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Wuthering Heights - What do we learn about the character of Heathcliff in this extract? (Chapter 15, vol.2, page 284-288)

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Introduction

Rob Williams Wuthering Heights: Exam Practice 1. What do we learn about the character of Heathcliff in this extract? (Chapter 15, vol.2, page 284-288) This extract whilst confirming and extending many of the character traits that we have previously seen in Heathcliff, also presents us with other sections of his persona that have not been revealed before in the novel. We see more examples, perhaps the most grotesque yet as it is dealt upon an innocent child, of his sadistic nature, yet we also learn of his pain and suffering inflicted on him by the dead Catherine. The younger Catherine hurts Heathcliff acutely in her na�ve (but correct) criticism of him. She says that she would rather be the weak-willed Linton than Heathcliff, and says "No-one loves you-nobody will ever cry for you, when you die! I wouldn't be you!" This condemnation is too close to the truth for Heathcliff, her innocence penetrating his dour, misanthropic exterior, and in return Heathcliff says, "You shall be sorry to be yourself presently." Here we get an indication of the suffering that Heathcliff will inflict on the younger Catherine later in the novel. His sadistic nature is coming to the fore, the only way that he can relieve his pain later is the torture and imprisonment of Cathy, indeed he says to Nelly "...that lass (Cathy) ...read more.

Middle

One cannot condone his actions in keeping Cathy, Earnshaw, and his wife prisoner, however Bronte presents them in juxtaposition with Heathcliffs predicament (his pain at losing Cathy, and attempts to quench his pain) next to which they seem insignificant. As the above quote shows, in this chapter at least, Bronte presents the treatment of 'prisoners' as a kind of footnote, inserted into the 'more important' text about Heathcliffs problems. He "remembers" stopping to beat Linton, suggesting that this was a regular occurrence, something little out of the ordinary and nothing compared to the major struggle that Heathcliff is continuing. The Major example of this shocking characterisation in this chapter, which in a rational, civilised world we could not condone, but Bronte allows us to is the digging up of Cathy's grave so Heathcliff can hold her . Disturbing the dead is in it shocking, however Bronte increases the shock value, giving it sexual connotations by suggesting that he would "dissolve with her" and that they would "merge" into one. This possible necrophilia is act which is one of the most shocking sections of the gothic novel, and yet once again Bronte allows us to rationalise Heathcliffs actions, and to some extent condone them. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is a typical Byronic hero; powerful, attractive, melancholic and brutal, this anti-hero demands our respect and our sympathy. A prime example of this shocking characterisation which in a rational, civilised world we could not condone, is the section already studied where Heathcliff digs up the grave of Catherine to get closer to her. Disturbing the dead is something conventionally frowned upon; however Bronte increases the shock value, giving it sexual connotations by suggesting that he would "dissolve with her" and that they would "merge" into one. Necrophilia is act which would shock and disgust twenty-first century audiences let alone Victorian ones, however it is in context with the rest of the novel, and Heathcliffs character seems reasonable. This act purges him, for a while at least, of the pain he suffers. His love for Cathy is such and is pain so visibly great that we find ourselves condoning his actions as not only plausible, but understandable which rationally we would find grotesque. This therefore questions not only our own conventions what is and is not acceptable in sexuality, but also questions religion. Not finished after 13/4 hours of Exam style work Go onto say; * Character-Cathy * Language- shocking, blasphemous, language used to describe love of H+C * Love- defying convention, uses (uselessness?) of marriage * Religion- its pagan values ...read more.

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