Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff is epitomised throughout Wuthering Heights as a vengeful character, who becomes corrupted through his overwhelming jealousy and his rejection from Catherine. Rather than a protagonist of an admirable disposition, Heathcliff rebels against social niceties and plots against other characters to create the central conflict. However, Bronte allows the responder to sympathise with him, as his flaws are the consequence of his traumatic childhood and the tyranny Hindley Earnshaw enacts on him. Heathcliff is not a hero in the tradition of ‘saving the day’ rather he conforms to the concept of the Byronic hero. He is a moody and cynical character, implacable in revenge, though the responder admires him from his strong and moving affection; it is his love of Catherine which makes him human.
Heathcliff’s marriage to Isabella is much the same as Catherine’s marriage to Edgar, as both are facades to mask their actual feelings and increase their social standing. Catherine uses her marriage to attain economic prosperity and an increased social standing, whilst Heathcliff uses his to take revenge against Catherine and Isabella, with prospects to acquire possession of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. “’The first thing she saw me do, on coming out of the Grange was to hang up her little dog; and when she pleaded for it he first words I uttered were a wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except one… But no brutality disgusted her… I’ve sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention, in my experiments on what she could endure, and still she creeps shamefully cringing back!” Bronte casts Heathcliff as a vengeful and cold hearted, through his treatment of Isabella and yet she continues to stand by him. Literary critic, Joyce Carol Oates, associates this with the responder’s perception of him, who continue to believe that Heathcliff cannot be harboring only a vengeful disposition, and theorises him as person corrupted by the...
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