Byronic Hero

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Sammy Wickert
September 21, 2010

Heathcliff-Villain or Romantic Hero?

Although Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights seems purely villainous, he is not. Heathcliff has his redeeming qualities. His undying devotion to Catherine is one and acts of self betterment are another. However, his acts of cruelty and revenge make some think otherwise. Heathcliff’s dedication to Catherine is an obvious positive quality of his. When Heathcliff originally came to Wuthering Heights, he was disliked and shunned by both Catherine and her brother. She and Heathcliff became fast friends though and he adored her. “The boy would do her bidding in anything, and his only when it suited his own inclination” (Bronte 41). Despite the fact that Mr. Earnshaw adored Heathcliff, Heathcliff was more loyal to his childhood friend, Catherine. This shows that Heathcliff was devoted to Catherine, even from a young age. “Two words would comprehend my future-death and hell… after losing her” (Bronte 144). Heathcliff did not want to live if Catherine was not in his life. As long as he did live with her out of his life, he would detest every moment of it. After Catherine’s death, Heathcliff begged for her to haunt him as a ghost and in his last days he was almost giddy, knowing he would be with his love once again. Heathcliff always worked to improve himself. After Mr. Earnshaw dies, his son, who loathes Heathcliff, degrades him to servant status. The first instance of Heathcliff trying to improve himself is after Catherine arrives back from her five week stay at Thrushcross Grange. “Nelly, make me decent, I’m going to be good” (Bronte 54). Heathcliff feels like he needs to act and appear more proper to fit in with Catherine and her new friends. His plan fell short when he was scolded for being on the same floor as the dinner party. This shows that Heathcliff’s previous standing in the Earnshaw household as the prized son would be impossible to regain. Another occasion of Heathcliff...
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