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Examination of Heathcliff's character in the plot of Wuthering Heights.

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Brian Dow October 29th, 2003 Emily Bronte (1818-1855) Wuthering Heights (1847) Examination of Heathcliff's character in the plot of Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights centers around the story of Heathcliff. The first paragraph of the novel provides a vivid physical picture of him, as Lockwood describes how his "black eyes" withdraw suspiciously under his brows at Lockwood's approach. Nelly's story begins with his introduction into the Earnshaw family, his vengeful machinations drive the entire plot, and his death ends the book. The desire to understand him and his motivations keeps us engaged in the novel. His many levels cause us to delve deeper than expected, and the introspection allows us to fully explore not only Heathcliff but also the novel itself. Heathcliff, however, defies being understood, and it is difficult for us to resist seeing what they want or expect to see in him. The novel teases with the possibility that Heathcliff is something other than what he seems; that his cruelty is merely an expression of his frustrated love for Catherine, or that his sinister behaviors serve to conceal the heart of a romantic hero. ...read more.


Heathcliff drives the plot, as without Heathcliff we would not have any of the problems needed to be dealt with. Heathcliff is connected in some way to almost everyone in this novel, and unfortunately in some way he deals with them negatively. Heathcliff helps to attach all of these stories together, as he is the reason such misfortune happens to everyone and thus he sits at the crux of the basic plot. He remains throughout the novel to be somehow involved in most happenings, whether it is part of the present day with Mr. Lockwood or when Nelly recalls of his doings back in the day when Catherine was still alive.He Considering this historical context, Heathcliff seems to embody the anxieties that the book's upper- and middle-class audience had about the working classes. It is easy to sympathize with him when he is powerless, as a child tyrannized by Hindley Earnshaw, but he becomes a villain when he acquires power and returns to Wuthering Heights with money and the trappings of a gentleman. ...read more.


Instead, it seems he can only find comfort in revenge for the life he was given, and this revenge knows no boundaries. The question of whether he is a victim or a villain is substantial, but in the end it is he and only he who makes his life so diabolical, and so the only conclusion drawn. Heathcliff is a villain for choosing to be so vengeful and spiteful, while he is a victim solely because of what he does to himself by living the way he does. Heathcliff plays a pivotal role in the novel, and it is his narcissistic character that allows for this. He feels as if the world should and does revolve around his life, and his decisions and actions cement this theory. Only once do we see him act as a loving character, one who is willing to put someone else before himself. But after he misconstrues Catherine's conversation with Nelly, he never again shows that side of him. Heathcliff's narcissism is what drives his life beyond that point, for he always seems to act solely on his behalf and thinks only of himself. ...read more.

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