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English Practice Essay

By Zaphidah-Kanyi Mar 19, 2015 980 Words
English – Wuthering Heights Practise Essay

Isabella Linton asks Nelly, “Is Mr Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil? (p 136) Consider Heathcliff’s character in relation to Isabella’s question

Plan: Flow Chart
Topic: Heathcliff’s actions and behaviour are devilish, callous and malevolent towards others Agree somewhat, however his behaviour is provoked by bad treatment by others during his childhood Coping mechanism?

Central Argument/Intro:
Although Heathcliff is described by others as being a truly deplorable character, it clear that his behaviour is a direct reflection of the bad treatment that he suffered during childhood. Whilst Isabella is completely justified in her opinion and her characterization of him as a ‘devil’, her lack of insight into Heathcliff’s tortured past clouds her judgement. This paired with Nelly Dean’s bias opinion towards him, drives the reader to empathize with, and completely excuse Heathcliff’s actions – at any sign of a redemptive quality. His powerful and passionate relationship with Catherine serves this purpose – the reader see’s gruff Heathcliff in a vulnerable and ultimately loving light. Therefore, his bad relationships with others are easily dismissed whilst placing his and Catherine’s on centre stage.

Paragraph Breakdown – Topic Sentences
Paragraph 1: Isabella’s comments regarding show an ignorance to Heathcliff’s troubled childhood – which played an pivotal part in the development of his character

Paragraph 2: Heathcliff is often presented in a negative light by the narrator Nellie Dean, who from the earliest years was critical of both Heathcliff and Cathy

Paragraph 3: Heathcliff’s relationship with Catherine shows that he truly has a capacity to love, and may not be as despicable and callous as others describe him

PRACTISE ESSAY

Although Heathcliff is described by others as being a truly deplorable character, it clear that his behaviour is a direct reflection of the bad treatment that he suffered during childhood. Whilst Isabella is completely justified in her opinion and her characterization of him as a ‘devil’, her lack of insight into Heathcliff’s tortured past clouds her judgement. This paired with Nelly Dean’s bias opinion towards him, drives the reader to empathize with, and somewhat excuse Heathcliff’s actions – at any sign of a redemptive quality. His powerful and passionate relationship with Catherine serves this purpose – the reader see’s gruff Heathcliff in a vulnerable and ultimately loving light. Therefore, his bad relationships with others are easily dismissed whilst placing his and Catherine’s on centre stage.

Isabella’s comments show a naive ignorance to Heathcliff’s troubled childhood, which plays an important part in the development of his character. The constant stigmatization and deliberate isolation that Heathcliff endured so early in his life made it hard for him survive such an ordeal, mentally and pscychologically unscathed. He is treated as an unwanted addition to the Earnshaw household– cruelly referred to as “it” by fellow family members and later labelled as a "gipsy," "wicked boy," "villain," and "imp of Satan”. When Hindley Earnshaw inherits Wuthering Heights and is forced to care his siblings, this abuse and neglect only worsens. Following a vicious beating Heathcliff confides in Nelly telling her of how he wishes “pay Hindley back” and how “thinking of that [revenge]” helps him to not “feel pain”. Through this, it is easy to see that the bad treatment that Heathcliff endued has had a psychological effect on him – possibly causing him to subconsciously utilise revenge as a coping mechanism. However this is completely unbeknownst to Isabella who is quick to pass judgement on Heathcliff like many other characters throughout the novel.

Heathcliff is often presented in a negative light by the narrator Nelly Dean, who from the earliest years was critical of both Heathcliff and Cathy. Her narration apparent disapproval of their relationship and presentation of Heathcliff as an unwanted menace into her own and others’ lives is made clear throughout the novel. Following Nelly’s banishment from the Earnshaw family, she admits that “Hindley hated him: and to say the truth I did the same” and this initial dislike only intensifies as her narration continues. At the climax of his manic behaviour, Nelly ponders “Is he a ghoul or a vampire?” – only to remind herself of the child he once was and that such a reflection is ridiculous. Therefore one can note that Nelly’s oral narration may not necessarily be factually ‘true’, but rather a representation of this. Although Heathcliff commits several horrendous acts in an attempt

Heathcliff’s relationship with Catherine shows that he truly has a capacity to love, and may not be as despicable and callous as others describe him. This deep, passionate and somewhat supernatural bond they share is a strong focal point. Readers are able to view Heathcliff – a rough and uncouth individual as a grandly passionate soul mate. Even in death, Heathcliff begs Catherine to haunt him, to “be with me [him] always--take any form--drive me [him] mad”. Therefore, the reader is easily engrossed in this larger-than-life relationship – which makes it difficult to pass judgement on Heathcliff after seeing him in an ultimately loving and vulnerable light. This idea that Heathcliff’s revenge is linked to his deep desire to be together with Catherine only further encourages the reader to emphasize with Heathcliff and possibly see his personal downfalls as no fault of his own.

Whilst Heathcliff’s actions of revenge can only be described as truly horrendous – aspects of this can be attributed to his bad treatment by others and a subjective narration of events by Nelly Dean. One cannot excuse his actions; however, it is interesting to wonder whether Isabella’s statements would have changed if she had known about his past. It also has to be added that Isabella chose to be with Heathcliff, and as a consequence chose to be subjected to his behaviour. For that reason – one has to class her statements as having a personal bias, drawing heavily from her personal experiences – not necessarily clear facts.

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