A Presentation of the Personalities of Heathcliff and
Murray Kempton once admitted, No great scoundrel is ever uninteresting.' The human race continually focuses on characters who intentionally harm others and create damaging situations for their own benefit. Despite popular morals, characters who display an utter disregard for the natural order of human life are characters who are often deemed iconic and are thoroughly scrutinized. If only the characters of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights were as simple as that. Set on the mysterious and gloomy Yorkshire moors in the nineteenth century, Wuthering Heights gives the illusion of lonesome isolation as a stranger, Mr. Lockwood, attempts to narrate a tale he is very far removed from. Emily Bronte's in-depth novel can be considered a Gothic romance or an essay on the human relationship. The reader may regard the novel as a serious study of human problems such as love and hate, or revenge and jealousy. One may even consider the novel Bronte's personal interpretation of the universe. However, when all is said and done, Heathcliff and Catherine are the story. Their powerful presence permeates throughout the novel, as well as their complex personalities. Their climatic feelings towards each other and often selfish behavior often exaggerates or possibly encapsulates certain universal psychological truths humans are too afraid to express. Heathcliff and Catherine's stark backgrounds evolve respectively into dark personalities and mistaken life paths, but in the end their actions determine the course of their own relationships and lives. Their misfortunes, recklessness, willpower, and destructive passion are unable to penetrate the eternal love they share.
Heathcliff's many-faceted existence is marked by wickedness, love, and strength. His dark actions are produced by the distortion of his natural personality. Although Heathcliff was once subjected to vicious racism due to his dark skin color and experienced wearisome orphan years in Liverpool, this distortion had already begun when Mr. Earnshaw brought him into Wuthering Heights, a "dirty, ragged, black-haired child"(45; ch.7). Already he was inured to hardship and uncomplainingly accepted suffering. Heathcliff displays his strength and steadfastness when he had the measles, and when Hindley treated him cruelly if he got what he wanted. From the very beginning he showed great courage, resoluteness, and love. Few have the audacity to be victimized (as Heathcliff was by Hindley after Mr. Earnshaw's death) and find secret delight in his persecutor sinking into a life of debauchery which will undoubtedly cause his own death. Not only did Heathcliff show his strength through Hindley, but also by following his personal goal of a life with Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff vanishes for three years to win Cathy over with his successes. He chose to fight a battle most would never attempt to begin. Heathcliff, being the survivor that he is, proved himself to be quite a gentleman. Nelly offers her impression when narrating, "
he would certainly have struck a stranger as a born and bred gentleman
" (130; ch. 14). Although Heathcliff's personality is so unusually and intensely strong, he does emit qualities rooted in ourselves. His trials and tribulations only develop and exaggerate the darkness and violence inherited in not only Heathcliff, but everyone. However, Heathcliff's wickedness is entirely inappropriate and unusual. Without question he is brutal. The primal and universal darkness in Heathcliff must not be excused. The vicious manner n which he helps to destroy Hindley, kidnaps Cathy and Nelly, and brutalizes Isabella and Hareton, suggests that he is not born with the same primal and universal structure as everyday man, but some other disturbed quality. For example, Isabella in a letter to Ellen wrote, "Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? And if so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?" (121; ch. 13). The antisocial...
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