To What Extent Is Heathcliffe a Protagonist

Topics: Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, Ralph Fiennes Pages: 3 (1151 words) Published: October 2, 2012
Explore the character of Heathcliff as an example of the Gothic protagonist as introduced to the reader in chapter 1-9.

Within Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte displays the conventional elements of a gothic protagonist through Heathcliff’s dark, brooding character. He exceeds his own moral thresholds and displays intense, exaggerated emotion to the reader. The characterisation of Heathcliff as an evil dark character may convince readers that Brontë could almost be characterizing him as Satan. For example, Heathcliff’s presents himself as having ‘obdurate pride and steadfast hate’ which is a clear representation of him as a Miltonic character. Heathcliff’s brutality and ability to commit the immoral are what place him in the category of what is considered to be an archetypal gothic protagonist of the novel. However Heathcliff has an innate downfall, which some may consider to prevent him from being the stereotype of a gothic protagonist and could leave the reader to consider him as the classic gothic anti-hero.

Heathcliff has been greatly considered to be a gothic protagonist as throughout the novel there are constant references of Heathcliff to Satan. He is repeatedly classed, as a Miltonic protagonist “the waste and the wind” is where Heathcliff is most at home. As a character, he is seductive in his power and Brontë portrays many Miltonic features through Heathcliff, although there are also man representations of him being perceived as admirable, which leaves us to discuss whether he is a true archetypal gothic protagonist or whether her only portrays various features from this classic archetype. From within Heathcliff’s first explanation, he is displayed to us as non-human and we are given a sense that he is ordained “to govern, not to serve” (Hindley) although he is older than him, which is almost a direct reflection of Satan from John Milton’s epic poem; Paradise lost. His first description is as a ‘dark-skinned gypsy.’ This therefore gives no...
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