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Write a detailed character study on Heathcliff, focusing on the theme of evil and the question of whether he might really be a demon.

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Introduction

English: Wuthering Heights - Heathcliff Character Study Write a detailed character study on Heathcliff, focusing on the theme of evil and the question of whether he might really be a demon. Heathcliff arrives in the summer of 1771, a small, withdrawn boy. The old Mr. Earnshaw found him in the streets of Liverpool, and feeling compassion for the dirty, ragged black-haired child, he took him back to Wuthering Heights. He becomes an adopted member of the Earnshaw family and as they know nothing about him background he is immediately labelled as a gypsy and destined to remain an outsider, in exile from society due to his actions and personality. Straight away, his actions begin to put him apart from other people. He is a "sullen, patient child; hardened perhaps, to ill treatment". An example of this is when Hindley throws a rock at Heathcliff, and, instead of crying he receives the blow and gets up again. Hindley sees Heathcliff as a usurper of his father's affections, and he grows bitter because of this, referring to Heathlcliff as an "imp of Satan". Heathcliff let each incident like this pass, and showed no outward emotion towards his abuser. Instead opting to 'bottle it' and let his vengeance build up, e.g. "I'm trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. ...read more.

Middle

Instead he becomes withdrawn and so subdued that it seems as though he wakes up only to get the day over with. "He took a grim pleasure, apparently, in exciting aversion rather than the esteem of his few acquaintance". When Heathcliff returns after running away, his character is more refined, cleaner and less confused. He no longer has mixed emotion and acts as if he has a plan to apply to life and steadily works on each waypoint towards the final goal. "A half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows, and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified, quite divested of roughness though too stern for grace". It shows how Heathcliff still has the strong, passionate outward shell. But inwardly he has learned to control how he reacts. The alternate 'evil' side has completely taken over, leaving Heathcliff emotionally cold, yet bent on revenge. Only now he is equipped to carry it out using his head rather that his hands. He knows how he is to accomplish it and will stop at nothing to finish what has been started. It is noticeable that he does not try and hide what he is doing. Instead giving 'deep' speeches to anyone who will stand to listen. ...read more.

Conclusion

One of them being that any close friends of those who have no revenge due are out of the firing line as far as a vendetta goes. Heathcliff succeeds in gaining all the material possessions he wants but does not have 'the icing on the cake'. Because of this, the intensity of his need for more revenge grows exponentially and he becomes even malevolent as he bottles even more anger. "I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms write, the more I yearn to crush out their entrails!" Catherine remains self-centred and, as a final example, drives Heathcliff insane by refusing him any pity. Heathcliff finally loses his drive for retribution and lets his true feelings be known. He loves Catherine, and she loves him, but settling both of their scores kept them sharing their final goal - being together. To conclude, I will decide that Heathcliff is indeed not the Devil, but has had all of the worst coincidences happen to him that lead to him being as unnatural as he is. An extremely bad childhood, combined with his lack of intelligence and empathy, finally amalgamated with the fact that he has very strong emotions anyway make Heathcliff's actions easy to understand, yet hard to forgive. A large number of headstrong characters, isolation, and two sets of conflicting values made distress highly unavoidable. Therefore Heathcliff is a product of circumstance and misfortune rather than the spawn of the Devil or a wild beast. ...read more.

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