How Does Emily Bronte Present the Character Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights?

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How does Emily Bronte present the character Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights? Consider the narrative voice and Bronte’s language choices.

In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is portrayed in a certain way which changes drastically throughout the novel. The way in which others perceive him differs and gradually changes as the novel progresses. The reader is not provided with enough information on his background to know enough about his former life. We only become aware of whom he really is, later on in the novel when he narrates for himself. Wuthering Heights centres around the story of Heathcliff. Nelly’s story begins with his introduction into the Earnshaw family, his vengeful machinations drive the entire plot, and his death ends the book. The desire to understand him and his motivations has kept countless readers engaged in the novel. She admits that at his introduction to the family, she took an immediate disliking to him. This is revealed when she says, “but Hindley hated him, and to say the truth I did the same”. This makes it clear that Heathcliff did not give off a good first impression through the verb “hated”. The first paragraph of the novel provides a vivid physical picture of him, as Lockwood being the narrative voice describes how his “black eyes” withdraw suspiciously under his brows at Lockwood’s approach. The description of “Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire...” Heathcliff's appearance reveals both his ambiguous racial background through the adjective “dark skinned” and his attempt to elevate himself socially through the use of the nouns “manners” and a “gentleman” suggesting his attempt of fitting within the society. The phrase “Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living” highlights that fact that he acquires the property, he can never change his...
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