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Heathcliff A Character Defined By His Past, In Wuthering Heights

1293 words - 5 pages

Wuthering Heights is a novel whose main character is said to have a double significance. He is said to be both the dispossessed and the dispossessor, victim of class hatred and arch – exploiter, he simultaneously occupies the roles of working class outsider and brutal capitalist. Heathcliff has all these characteristics because of his experiences. He is a character moulded by his past.

Heathcliff is a character defined by his sympathetic past. Growing up as an orphan from a tender age, deprived of a structured family and family support system, exposed to the negative influences life offered, it is almost a certainty that his behaviour will not be that of an ideal gentleman.
Heathcliff was adopted by Mr Earnshaw. He was then given a well structured and steady family including a brother Hindley and sister Catherine. Mr Earnshaw made certain that nobody took advantage of Heathcliff and poured out his affection onto Heathcliff. However Heathcliff became overwhelmed by all the attention and affection, manipulated the situation and used it to his advantage.
Hindley, being the only biological son of Mr Earnshaw was envious of the relationship shared between Mr Earnshaw and Heathcliff and burned with fury. He made no effort to hide his resentment toward Heathcliff. Hindley despised Heathcliff to such an extent that when Mr Earnshaw died, he treated Heathcliff more like a servant and for bided him to talk to Catherine. Life then became miserable for Heathcliff and then became revenge driven. Hindley’s abusive and arrogant attitude toward Heathcliff, resulted in the chain of revengeful events that occurred in the novel. Hindley was instrumental in moulding Heathcliff into the destructive character he became.
As we know, Heathcliff was recognised more for his love affair with Catherine, than his revenge in the later part of the novel. However Catherine lured Heathcliff into a relationship, brain washed him into thinking that she truely loved him and was going to marry him one fine day. Instead she discarded their relationship and decided to marry Edgar Linton, a wealthy man. Catherine discarded her relationship with Heathcliff, for one main reason and that was because he was not a wealthy man. It was obvious that Catherine married Edgar so she could be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood and if she married Heathcliff it would degrade her and they would both end up as beggars . This a good example of how Heathcliff was a victim of class hatred.
His impulsive actions makes his character, not only revengeful, but also demonic. His goal in life was to take revenge on those who have victimized him.
Heathcliff is a victim of class hatred but he also manipulates situations to his advantage and becomes an arch - exploiter. For example, after the death of his wife, Hindley went insane. Heathcliff used this opportunity to take revenge and took Wuthering Heights away from Hindley. He then went further and married Edgar’s...

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