Wuthering Heights Essay Example
Emily Bronte’s gothic novel Wuthering Heights revolves around the main character and former orphan Heathcliff and his passionate love for his adoptive sister, Catherine Earnshaw. At his new home at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff’s harsh and defiant personality does not win him the favor of the Earnshaws or their neighbors, the Lintons, and he suffers the rejection of both, which causes him to temporarily leave the Heights. Upon his return, he sets out to make both families miserable. In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff may appear evil due to his many immoral actions, but the reader can also feel sympathetic towards him because of his yearning for true love and his mistreatment throughout his childhood.
Heathcliff is often seen by readers as a villain due to his spiteful personality and indecent actions that target Hindley and Edgar. At the beginning of the novel, when Lockwood walks up to the door of Heathcliff’s home, there are ravaging dogs, and when he answers the door, his dark and ominous eyes truly reveal the malevolence of his personality. The behavior readers see in future chapters only reinforces this characterization. One of the most immoral actions he performs is when he wants to get revenge on Hindley and take over Wuthering Heights.
Heathcliff knows that Hindley, the owner of the estate, has a gambling problem, so Heathcliff encourages this behavior by lending Hindley money to fuel his gambling addiction. This then allows for Heathcliff to gain control of the estate because Hindley has no way to pay him back for all the money he lost. He thus exploits a man’s illness to steal his ancestral home. Another way Heathcliff gets back at Hindley is by making his son, Hareton, a common servant. He does not allow Hareton to have an education, and he teaches him to curse and how to use it against his father. With no education or manners, Hareton will never be treated like the aristocrat he is. Heathcliff also takes revenge on Edgar, Catherine’s husband and the owner of the neighboring estate, first by marrying Isabella, his sister, to spite him.
This makes Edgar enraged that his sister is marrying Heathcliff. Once Isabella is legally his wife, Heathcliff abuses her mentally and physically and makes Isabella question his morality and even his humanity, for example by hanging Isabella’s dog. Heathcliff also makes Catherine, Edgar’s daughter, marry Linton, his son, by kidnapping Catherine and her servant Nelly. Heathcliff does this because his plan is for Linton to marry Cathy and for Edgar to die before Linton does to give him claim on Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff is truly a cruel person because he is attempting to steal their family property and in this time property was the main symbol of your status. Heathcliff does many evil things throughout the novel, which truly show how ugly his personality is how he has become so cruel and immoral.
Although Heathcliff seems like a malicious antagonist, based on his actions alone, readers can have some sympathy for him because of his upbringing and his desire for true love with Catherine. Heathcliff begins his life as an orphan, but he is discovered on the street and brought home by the wealthy Mr. Earnshaw. His life with the Earnshaws is not much better, though. He was seen as less than everyone else in the household because of his race and his background as an orphan. Heathcliff, therefore, did not have a basic support system from his family because he was often neglected and left out of his family because he was regarded as an evil villain because of the color of his skin. Being rejected and neglected truly hurt Heathcliff like when Hindley would not let Heathcliff eat with them. The reader can feel sympathetic to Heathcliff because of the neglect and disrespect that his family felt for him. Even Catherine, his adoptive sister, and his friend, eventually rejected Heathcliff due to his class. Catherine one day admitted her love for Heathcliff, but said she was going to marry Edgar instead because of his money and social status. Heathcliff was devastated and proceeded to leave for 3 years because of how bad this hurt him. The suffering Heathcliff left and his ability to love deeply surely creates sympathy in most readers, who realize that he may have been molded into the cruel monster he was because of all of the neglect as a child.
In Wuthering Heights, the reader can feel sympathetic towards Heathcliff because of his desire for true love and his neglect-filled childhood, despite his many evil and immoral actions throughout the novel. Heathcliff is often characterized as a malicious evil human being by the author. Examples of this include when he takes advantage of Hindley’s gambling problem to gain control of Wuthering Heights, and when he forces Catherine to marry his son Linton so he could inherit Thrushcross Grange, the neighboring estate. Despite these examples, the reader can feel sympathetic towards Heathcliff because he was heavily neglected as a child because of his social class and his ethnic background, so it can be apparent that this caused him to become evil. Through Heathcliff and his two sides, the author of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, argues that society is wrong to harbor prejudice against people when it is not their fault. In the period that Bronte was writing the novel, racism was a major social problem and it was very progressive for her to address this issue in her novel Wuthering Heights.