This statement can be deemed as true to a certain extent. However, all aspects of Heathcliff’s past and his frame of mind at those times, portray him in a very different light, as will be shown. We are introduced to Heathcliff in the first chapter, and given first impressions through Mr. Lockwood, who sees him as a ‘capital fellow. ‘ However, it must be remembered and noted that Mr. Lockwood is an ‘outsider’, having no knowledge of Heathcliff’s past at Wuthering Heights. The opinions and views expressed by Nelly Dean are more useful and reliable. Although she has no direct elationship with Heathcliff, she has established good relationships with other characters, for example ‘old’ Cathy. She had also been present when Heathcliff was a young boy, and had especially spent time with him when he had suffered from measles, along with Hindley and Catherine, who had complained much more, Nelly had noted, adding to her fondness of him.
Therfore, she is in the position to give us a fair opinion of him, and also the best narrator to use, as Bronte has in the beginning. To respond to the question, it is highly important to cover all aspects of the ay Heathcliff’s character is shown, and of his motivations in the situations he had been placed in. We are given a commentary by Nelly Dean, of Heathcliff’s past, from her perspective. There is no knowledge of who and where Heathcliff is from, adding an air of mystery to his character, and also making it harder to fully analyse his background. Upon arrival, he had been described in contradicting ways, both as ‘A gift from God,’ and also ‘A dirty ragged black-haired child. ‘ He also immediately divides the household upon arrival, so his entrance is a disturbance to the family.
Originally, both children dislike him, yet he wins over Catherine’s heart, as she seems to understand his energy, determination, and ruthless powers of endurance, especially to his stepbrother Hindley, who never failed to express his hatred towards him. Not only this, but after the death of Mr. Earnshaw, he is treated harshly by ‘old’ Catherine also. As young children, Heathcliff and the young Catherine had been left to roam free in the moors and so on, therefore spending vast amounts of time together, and eventually causing them to fall deeply in love with each other.
The ntensity of their elationship is described in full detail, by Bronte, and we are shown the beautiful, compassionate relationship that they share. Catherine describes it, using the symbols of earth and fire, enduring and elemental. However, when Catherine is made to spend five weeks in Thrushcross Grange, her feelings change, as she slowly but surely begins to fall in love with Edgar. This is when their once compassionate love, becomes destructive, as Heathcliff is still deeply in love with her, his emotions failing to change, even after her death, as we are shown by his thirst for revenge.
At this point, we are also shown the subtle differences between Thrushcross Grange, and Wuthering Heights. The splendid, cultivated and civilised atmosphere of the Grange is compared with the rough discipline of Wuthering Heights. This then defines the atmosphere in which Heathcliff has spent most of his life. Heathcliff’s mysterious character is then furthered when he vanishes for three years. We are given no information as to his whereabouts and his doings during this time. We are shown him leaving after overhearing his ‘beloved’ talking of how it would be degrading to marry him.
As he had spent this gap of time away, it would be expected that after 3yrs, being a fully grown rational adult, he would have had ample time to forgive Catherine and to have moved on with his life, just as she had, but he obviously still felt the same way, as he had returned after so long. Then it is revealed that he has returned for nothing but revenge on Edgar, who had ‘stolen’ the one he had doted on for so long. However, Heathcliff’s blinding love for Catherine, had clouded his mind, as he did not seem to understand or realise that Catherine had also fallen in love ith Edgar, so it was not entirely Edgar’s doing. If it had not been for Catherine, Edgar, being the feeble character he was, would not have pursued his love for her.
There is also no mention of Edgar deliberately trying to hurt Heathcliff in any way either. We are also shown Heathcliff in want of revenge towards Hindley. However, it must be understood that Hindley was but a young child when Heathcliff had been brought home, and was understandably jealous of this child, whom his father had wrongly favoured. He had felt deprived by his own father, and felt it only right that e be the more important one, as he was the real blood son. In this incidence, we are shown Heahcliff as coldblooded, yet passionate, when he unfairly harms other members of the family, to get revenge (Isabella and Hareton). Therefore, his acts here are unjust and irrational. His calculating characteristic is fully shown when he plots revenge on both Hindley and Edgar, achieving his aim in inheriting both properties, although he is legally an ‘outsider’. However, there may be a way in which his actions may be justified.
Love is a trong emotion that has baffled and captured many a generation. It can make us act inappropriately and brashly at times, although this is not an excuse. During his three years away, he may have agonized over his loss of Catherine, and left with a feeling of being betrayed by the one person whom he knew understood him, and so he thought, loved him more than anyone in his life. This must have been a very depressing, hurtful and bitter betrayal to deal with, and we are shown the intensity of his love, as we are shown his return after so long, with the same feelings towards her.
He had been driven to the extent where he wanted to get revenge on both Hindley and Edgar, at any cost, even if it involved hurting others. So deep is his love for Catherine, and in the same way he is feeling this hurt. HIS feelings and emotions had been disregarded by all those around him, he felt alone, and so then cheated and betrayed by them, especially Catherine. This may then justify his brash behaviour towards them. We also know that Heathcliff has no real belief in God, as he once tells Nelly of his desire to get revenge on Hindley, and she tells him that it is God’s esponsibility, but given the response, ‘God won’t have the satisfaction that I will. ‘
Here, we see him as being quite brutish and savage, not a man of God, but to please himself only. In conclusion to this question, I feel that his behaviour can be justified in many circumstances, but not all. However, we have not found his character to be redeemed. It is clear from all the examples stated, that Heathcliff only acted the way in which he did due to the way he had been treated in the past, and especially by those most close to him.
It is evident that he did not purposely want to hurt others, but his sole intentions were to get revenge, at any cost, and had come to the point where he was not interested or worried whether it would affect other innocent people or not. It is also possible to conclude that each of those he wanted revenge on, infact brought the tragedies on themselves, by their treatment of him in the past. If they had not have been so harsh with him in the past, he would not have wanted to get revenge on them, and so would not have gone to the extremes that they indirectly drove him to.
He had always been quite reserved when he was younger, and endured all that he was put through, but they pushed him to an extent, where he was so angry, hurt and upset, that he went as far as involving other members of the family, such as Isabella. Although Edgar had not physically harmed Heathcliff, unlike Hindley, he had battered him emotionally, by taking away his one joy and love, Catherine. His dislike of Heathcliff had also been evident from earlier on, for example, his insolent remarks when they visit Wuthering Heights with Catherine after the five weeks spent with her.
Therefore, I think that his character may not be redeemed, but however his actions in most circumstances can be justified to some extent, when he is both ‘coldblooded,’ and ‘calculating’. He shows other aspects of his character at this time also, for example, he was ‘coldblooded’, yet passionate when getting revenge on Hindley. Howvere, we are still left with the impression of Heathcliff as being brash, and coldblooded, although often provoked by emotions illustrated in this essay, and so to conclude, his character is therefore not redeemed, but at times, is justified.