Analysis of Heathcliff Character in “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte
There were many successful works in the history of English literature, but there was a woman that has presented one of the most significant works. Emily Bronte has presented “Wuthering Heights” a work that presented a significant plot and characters. Heathcliff was one of the main characters in the work, which his role importance made the novel change with each stage of his development. He has made the story about love, revenge, and ghosts with his relationship with Catherine in her life and after her death. Heathcliff was a victim of his beloved, time, class, and other characters, but he has changed to be the executor of the novel at later stages.
The main role of Heathcliff was of an orphan and a homeless boy, who was hated by all the people around him. Even the man that saved him from his misery was seeing him as “it’s as dark almost as if it came from the devil”. The poor boy was not able to speak and he was treated badly by Catherine and Hindley, who were not ready to accept a stranger in their room “They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room”. So, he was deserted to die in the streets by his family and the new family was not ready to accept him. However, since that moment a prolonged enmity arises between Hindley and Heathcliff. Hindley was victimizing Heathcliff because he has taken his father’s care and feelings, which turn Hindley into a monster using harsh words to describe Heathcliff as “Gipsy, beggarly interloper, imp of Satan, and poor fatherless child”. The growing-up of both of them increased the hatred and Hindley’s tyranny increased making Heathcliff a servant in the house and a laborer outside it. “He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead”. However, the cruelest deed was separating him from Catherine and making him lose his trust in his beloved and in himself too. Also, he has played an important role in making Catherine think of Linton as her best choice because Heathcliff has become so degenerated by her brother.
On the other hand, the social classification and the nature of life in that time have made Heathcliff a victim of his society. Heathcliff was deserted by his family because they may not have the ability to feed him or he might be an illegal child. The little kid was left in the streets and there were no one that could tell his family or origin, which made him like an animal thrown in the street to die of hunger and cold “starving, and houseless”. However, he did not have the right to be treated as a human because of his low origin and color, which made the servants treat him as a low creature. Nelly, Joseph, and Robert saw him negatively, but the Lintons’ servant was the harshest in his attitudes and words ” Hold your tongue, you foul- mouthed thief, you! you shall go to the gallows for this. Moreover, he was treated as a servant, which made Hindley keep him away from education, religion, and good life. The social class made him lose any chance to be with Catherine as a lover or a husband. Catherine herself has seen him in the light of his position as degenerating her “if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff”. Moreover, it has prevented him from being with her as a rich man because her husband saw him as inferior to his social place and his wife’s too. Therefore, society was his main enemy, which made him attack all its representatives later “the dominating weapons of society destroy Heathcliff”.
However, Catherine, his beloved, has been his main executor through the novel and in many different ways. Catherine has treated him like an animal as a kid spitting on him because of the loss of her gift. Also, she refused his presence with them in the room and sent him out to sleep on the stairs. The second stage was in his friendship with her and being away from him because of her brother’s orders. The accident at the Grange made her character change and to be aware of the differences between their natures and their positions. She has started to see him as inferior and different from the Lintons in shape and attitudes. She victimized him knowing that he has nothing to do because her brother has done that to him “how very black and cross you look! and how – how funny and grim! But that’s because I’m used to Edgar and Isabella Linton”. Catherine ignorance of the presence of Heathcliff in the second room made her victimize him in the harshest way that a person could hurt another. She has told Nelly that Linton has proposed to her and that led her to make comparisons between him and Heathcliff. The words he has heard have destroyed his dignity and made him see himself the same way the others saw him. Even though Heathcliff did not lose his love to Catheirne and his changed was related to everything, but her “Heathcliff hard- ens into a sinister Byronic figure whose heart is closed to everyone but Catherine”. She has made him suffer after his return as a wealthy man and she did not stop degenerating him as she told Isabella that he is “an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone”. Her final blow was leaving him alone in the world and passing away to the other world “while you are at peace I shall writhe in the torments of hell?”.
Therefore, Heathcliff has changed to become a merciless creature that has no heart to show any feelings toward anyone. However, he was not playing the role of a victim through the novel because he was doing his role in torturing the others too. He has started his revenge from Hindley in his inner soul and mind before his departure as he told Nelly “I’m trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don’t care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do!”. Hindley was the main criminal in making him far from Catherin and in degenerating his position at the house. Heathcliff was not a merciful man, which made him pay Hindley back the price in person and with his son. He has turned him broke and took all his properties making him a visitor in his old house. He has treated to beat him too the same way he did to him without any kind of mercy “The ruffian kicked and trampled on him, and dashed his head repeatedly against the flags,” which was giving him satisfaction. Moreover, he has taken Hareton as his new victim and made him live the same experience he had lived. He was harsh to him and made him suffer the same way “Now, my bonny lad, you are MINE! And we’ll see if one tree won’t grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it!”. The Lintons were essential in his revenge plan and Isabella has fallen in his love and he took the chance to make her miserable and to make her brother feel degenerated. He has treated her badly and forced her to escape with his wild nature “I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death, and flung it back to me”. His final victims were his own son Linton and Linton himself, who died because of grief and pain caused to them by Heathcliff’s tyranny.
However, he has been seen as a hero in the novel because of the feelings he had and the life he has lived. Therefore, he acne be justified in different ways and to be redeemed for his ill-treatment to the others. Heathcliff was a product of his society and its harshness, which turned him into a monster. Heathcliff has been treated in a degenerating way that made him lower than servants and any other creature because the dogs of the wealthy families were treated better than him. Moreover, he was deprived of his rights and the teaching of religions, which means that being a devil or a vice figure, was not his fault. They did not guide him to the way of the right, which made his choice to be mean and evil. Moreover, he was doing his role as a literary device that changes the story with its development as if he was the main character, the plot, and the rising action. The readers have loved him and they “choose to minimize or justify Heathcliff’s consistent delight in malice in order to elevate him to the status of a hero”. Also, he was a great lover that his feelings were greater than his ability to hold them back, which made his loss a severe one and caused such terrible reactions. He was avenging his feelings and that made his revenge look great and exaggerated too. However, his revenge turned the novel from a romantic one into a violent one. He has put all the characters under his mercy and made them pay the price of victimizing him each one in his turn. He made it the novle about supernatural powers with his haunting by Catherine’s ghost and even his presence with her in the Moors after death.
Therefore, he was the most important character in the novel because he was leading the actions and causing the change of incidents. The story has turned dull in his departure, but his return has turned on the feelings and changed the atmosphere of the novel. He was able to love without conditions and to revenge without mercy, which reflected a complicated character and a mysterious nature. He has loved Catherine, but he was betrayed, he sacrificed his happiness, but he was awarded by ingratitude. All of that made his revenge an inevitable result of the way he lived and the way others treated him through his life.
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