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Wuthering HeightsArgue whether Heathcliff was either redeemable or justified in his...

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myobfierce | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted October 12, 2011 at 12:13 AM via web

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Wuthering Heights

Argue whether Heathcliff was either redeemable or justified in his actions. Since faith -in a strictly religious sense of the word-is not a major- or actually minor thread , matters of obligation towards one's fellow man(or woman)
and morality are left up to the individual reader's own philosophy.

In chapter 31 (about three pages in from the-"it would be odd if I thwart myself, " he muttered..."but , when I look for his father in his face.
I find  her very day more! How the devil is he so like ? I can hardly bear to see him."  while heathcliff may not regret his horrible actions
He is aware that he is paying for them by the slowly creeping possession of his soul ; he is being punished by not being able to shake the images of those he helped to destroy.
just as catherine declared herself as one with him heathcliff is now bound to her memory .
does this make any sense? do i ever?
take it away my esteemed partner in literature.

5 Answers | Add Yours

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 12, 2011 at 2:35 AM (Answer #2)

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I have always had a soft spot for poor Heathcliff.  He got a bum rap.  People are a function of their environments, and in his case it was both his childhood and the society in which he found himself that caused him to self-destruct.  I do think he is redeemable through love, and redemption through love is a classic Victorian theme.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 12, 2011 at 9:03 AM (Answer #3)

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Heathcliff, as are we all, is a product of his experiences and environment. His life is very harsh living on the streets in the city where his adoptive father (Mr. Earnshaw) finds and saves him. And while Heathcliff is removed from that environment, one would assume the lessons he learned to survive will stay with him for the rest of his life. Maybe he won't need to fight off someone trying to steal his wallet, but he does have to survive Hindley's horrific treatment of him after Mr. Earnshaw dies. We know that Heathcliff is capable of love: he very much loves Catherine, but she loves other things more than Heathcliff, and they never get it right. She marries someone else and he becomes enraged. Revenge becomes his sole goal in life, and it robs him of what humanity he had. Though he has some time to make amends of a sort, his life is tragic and I find his anger justified due to his mistreatment, and see his actions towards the end directed towards showing us that he is redeemable as well.

Honestly—realistically—he never had a chance: not in the world of the Earnshaws.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:37 PM (Answer #4)

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Even thought Heathcliff behaves in some despicable ways, he does show that he can soften that rough exterior that so match Wuthering Heights itself, and that a brighter way can made for the people who live there.  Heathcliff's support of young Kathy and Hareton is evidence of some measure of redemption for Heathcliff, even though it comes at the end of a tragic series of events for himself.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2011 at 3:36 AM (Answer #5)

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There is something appealing in the way that Heathcliff defies social conventions and norms and does precisely what he wants to do. I agree with others that towards the end of the novel, his obsession with Catherine (the younger) leads him to become less focussed on ruining the lives of his descendants and allows us to see his actions as the result of his thwarted love and his pain of separation from Catherine. Crucial to the novel however is Bronte's presentation of Heathcliff as being monstrous in his humanity and human in his monstrous nature. There is just enough ambiguity to make it very hard indeed to side with any one presentation of him.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2011 at 11:41 AM (Answer #6)

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Heathcliff is the Byronic lover, brooding and dark.  Always there is this darkness and mystery associated with Heathcliff that is, as mentioned above, appealing to readers.  More than anything, however, the orphan Heathcliff seems to become almost imprinted with Catherine Earnshaw from his arrival.  "Heathcliff is I" she declares to Nellie.  Their love is an obsession from which there is no redemption.  Once Catherine is gone, Heathcliff cannot bear the loss; he is outside himself without control.

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