Do You Think That Heathcliff Is A Fiend From Hell Or A Victim Of Social Prejudice? Essay

1496 WordsApr 21, 20096 Pages
There can be no doubt that Heathcliff is fiendish in his actions in “Wuthering Heights”. The question is whether or not Heathcliff was inherently demonic, before even having been found on the streets of Liverpool, or whether this is due to social prejudices he fell victim to. To consider this question, the meaning of fiend must be considered: is Heathcliff the fiend literally a supernatural being born from hell, or someone who is evil and causes havoc. Also, the potential bias in descriptions of Heathcliff from other characters may cloud a reader’s judgement of him. Emily Bronte’s description of Heathcliff, from the opening of the book, is immediately negative. He is “wincing” when he first addresses Lockwood and his speech is “growled”. Bronte introduces Heathcliff’s bestial nature here, comparing his speech to that of a dog shortly before Lockwood is attacked by his dogs, instilling an early dislike in the reader for Heathcliff. Heathcliff’s true fiendishness, however, is only revealed in Nelly’s narrative of the story. Other than what Isabella writes in her letter, the reader has no basis for the character of Heathcliff than Nelly. Nelly’s impartiality as a narrator is, however, questionable. For instance, early in “Wuthering Heights” when Hindley has returned home, drunk, and drops Hareton down the stairs, who is fortunately caught by Heathcliff, Nelly claims that a “miser” who had sold a winning “lottery ticket…could not show a blanker countenance than he did beholding the figure of Mr Earnshaw”. Heathcliff at this point is still very young, and one does not catch a falling object by accident, so Nelly is being unduly harsh on Heathcliff’s motives. This brings in to question her reliability throughout the book. Conversely, Nelly does also describe Heathcliff kindly. Noticeably, she attempts to reassure Isabella that “He’s a human being” and that “there

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