Wuthering Heights

Sympathy for Heathcliff? 12th Grade

Many aspects of Heathcliff's personality are apparently “fiendish," complementing his role as the ‘Byronic hero’ of the Wuthering Heights, a character who is dark, rebellious, and antisocial. However, the Byronic hero is also seen to be an enticingly romantic character, while Heathcliff displays a very different sort of persona. With his mistreatment as a child, his isolation, and his psychological deterioration after the death of Cathy, Heathcliff is a remarkably sympathetic character.

Bronte presents Heathcliff’s childhood as a harsh one, full of mistreatment which makes us feel sympathetic towards him since he is so vulnerable. We learn that Heathcliff is already an orphan, and knowing that “Mrs Earnshaw was ready to fling it [Heathcliff] out of doors” appeals to the Gothic theme of injustice. The objectification of Heathcliff through “it” cements him as an dispensable item to Mrs Earnshaw, a person who can be “flung” away just like a piece of rubbish. To further exemplify his mistreatment, Heathcliff is also subjected to great physical violence, but “stand[s] Hindley’s blows without winking,” which shows how Heathcliff does not retaliate to those that hurt him. Instead, he simply endures violence. However, some may argue...

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