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Wuthering Heights: Healthcliff and His Villainy

Wuthering Heights Cover
Haunted Hearts

A classic work of literature Wuthering Heights authored by Emily Bronte, is considered to be a
masterpiece of writing. In this novel, Bronte incorporates themes of romance, despair,
drama and suspense. These themes are able to interlock and intertwine with each other. In all of the topics that Emily Bronte brings out in her novel, there is a villain who fits all of these themes. The villain in Wuthering Heights is Heathcliff. His abusive character that makes him a villain is revealed chronologically throughout the story .

The novel begins with Heathcliff owning Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Healthcliff is a lonely man, with no marriage or relationship. The main residents at Wuthering Heights are: the housekeeper Zilla, a stableman Joesph, and a woman named Young Catherine. Healthcliff not only owns Wuthering Heights, but he also owns Thrushcross Grange in which Mr. Lockwood is renting. While at Thrushcross Grange, Lockwood is very interested in the story of Heathcliff the background to his owning of two estates.

Healthcliff was adopted from Liverpool and was brought to Wuthering Heights to be part of the Earnshaw family. As a child "he seemed a sullen, patient child; hardened, perhaps to ill-treatment: he would stand Hindley's blowing without winking or shedding a tear..." (Bronte 24). In this time period Healthcliff was mistreated by the other children in the house: Catherine and Hindley. The mistreatment continued as, "they entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room; and I had no more sense, so I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might be gone on the morrow." (Bronte 24) Even though Heathcliff was being mistreated by Catherine and Hindley, so much that he was not let in bed and referred to as "it", he was also loved by Mr. Earnshaw. He was a favorite over Hindley, though Hindley was Mr. Earnshaw's son, his flesh and blood

Hareton Earnshaw, the son of Hindley Earnshaw and Frances Earnshaw, comes into the care of Healthcliff when Hindley Earnshaw dies. This marks the start of Healthcliff's villainy. Healthcliff treats Hareton the way that he was treated as a young boy. Nelly, who is one of the main characters in the story, tells Lockwood, "Hareton, who should now be the first gentleman in the neighbourhood, was reduced to a state of complete dependence on his father's inveterate enemy; and lives in his own house as a servant, deprived of the advantage of wages: quite unable to right himself, because of his friendlessness, and his ignorance that he has been wronged." (Bronte 127) Also in regards Hareton Earnshaw, Healthcliff did not see that Hareton Earnshaw was a reflection of himself. The way in which abuse is considered a villain activity, is because it degrades and makes all of the characters suffer. This makes the characters problems intertwine with each other.

Around this time, Heathcliff has fallen in love with Catherine and has tried to sneak away with her on a number of occasions. Catherine was his true love even though he married Isabella Linton. Catherine later is seen saying to Nelly, "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now." (Bronte Chapter 9). Catherine and Healthcliff seemed to be having a love affair while they were both married to different people. Healthcliff was abusive to Catherine because of the back and fourth movement of their relationship. In one of the many conversations that Heathcliff and Catherine have, there is an example of how Healthcliff was abusive as Catherine said to Heathcliff, "It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands, he answered. Kiss me again; and don't let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murder- but yours! How can I?" (Bronte 110). This statement is one of the most key passages in Wuthering Heights because the statement "I love my murder- but yours! How can I?" (Bronte 110). This statement is not considered abuse, but the statement of abuse is "Kiss me again; and don't let me see your eyes!" (Bronte110).

This is very important because he still loves Catherine, but yet when he tells her to kiss him, Healthcliff does not want to see her eyes. This could be considered abuse because he does not show the love that he has for Catherine. This statement crushes Healthcliff and he leaves all that he has known behind for three years and no one, not even Heathcliff knows that happened to him in this time. After Heathcliff returns years later, Healthcliff is living, Mr. Earnshaw died, and Hindley Earnshaw and Frances Earnshaw gained custody of Healthcliff. When this happened Healthcliff was treated horribly. Hindley Earnshaw, "drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate and insisted that he should labour our of doors; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm," (Bronte 30). This abuse of Heathcliff created him to become an isolated and lonely man, who was really only use to being alone by himself.
Healthcliff ends up marrying Isabella Linton, who he does not truly love. One act of villainy that Healthcliff creates is when, "the first thing she saw me [Healthcliff] do, on coming out of the Grange, was to hang up her little dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered were a wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her." (Bronte 102). This villain task of Healthcliff's shows that he is progressing in his way of him becoming abusive to humans. This quote also shows that Healthcliff is a villain because he is a man who not only abuses animals and humans, but he abuses those who are innocent.

Linton is another person that Healthcliff brings his villainy upon. One of the examples of this is when he treats Linton the way that he was once treated in his youth. Linton is treated to be more of a slave and he is forced to do a lot of chores and labor. Along with this, he is not allowed to really learn how to read and write, and he is not included in a lot of the family activities. Linton was supposed to be very wealthy because Heathcliff owns Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, but this is not true. Linton is forced to marry Young Catherine, which is also an act of villainy plan of Heathcliff's.

In conclusion, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte presents Healthcliff as the villain in the novel. The main thing that makes Healthcliff the villain in this novel is abuse. He was not only abused by the people who he lived with, including Hindley and Catherine, but he also abused others. The people that he abused were Catherine, Hindley and Isabella. The first case includes the abuse of Isabella Linton's dog and his marriage to Isabella Linton. The second form of abuse is that of Hareton Earnshaw and Linton. This all brings home the central point that Healthcliff does not care for anyone but himself and his own well being. This also shows that Healthcliff is indeed the villain in Wuthering Heights. This is a timeless work of literature that should be read over and over.

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