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Wuthering Heights - is Heathcliffe a fiend from hell or a victim of social predjudice

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Introduction

Is Heathcliff a fiend from hell or a victim of social prejudice? Heathcliff is not inherently evil, but rather he is a victim of the judgement and social prejudices of Victorian Society. Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights explores the deep romantic connection between Catherine Linton and the dark-skinned gypsy, Heathcliff and the effect their supernatural relationship has on their heirs. Initially, through Nelly's interpretation, Heathcliff is seen as the villain of the novel unjustifiably upsetting the lives of the novels most innocent characters. However, on deeper analysis of Nelly's unreliable story, it becomes evident that Heathcliff's satanic actions stem from his deprivation of love and sympathy. As well as society's assumption that he is merely more than "an imp from Satan." Heathcliff's villainous actions stem from his lack of love and sympathy as a child. Found "as good as dumb in the streets of Liverpool" Heathcliff experiences neglect from an early age. ...read more.

Middle

Through Catherine's marriage Heathcliff is denied the only love he has ever had which causes him to deny others of love. Catherine's daughter, Cathy explains this when she states "Mr Heathcliff, you have nobody to love you; and, however miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery." Heathcliff's greatest misery is the death of Catherine, which intensifies his malicious treatment of Isabella and is the reason for the forced marriage of Linton and Cathy, as they can provide him with money. Without his love all Heathcliff has for fulfilment is money and power over the other characters, this is shown when he insists Cathy return to Wuthering Heights merely so he can have his "children about me." However this does not make Heathcliff evil, his occasionally satanic actions are merely a cause of his separation from his only love. ...read more.

Conclusion

Though Nelly tries to convince the reader otherwise, Heathcliff was not always as devilish as "he would stand Hindley's blows without winking or shedding a tear." Heathcliff gives the reader no indication of wanting revenge or causing harm until years after his introduction to the Earnshaw family. This proves that Heathcliff does not enter Wuthering Heights with the intention of causing harm, but rather the constant stereotyping and the expectation that he is as an evil gypsy causes him to become "a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man." Heathcliff is a victim of social prejudice rather than a fiend from hell. As Wuthering Heights progresses so too does our understanding of Heathcliff and the complexity of his nature. Though initially Nelly's interpretation causes the reader to see Heathcliff as inherently evil, a deeper analysis of his character proves otherwise. Heathcliff is mistreated and denied love and sympathy from an early age which causes him to act in a satanic manner with no regard for the feeling of others. Heathcliff's nature is mainly influenced from his lack of love, his intense feelings for Catherine and societies expectations. ...read more.

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