“Your cruelty rises from your greater misery! Lonely like the devil envious of him? Nobody loves you nobody will cry for you when you die. ” These words are spoken to Heathcliff near to the end of “Wuthering Heights” by his once – servant Nelly Dean, one of the novels narrators. By this by this stage in the novel, Heathcliff is despised; his revenge has made him hated. Yet at the beginning of the novel, hen an orphan, we sympathise with him. What is the reader’s view of Heathcliff? Is he despised at all stages of the novel? Heathcliff was a young child with only one name. Mr.
Earnshaw adopted him from Liverpool and brought him back a “dirty, ragged, black-haired child” to “Wuthering Heights”. He lacked education and didn’t have a mother or a father. He was called a “dark, shik gypsy”. Although modern readers, are more sympathetic to Heathcliff. Readers sympathise with him at first, when Hindley mistreats him and he loses Cathy, but when he returns transformed, and his plan of vengeance begins to unfold, feelings change. Readers question his love for Cathy; Nelly says his love for Cathy is a “monomania”. Heathcliff’s name is generally surrounded with words like “hell”, “devil”, diabolical, infernal, and fiendish.
Worst of all, he’s unrepentant. “I’ve done no injustice,” he says at the end of the novel. This “ignoble” evil character loomed in the novel. People have seen Heathcliff in two very different lights: as a rebel, a friendless labourer is mistreated by the landed gentry. He loses his true love to a man with wealth and a higher social position. Heathcliff takes revenge by seizing control of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. In this view, his revenge is an assertion of his dignity as a human being: as a person committed to a higher love. When Heathcliff identifies himself with Cathy “I cannot live without my life!
I cannot live without my soul! ” This is not selfishness; he is describing a love that holds nothing back and he remains true to his love even when Cathy has betrayed him for Edgar. When he returns he plans to have revenge on Hindley and to “look in” at Thrushcross Grange and make sure Cathy is happy. But his suffering overwhelms him, and he starts to torment others, especially Isabella. His revenge is therefore a horrible deflection of his love for Cathy, and his greatest crime – and the source of all his later ones – is not to forgive her on her deathbed.
It is only when he finds himself reconciled to her spirit that he abandons his cruelty toward Hareton and the younger Cathy. Mr. Earnshaw loved Heathcliff and he gave him education and helped him grow up. Mr. Earnshaw died Hindley took over. Hindley stripped Heathcliff of his education away and Heathcliff was powerless to do anything. He was beaten and teased by Hindley not knowing that his anger was building inside and he was going to take his revenge, but when? “I shall pay Hindley back. I don’t care how long I wait … ” Many people have despised Heathcliff for many things but his revenge was the most important.
Heathcliff ad many friends and many foes, but one of the main character who hated Heathcliff and too Heathcliff wanted revenge on is, Hindley. This character was the most cruelness person towards Heathcliff. Readers who defend Heathcliff usually point to his mistreatment at Hindley’s hands. Hindley is evil, cruel, and dissolute; his cruelty can’t be deceived, but Hindley is also a victim – deprived of his father’s love by Heathcliff, this could be one of the reasons why Hindley treated Heathcliff the way he did. “Deprived him of the instructions of the curate”.
Hindley was deprived of Wuthering Heights by the craftiness of Heathcliff. People can say that Heathcliff is despised but could this be the cause of Hindley’s outrage towards him. When his father welcomed him in with open arms, Hindley was disgusted with the “the dark, slik gypsy” boy who his father loved so much. But all the time waiting for his time and that time canoe when Hindley’s father passed away and that’s when Heathcliff’s happy life changed dramatically. Hareton is the son of Hindley. Heathcliff took care of Hareton at “Wuthering Heights”.
This is perhaps why Hareton has some Heathcliff like qualities. He is rough, strong; foul-mouthed calls his father “Devil daddy”, brave, bad-tempered boy. Heathcliff himself compares his childhood to Hareton’s and finds much to admire. Heathcliff was making Hareton go through what he went through as a child. In the last chapters Hareton and the young Cathy tease each other. Maybe it is the young lover’s example that helps Heathcliff finally discover some strange kind of peace in his own love. Readers have noticed the way that Heathcliff treats Hareton.
He treats him as if he was one of his own. He also teaches him to swear and he tells him to disobey his natural father. Hareton calls his father “devil daddy”. He was being rude and started lying to Nelly. You could say that Heathcliff manipulated Hareton to be as rude as he was as a child and Heathcliff allows him to do what he pleases. So we could despise Heathcliff because of his treatment of Hareton, he does not behave like a father should. Isabella becomes in love with Heathcliff, and until then you assume she’s much like her brother.
Nelly says that Isabella is “a charming lady of eighteen; infantile in manners, though possessed of keen wit, keen feelings, and a keen temper, too, if irritated”. A shallow, weak creature, Isabella deceives herself into believing that Heathcliff loves her, and she marries him despite Edgar’s warnings. After they marry, when Heathcliff torments her, she rants and raves and speaks as fondly of revenge as does Heathcliff. When she can stand his abuse no longer, she leaves Heathcliff, displaying an unexpected strength of character, and goes off to London to have her baby.
Isabella sees how cruel Heathcliff really is. In fact, through Isabella’s story of life at “Wuthering Heights” we see the cruelty of Heathcliff at its worst. They run away from Thrushcross Grange he had hung the “half-bred bull dog” Throttler outside the Linton’s house. Running away with Isabella was a cunning plan because if Edgar doesn’t have a son the property of Thrushcross Grange goes to Heathcliff. Heathcliff has no sympathy for Isabella, she had left Thrushcross Grange with a romantic dissolution of love – expected him to be a romantic hero.
But she knew how violent he was. Isabella has hated Heathcliff but Edgar disowned his sister where by he will not talk to her. Her heart would always stay a Thrushcross Grange. “She’ll suit this house so much the better for not being over nice”. Heathcliff said this about Isabella. Characters have been trying to fit into the different houses all the way through the novel, in this case Isabella is not too nice so Heathcliff thinks that she is right for Thrushcross Grange. Nelly says she’s proud, and perhaps Cathy does want to be a great lady.
Or perhaps Cathy’s true desire is to free Heathcliff from Hindley’s clutches. If so, her plan is foolish; neither Heathcliff nor Edgar would have gone along with it. On the other hand, there is much evidence that Cathy is truly in conflict. She tells Ellen that Heathcliff’s return has reconciled her to God and humanity; yet she describes him to Isabella as a “pitiless, wolfish man. ” If Catherine married Edgar for reasons other than love – ambition, or a desire to help Heathcliff -why doesn’t she declare her love for Heathcliff on her deathbed?
Her passion is obvious, but it’s as complicated as ever. In a more conventional novel Catherine would be the heroine. Though her death comes before the midpoint of the story. Her capacity for love is so great that her spirit – if not her actual ghost – haunts the rest of the novel. Catherine and Heathcliff looked like a couple at the height of their love before Catherine’s marriage, but when they went over to Thrushcross Grange where Catherine was hurt by the dog everything changed. She was taken in and Catherine and Heathcliff gradually grew apart.
This is when Edgar came into her life and changed her dramatically. Catherine had become more of a higher-class then Heathcliff. Heathcliff still come to the window to see Catherine but things had change when he goes to see her. Heathcliff was watching with envy through the window of the Linton’s house. Watching the way Edgar and Isabella was treating her. Though she is pampered, treated fragilely looked after they nurtured her every when they swarm around her the honey suckles embracing the thorn not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles,
The way Catherine treated Heathcliff was underserved because Heathcliff was deeply in love with Catherine but she only wanted wealth, and desires, which only Edgar could provide. Edgar and Catherine got married. Heathcliff had gone away temporarily but came back “a tall athletic, well formed men with an upright carriage who looks intelligent and dignified”. When he goes to see Catherine, she becomes full of gladness and exquisite joy. Edgar see different to Cathy and still doesn’t like him.
There is a lot of information that point towards Heathcliff of why he is despise by readers but I have also looked at why he should be sympathised for him. If we look at the way Catherine treated Heathcliff she was just like him at the start of the novel “both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages”, they loved each other deeply. So this shows us Heathcliff has feelings. Also near the end of the novel where Catherine dies he wants to be buried with her. He get called “devil” “savage beast” by the characters in the novel. He was called these names because of the reactions he made towards the other characters.
Heathcliff was loved at the start of the novel by Mr Earnshaw who took him in and gave and welcomed him into his family, but the way he was treated after he died was disgraceful. He was stripped of his education but Catherine was good to teach him what she had learnt. We must have had some sympathy for him. “Is Mr Heathcliff a man? If so is he is mad “this is a quote is used by Isabella, but it is varied “Is he a human or a devil” I can strongly say that he is a human because he has feelings for people but he is also overwhelmed with anger, hatred and revenge.
I conclude my essay by agreeing with the reader’s views because all the evidence points towards the spiteful way of Heathcliff. The language used presents him as a savage but he shows he is capable of emotion love and also jealousy. I still hate the ways he has tried to correct his mistakes by using Hareton to get back at Hindley, the brute ness of hanging the dog from Thrushcross Grange. He married Isabella so he could gain control of Thrushcross Grange for his own revenge. Throughout the novel it is mostly about Heathcliff and his own revenge on characters.
I can understand why the early readers of the novel despised Heathcliff because of the words that Emily Bronte used. These words that she wrote “slut” were disgusted by the readers when the novel was first published because words like “slut” were not heard or said in those times. Heathcliff understandingly was one of the cruellest characters in Wuthering Heights and the English Literature (readers are intrigued by him). “I shall pay Hindley back. I don’t care how long I wait, if I can only do it. I hope he will not die before I do”