Is Heathcliff the protagonist or antagonist in Wuthering Heights?

Heathcliff is both the protagonist and the antagonist. On the one hand, he’s the protagonist in that he is the leading character of the story, a constant brooding presence throughout. Yet he’s also the antagonist in that he’s at times vengeful, violent, and nasty.

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Heathcliff is undoubtedly one of the most complex characters in English literature, and that is that makes him so singularly unforgettable. A powerful force of nature, a dark brooding presence who dominates almost every scene in the story, even when he’s not in it, this epitome of the Byronic Romantic hero is very much the protagonist of the story. He is without a doubt the main character in the story, the man who makes things happen, for good and bad, more than anyone else.

At the same time, Heathcliff is very much the antagonist . We’ve already mentioned his dark, brooding nature, and it is this facet of his character that makes him almost an anti-hero. There’s something of the demonic in Heathcliff, a product perhaps of his troubled upbringing as an orphan. Not surprisingly, given his abominable treatment in the past, Heathcliff is hell-bent on revenge and regularly performs cruel and vicious acts on those he claims have wronged him. Even Catherine regards him as a “fierce,...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 699 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on July 23, 2020