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is heathcliff a villan or hero??

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akom | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 15, 2012 at 11:27 AM via web

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is heathcliff a villan or hero??

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM (Answer #1)

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Heathcliff from Wuthering Heightsdefinitely falls into the dark 'anti-hero' category.  Like Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre, Heathcliff embodies the typical sort of "bad-boy" persona that women (particularly Catherine) find so appealing.  His brooding, darkly handsome, tortured persona makes Heathcliff one of the most recognizable romantic heroes of all time.  There's just one small problem.  Heathcliff can be, and for most of the novel is, a total jerk.

Heathcliff has a violent streak.  One only need look at what he named his dogs (Throttler, Skulker...) to see that Heathcliff's passions have dark, untenable roots.  He is completely unsympathetic to his family member as portrayed in this disturbing scene:

[Heathcliff] seized, and thrust [Isabella] from the room; and returned muttering – "I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething; and I grind with greater energy in proportion to the increase of pain." (Chapter 14).


Despite all this, Heathcliff remains a sympathetic character; knowing in the end that he finds his soul mate, only to have her marry someone else. 

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maryam-a412 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted August 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM (Answer #2)

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Heathcliff is a byronic hero, meaning he is a hero yet a villian. true to form, readers sympathis with him but at times detest him for his vile behaviour. he himself is at times a good father to hareton and an outstanding lover to cathy but simultaneously he is a pitiless wolfish beat and an incarnate monster to isabella and edgar and other. mostly characters and readers percieve him to be evil personified but it must be remembered that at the heart of the grown amn there still lies the abandoned child found in the streets of liverpool. deprived of warmth love and affection. whatever he is, others and circumstances have made him. no matter what happens, heathcliff can be justified. ifact it is felt that bronte herself justifies him in the words you cruelt rises from your greater misery.

in a nutshell, heathcliff is a demonically charasmatic character. lockwood is right in his analysis of heathcliff that he'll hate and love equally, similarly he'l attain our praise and abhorence equally.

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