In Wuthering Heights, why is Heathcliff the most compelling character?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The novel is written in such a way that Heathcliff is portrayed as a romantic hero who is simultaneously attractive and repulsive. We see the story through the eyes of Nelly Dean who is mainly sympathetic to the Catherines, and thus in her accounts of the events of the story, displays a similar fascination with Heathcliff. The mystery of Heathcliff's origins and the fact that we only see him mirrored through the eyes of multiple layers of narrative make him an intriguing mystery (the inner workings of his mind are invisible). He seems to live at an intensity achieved by few of the other characters in the novel.