Wuthering Heights

Bronte's Influence on Readers' Attitudes Towards Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights

In Emily Bronte's famous novel Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is indisputably an evil character. He commits innumerable atrocious acts, yet Bronte ensures that one cannot help but feel sympathy towards him. One reason that the book is considered a study in psychology is the manner in which Bronte tricks the reader into justifying and accepting Heathcliff's cruelty. The author's virtuosic manipulation of conflicting emotions is what gives the simple plot and characters of Wuthering Heights' their intensity and intrigue.

Heathcliff is first introduced as "a dirty, ragged, black-haired child" (Bronte 34) that Mr. Earnshaw brings home from Liverpool. Earnshaw names the boy after his deceased son, but the other members of the family refer to him as "it." The reader cannot help but pity Heathcliff due to Bronte's description of how "he would stand Hindley's blows without winking or shedding a tear" (Bronte 35). The reader also thinks less of the other children because of their cruelty, which only serves to amplify sympathy for Heathcliff. As Heathcliff grows older, he and Catherine become friends; but after Catherine becomes friends with the Lintons, Heathcliff feels unworthy of...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1082 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8442 literature essays, 2298 sample college application essays, 367 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in