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Do you agree that Wuthering Heights repeatedly offers moral judgements and condemnations of Heathcliff?

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Introduction

Do you agree that Wuthering Heights repeatedly offers moral judgements and condemnations of Heathcliff? Many people would agree that Heathcliff is the most controversial and complex character in 'Wuthering Heights', yet can we make a fair judgement about him. It is hard if the book repeatedly offers it's own moral judgements (usually in the form of Nelle Dean's self-righteous comments) and blatant condemnations. It is easy to be blinded by these and therefore unable to look any further in to the motives and passion that drive Heathcliff. Throughout the book we see Heathcliff responsible for terrible deeds. He could easily be interpreted as an unrelenting force of evil, due to the many demonic and wild animal-like descriptions of him; 'He howled, not like a man, but like a savage beast.' Heathcliff beats Hindley, so much so that he is probably responsible for his death. It seems almost impossible to have any sympathy or even respect for a man who 'kicked and trampled' on Hindley when he had 'fallen senseless with excessive pain' and therefore could not defend himself. But this is only one of many, Heathcliff also beats Isabella and keeps Cathy and Nelle as prisoners at the Heights. On a lesser level, Heathcliff hangs Isabella's dog and kills some young chicks by putting a cage over them so that they couldn't be fed. This, though is actually maybe more disturbing than his beating of Hindley or Isabella due to the base nature of the act of wanting to harm something so helpless and innocent. Heathcliff continues this trend of taking anger and vengeance out on those that are innocent, by treating the 'second generation' abysmally. He forces Cathy to work for him at the Heights, demands that Linton stay at Wuthering Heights where he is sure to die due to his cruel treatment only so that he may gain Thrushcross Grange. Also, he brings up Hareton as a little barbarian and turns him against his father. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore his seeking of Cathy is a way to release all his pent-up emotion that has only be building up inside him. This too helps to creates his receptiveness and eagerness to hear Cathy sighing or see her ghost on the moor. After hearing the first sigh it reminds him of his isolation from Cathy and how impossible it is for him to be with her in a physical way and therefore after hearing the second sigh he 'turned consoled at once, unspeakable consoled,' as this to him confirms the first sigh as genuine, and thus reinforces his hope and dreams that she is with him; 'Where is she? Not there - not in heaven - not perished - where?' and 'You said I killed you - haunt me, then!...Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad!'. Hence, we tend to see Heathcliff drawn more to Cathy as a metaphysical being rather than a physical body and drawing comfort from this fact. This of course is not common in any other main narrator in the book and aspect of Heathcliff's character is important as it highlights his rejection of society, as a product of their rejection and therefore we feel more sympathetic for him. Further sympathy is given to Heathcliff as never recovers over the death of Cathy and creates illusions for himself to help himself cope: 'I'll have her in my arms again! If she be cold, I'll think it is this north wind that chills me; and if she motionless, it is sleep' We must remember that Heathcliff was first introduced to us as 'a dirty, ragged, black-haired child' orphan and the first greeting he received from Mrs Earnshaw was a threat to 'fling it out of doors', the children 'refused to have it in their bed with them, or even in their room' and Nelle chose to 'put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might be gone on the morrow.' ...read more.

Conclusion

of being ironic in so much as that she is not trying to show Heathcliff as a devil but how society and all those that dismiss Heathcliff as being cruel and cold in their lack of effort to accept him and love him, instead of making him an outsider. There is an ironic stream running through Wuthering Heights that highlights Heathcliff as a bad character but only to point out the way that others so quickly put their fault on his shoulders without realising the hypocrisy in their words. For example on his first introduction to the Lintons they refer to him as a 'gipsy' and make such comments as 'Frightful thing! Put him in the cellar, Papa,' and 'a wicked boy...quite unfit for a descent house'. The Lintons see Heathcliff as a person that is unfit for their company because he is ungracious in manner and speech, yet the way they treat him is appalling. They are rude and speak as though he is not in the room. Heathcliff would never get away with treating them the way they treat him. Heathcliff can't be happy in a normal world, as he is too intense and passionate, the only person who understands him is Cathy, and of course the fact that she too seemed to reject him in favour of Linton, makes his life powerful moving. Heathcliff's life has been full of great passion and yet it is also a tale of great suffering. Heathcliff is a hero who is also a rebel, he surpasses moral codes, and because he is always the victim of rejection, we feel great respect for him, as we realise that his way of life and actions are much harder to do than those of Edgar Linton's for example as every action Heathcliff is accountable for will be against society. Hence we want to support Heathcliff's actions, especially as society is represented by pretentious, shallow busy-bodies such as Linton and Lockwood. By: Chee For: Mrs Hill Date: 4th Jan ...read more.

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