Emily Bronte’s life was always surrounded by death and strict rules of the church. Whenever she looked out of her window she could see the church that her father was a priest at in front of her, and to the left the graveyard that went with the church. She was an isolated child and created imaginary worlds with her sisters: Anne and Charlotte for entertainment. She wrote only one novel (Wuthering Heights), which at the time was like nothing anybody had seen before. It is morbid, probably because of her close link to the death, and its central character is sinister and powerful. In the novel Bronte is almost dissident towards the church especially with Heathcliff. It was said by its reviewers any author of the work must be insane and barbaric and it took many attempts under different names before it was finally published.
Heathcliff without a doubt is the central character of the novel. He stands out from the rest with his sinister ways and even from the start when he is a child he is peculiar e.g. when Hindly bullies him because he feels Heathcliff is a minion Heathcliff does nothing. On completing the novel we know this is because he stores every piece of pain that others have caused him to make a plan for ultimate revenge on them all in later life. During his plan and through most of his life he is a very powerful character. Mr Earnshaw finds him in Liverpool, and Mr Earnshaw is the only person in the family who likes him, thus giving him a position to influence Earnshaw. During his plan for revenge we see his true power; he is capable of emotional and physical pain. Malevolent colossus is an accurate description of the way he acts as he takes his anger, pain and sufferance out on others.
We meet Heathcliff in the first chapter. He is the owner of Wuthering Heights a farm type building with lots of land and some other buildings. Mr Lockwood who is from the city is hiring one of the houses to live in for a while. Lockwood in Heathcliff’s eyes is a fool, and he doesn’t tolerate fools lightly. Lockwood describes the place as “…A perfect misanthropists heaven…” Misanthropist is not the word to describe Lockwood, misanthropist best fits Heathcliff who, when we first meet him is clearly separated from society, he has a lack for manners and is violent but still as much as it appears that Heathcliff is trying to make Lockwood dislike him, much the opposite happens. Lockwood admires him, he thinks he is intelligent and describes him as proud and morose. This is just a hint of the for coming story. In reflection it is civilised and generally normal.
“You’d better let the dog alone,’ growled Mr Heathcliff in unison, checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. ‘She’s not accustomed to be spoiled – not kept for a pet.’ Then, striding to a side door, he shouted again, ‘Joseph!'”
This shows Heathcliff’s violent streak irately stamping his foot to keep the dog in check and his power over people shouting on Joseph like he is his slave. He would appear to most to be intimidating with the stamping foot, shouting and little manners, especially in front of a guest. His language is very simple and in this it shows that he’s taking no messing from nobody. He runs on a you do as I say and when I say it system. Again showing his colossus power of people. It could be said that Heathcliff is such a strong character that he over shadows the rest of the novel’s characters. I personally don’t believe this. If it wasn’t for the other characters who caused him anguish he would never have had the chance to be so devilish and the way he is. The novel would probably just be a normal love story between him and Cathy.
As the story progresses we hear of how Heathcliff is banished to becoming a slave almost for Hindly after Mr Earnshaw dies. He can no longer see Cathy, which is a major part of his life. He strides along though, knowing that he will have is revenge on Hindly and is hopeful that Cathy’s attempts to change Hindly’s thinking of Heathcliff will get him back with his love. But when he hears her say to the maid, Nelly Dean, that she could never marry Heathcliff he was he runs away. He comes back years later with an athletic build, wealth, and dressed in dark clothes. His intentions…Very simply to win Cathy over. It’s too late. She marries Edgar Linton. Heathcliff is destrort and here we see him striding the novel as he pieces together his plans for revenge. He firstly marries Isabella Linton to get back at Edgar. Years previous Heathcliff and Cathy had been caught in a storm up by Thrush cross Grange (the Linton household). The Linton’s let Cathy in but set the dogs on Heathcliff. Cathy knows what Heathcliff is doing; she sees them as being one.
“He’d crush you, like a sparrow’s egg, Isabella, if he found you a troublesome charge…”
This shows that Cathy is well a were that Heathcliff is taking this marriage as it comes and doesn’t love Isabella at all but Isabella doesn’t think so. Cathy says, “If he found you a troublesome charge.” She knows very well that Heathcliff is going to do just that, break Isabella’s heart and coldly walk away leaving everyone to pick up the pieces of the pain that he has transferred from himself into her. When Heathcliff gets her to the Heights he treats her like she is some sort of African slave she tells people about her pain and this does exactly what Heathcliff wants. It causes Edgar to disown her. He refuses to visit her in the Heights and sends Nelly with letters from him because he is afraid. This again shows Heathcliff’s evilness and his ability to take everything he does in his stride.
“He’s a lying fiend, a monster, and not a human being!”
Catherine gave birth to a daughter of Linton’s, also Catherine. She died at birth. Heathcliff was devastated but in his mind he knew that he could now successfully get on with his destruction of the people he hated without any interruption from her. He started with Edgar. Edgar was a wealthy man, always had been, he also saw Heathcliff as a minion. After Catherine’s death Edgar solved his crux by turning to drink. Heathcliff saw this as a fantastic opportunity to crush him financially. He would get Edgar drunk and they would play cards for redicuolsly high amounts of money. Surprisingly enough Edgar didn’t win too often and was forced to remortgage his land with Heathcliff. He had effectively defenestrated his entire financial power.
“Oh, if God would but give me strength to strangle him in my last agony, I’d go to hell with joy.”
This shows us that Edgar knows, as he is also at his last stages of life what Heathcliff has done and regrets its, regrets it enough to be banished to hell with joy. His words are written as they have been slowly muttered e.g. if it was said with passion and lust one would expect to find exclamation marks after Oh and joy to emphases what has been said, but there is just a comma so it sounds like he is a weak pathetic man that Heathcliff would just laugh at.
Heathcliff had a son to Isabella; Linton as he is known is an outcast. He unlikeable and dislikes everyone. He detests living with his father in the Heights, he is left to wander and do anything he likes. Is never educated and at one point is found hanging puppy dogs in the garden when his mother comes to visit him. His shine that he always had even though was undoubtedly an unhappy child had gone. His beam had been replaced by clouds in his eyes. He was difficult to talk to and his mother suggests she leaves, he turns and looks at the Heights and pleads her to stay longer, even to go and find Heathcliff the man she detests with a passion and inform him of his son’s ill health. It is clear that he will die and in this we see a different side of Heathcliff, he is openly pleased about his son’s death.
“You would think I would be the devil himself to excite in such horror…”
Heathcliff says this in a sarcastic kind of way but it is obvious from the surrounding text that he does actually mean what he says. It shows again his sinister approach on him getting his revenge, his own son is dying before him and he is relatively pleased! His sarcastic tone is typical of him and he has every reason to be happy, he has just witnessed the death of another Linton.
The novel overall in my opinion is over rated. I don’t feel like I can relate myself to any of the characters or see myself feeling what they feel because I think the novel is out of date. I don’t like its dark morbid setting and the death and misery that pleases another human being, I feel that although in our modern time and age there has been a lot worse things written, like “A Clockwork Orange” the idea of that was to demote the idea of violence by showing immense acts of violence etc, but when you say: “Wuthering Heights, the novel about death and pain for one mans satisfaction I don’t like it. I firmly believe that Heathcliff is an evil man, by default. If Catherine had lived and married him he would never have been how he was. He knew he had nothing to live for as an orphan child in Liverpool and then on meeting Catherine he gets a new lease of life and something to live for, then that’s taken away from him and its like he’s the orphan on the streets of Liverpool again.