’s “care,” however, Hareton becomes an echo of Heathcliff rather than Hareton, serving as a reminder of the abuse Heathcliff once endured at Hindley’s hands. While Heathcliff attempts to treat Hareton the same way the boy’s father once treated him, Hareton remains trapped in the manor that might have once been his, unable to read or write. Furthering his own stagnation is Hareton’s unwillingness to grow or change; he destroys his books when Cathy humiliates him, feeling angry and ashamed.

It would be easy for Hareton’s situation to end tragically, for his character to remain stagnant and abused until he begins to enact the same hurt on others, furthering the expectation set by his two father figures. Instead, the trauma cycle is broken when he and Cathy fall in love and marry. Not only are they freed from the roles into which they were forcibly cast, but as they take up residency in Wuthering Heights (Hareton’s name having been etched in place marks him as its inheritor), a new season can begin that Hareton, finally, can have a hand in forging.