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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

     Heathcliff is neither; he is an anti-hero.  For, he possesses qualities of the hero: loving, courageous, physically strong, with imperfections such as feeling overpowered by his obsessive and thus selfish love. Heathcliff feels forces him into certain actions, living only to prove his worth to his beloved Cathy.  While he becomes the master of his foster brother buying up the old home--and cruelly treating him--Heathcliff remains the slave of his love to Cathy, ever brooding over her, and marries her sister-in-law only to be close to Cathy.

     After Cathy dies, Heathcliff does not abandon his love for her, a testimony to the genuineness of his feeling.  But, again the love is not heroic.  Rather it is yet obsessive:  Heathcliff wakes to the ghost of Cathy, he fails to care for himself, living only to be reunited with the woman who gives him his soul.

    In a sense Heathcliff is merely a darker side of Catherine who herself is self-centered and fickle. For, does not Catherine at one point in the novel excalim, "Heathcliff is I"? 




podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Heathcliff is a hero in the broadest sense of the word because he is the chief character or protagonist of the novel. He is not, however, a hero in the strictly tragic sense like Hamlet or in the exalted sense of a noble war hero. He probably most resembles an archetype known as the "Byronic hero," who became a literary fixture during the Romantic era. This hero is not necessarily likeable, noble, or kind. Rather, he is a tortured wanderer who tends to think mostly of himself. This hero was modeled after Lord Byron, and one famous Byronic hero is Victor Frankenstein.

kimbacat316 | Student

I think Heathcliff deep inside could be a hero, but he's just gone through so much strife in his life that he has been blinded to his true potential. Originally his love for Catherine was true devotion, passion, and was like that of any hero who truly loves someone. However, as the story continues his love begins to morph into possession, which is not heroic at all. I think if things had been different for Heathcliff he would be one of the greatest heroes of literature. Sadly, what did occur made him into more of a villain.

thanuddana | Student

The lead character in the novel is Heathcliff. Thw anwser to whether he is a hero or a villain has made millions of reader all over the world puzzled. But the true fact is that Heathcliff defies being understood. he is to a point a hero who is trying to fight for his love and fight his status but he is also a villain who fights for his love by stealing another man's wife and also due to the fact that he seeks revenge and inturn tortures and ruins the lives of numerous characters throughout the novel.In my view i think that he is a man with the characteristics of both a revengful villain and a hopeless romantic hero.

udonbutterfly | Student

Heathcliff had the potential to be very heroic however the weight of his past cause him to make decisions that would shape him into a villain. Which is also why his love for Catherine became more of an obsessive need to control the uncontrollable, which was the Catherine had for him. Just as her thoughts turned to the more superficial things being above Heathcliff's love so did his mentality about love.

owlbynight | Student

Heathcliff in my opinion is a villain cum hero. More of a villain than a hero. Even though he had a rough time during his childhoof becuase of Hindley it wasnt like there wer'nt anyone else there for him. Catherie for example was there and so was Mr.Earnshaw who loved him like he was his own son or else why would Mr.Earnshaw even adopt him? He would have been a gentleman if Catherine would'nt have betrayed him like that or rather rejected him like that. She should have made up her mind becuase if it clearly evident that she was still in love with Heathcliff while being together with Linton.

Personally I fell that Chatherine is the result for what Heathcliff became. What happened to him in his childhood he made his son go through the same thing only worse. Heathcliff hurt many people in the process of getting Truchcross Grange and Wuthering Heights in his control so that is why I conclude with saying that Heathcliff is more of a villain than a heart-broken blinded by love hero.

rackstag | Student

Heathcliff is best regarded as a hero because in any way he wants to win Catherines heart but he becomes a villian because of the way he tries to win Catherines heart was villainous

princessblue | Student

In my opinion, Heathcliff is both a villain and a hero. a hero because he just wants to prove to Catherine his worth and to Hindley that he can be like them on a higher social status. He is a villain because he wanted revenge on Catherine for marrying Edgar Linton, Edgar Linton for stealing Catherine from him and Hindley for treating him badly since childhood.

geoffreyjeff | Student

In my opinion, Heathcliff is an Anti-hero, which is a hero, but without the stereotypical characteristics of a hero.