Homework Help

Was Heathcliff black?Some suggest he may have been black, Arab, or mixed race. What in...

user profile pic

alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted May 2, 2011 at 7:45 AM via web

dislike 0 like

Was Heathcliff black?

Some suggest he may have been black, Arab, or mixed race. What in the text would suggest this?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

lisaveta | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 2, 2011 at 8:04 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The text describes him as dark and swarthy; when Mr. Earnshaw brings him home in chapter 4 he calls him "as dark as if he belonged to the devil," and his wife describes him as a "gypsy brat." We are told that he has black hair and eyes, and it seems implied that he might have a gypsy background, which would give him an alien and non-european racial origin. It would not be inconsistent with the novel to suppose that he had African ancestry as well. However, Heathcliff is a fictional character, so we cannot find out any more about him than the author tells us, and the author says nothing which would imply that he was partly black or had an African origin, in particular, rather than being merely dark and swarthy. In chapter 3 the adult Heathcliff is described as "white as the wall behind him" from fright. If he could blanche white from fear it is probable that he had a comparitively light complexion, and was only considered dark in comparison to most English.

user profile pic

user1450001 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:01 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

The novel describes him as dark and emily's vision too as she wants to   express different points in context to that era, society, and love.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes