Is Heathcliff a hero or a villain in Wuthering Heights?

In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is both hero and villain. He starts out with the possibility of becoming the story’s hero in the traditional sense of the term. After he endures belittling treatment from Hindley and overhears Cathy tell Nelly that it would degrade her to marry him, Heathcliff becomes a tormented character. He becomes dark and vengeful, exacting his revenge on the people he believes contributed to ruining his chance for happiness.

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Heathcliff is both a hero and a villain. At different times in the book and with various characters, he has the potential to be a hero. At other times and with other characters, he is a villain. He starts out young and good, with the possibility of becoming the story’s hero in the traditional sense of the term.

After he endures belittling treatment from Hindley, who turns him into a servant, and overhears Cathy tell Nelly that it would degrade her to marry him, Heathcliff becomes a tormented character. Deep inside, Cathy senses that it will be wrong for her to marry Edgar Linton:

It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.

After this, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights . When he returns, he exacts his revenge on the people...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 604 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on July 20, 2020
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