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Is Heathcliff someone you admire or detest? Discuss.

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Introduction

Is Heathcliff someone you admire or detest? Discuss "Nelly, make me decent, I'm going to be good." Heathcliff uttered these words, almost a plea for salvation, to his nurse and confidant, Ellen Dean at a point where his life had reached rock bottom. Is Heathcliff, an only child found on the streets of Liverpool, and subjected to unimaginable cruelty as a child, to be detested for his subsequent actions? Are we as people able to dismiss him as a spiteful, almost evil character when we ourselves have never experienced the intense pain of being separated from someone we love so deeply? To decide whether Heathcliff should be admired or detested, we need to examine his character and History in greater depth. The first person to meet Heathcliff in the novel is Mr Lockwood, his tenant. Lockwood describes Heathcliff as someone who has an "aversion to showy displays of feeling." This comment seems totally absurd when we see him with Catherine, however. For instance, when Mr Earnshaw has just died, Catherine and Heathcliff console each other so tenderly, Nelly remarks, "No person in the world ever pictured heaven so beautifully as they did." It is as if he can only truly open his soul to her, and her memory alone. Everything else around him seems negligible. This passionate, caring side of Heathcliff is only ever exposed to Catherine. Every other character is treated with contempt, hatred or mere indifference. ...read more.

Middle

Also, the hyperbole of Heathcliff's assertion that his satisfaction shall be greater than that of god himself shows that he has lost any morality he possessed; it is a terrible sin to consider yourself to be superior to god. However it is not just Hindley who is responsible for transforming Heathcliff from an innocent young child into a reckless, cruel man; the object of his own desires also has a part to play in his demise. Catherine, who after having spent 3 months recovering from her injury at Thrushcross Grange, had acquired a taste for living in such plush surroundings. She knew however that Heathcliff would never be able to provide such luxury, and therefore, rather selfishly, she gained the favour of Edgar Linton, a rich young man who would be able to fulfil her dreams of living with the middle classes. Heathcliff, after overhearing Catherine explain to Nelly how marrying him would degrade her, is so determined to have her that he runs away, returning rich and prosperous three years later. However, if he had waited just a few more moments, and heard a little more of that conversation, he would have seen that Catherine knew that she had "no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven." The remark about heaven comes from an earlier speech where Catherine explains that her true heaven would be running in the moors, and being at Wuthering Heights. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is the ultimate proof, if anymore were needed of the unquenchable, unwavering passion that flows between these two people. It is so great that no mortal could ever experience what they have. With such a deep-rooted connection between Catherine and Heathcliff, Heathcliff's seemingly cruel and bitter acts of revenge begin to become more understandable. However, I feel that the relationship between these two is so unique it is rather like the concept of god to someone religious; it is so overwhelmingly complicated, you cannot even begin to pretend you understand it all. Heathcliff was named after a child who died young and never reached his prime. The same can be said of our Heathcliff, who spent his life, homeless, bullied, infatuated, jealous or full of malice. Never was he truly happy. So should he be admired or detested? I feel that to admire such a man would be wrong. Although the way he maintained his dignity and love for Catherine even though he was being treated like dirt is admirable, the way he went about seeking revenge, drawing in and abusing the innocent to achieve his ends is disgusting. However if I was forced to endure such a childhood, then I wonder whether or not my mind would be affected the way Heathcliff's was. So, to conclude I feel that I can neither admire nor detest him, as events on both ends of the scale seem to cancel each other out. ...read more.

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