Describe Heathcliff's personality in WutheringHeights? What is your
point of view about his character?
The first indication of Heathcliff's savage personality is found in
the opening chapter when the dogs - "A brood of tigers", "fiends" are
represented and Heathcliff growls in unison with them. He informs
Lockwood that the bitch is not kept for a pet. Catherine's diary
provides a clue to the cause of Heathcliff's savagery and hatred,
"Poor Heathcliff! Hindley calls him a vagabond, and won't let him sit
with us and eat with us anymore... and swears that he will reduce him
to his right place". Mr. Earnshaw first describes him thus - "though
its as dark almost as if it came from the devil".
Heathcliff's dominant personality quickly becomes evident - "You must
exchange horses with me, I don't like mine". This incident
demonstrates the extent to which Heathcliff has already been hardened
and brutalised. The ragged new-comer to Wuthering Heights is an image
of a human creature reduced to its bare animal essence, the naked will
to live. Nelly's comments about Heathcliff's ability to withstand pain
supports this point of view, "He would withstand Hindley's blows
without winking or shedding a tear". Heathcliff's dominant will was
being fed by Mr. Earnshaw's favouritism, when he dies this changes,
Heathcliff then suffers the tyranny of Hindley. From this point on,
the revenge theme begins in the novel. Heathcliff's recollection of
the Grange in Chapter 6 is tied this first inkling of revenge, "If I
might have the privilege of flinging Joseph off the highest gale and
painting the housefront with Hindley's blood".
Heathcliff's language at the Grange, indicated a malevolent attitude,
"I've vociferated curses enough to annihilate any fiend in
Christendom". Heathcliff's hatred for the Linton family is traceable
to this moment - "Yet the villain scowls so plainly in his face, would
it not be a kindness to the country to hang him at once before he
shows his nature in acts as well as in features". Catherine's stay at
the Grange precipitates a further decline in Heathcliff's behaviour.
When she returns he is dirtier than before - "I shall be as dirty as I
please and I like to be dirty and I will be dirty". Later he confides
to Nelly the purpose of his meditations, "I am trying to be settle how
I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait if I can only
do it at last" - "I only wish I new the best way. Let me alone and
I'll plan it out, while I'm thinking of that, I don't feel pain". Now
the novel's counter-theme to the love story becomes clear -
Heathcliff's long premeditated ruthless revenge gradually increasing
in scope with all the force of Heathcliff's primitive unchanging will
behind it. From this point on, there is in Heathcliff a subordination
of all other feelings except revenge.
Now the prince-in-disguise is destined to become a demon, taking on in
fact the fiendishness that Nelly had seen...