Wuthering Heights Heathcliff-Hero or Dickweed?

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MagicToenail
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08 Aug 2013, 6:58 am

Emily Bronte's own sister Charlotte had a dislike of Heathcliff.
Did the abuse he heap upon Isabella, Hareton and his own son, Linton make him a irredeemable character? Or did his status as an outsider (an orphan with Gypsy blood who was himself abused) excuse, at least in part his behavior?
http://www.literature.org/authors/bront ... g-heights/



MjrMajorMajor
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08 Aug 2013, 9:04 am

A tragic, yet vindictive dickweed.



greyjay
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08 Aug 2013, 9:14 am

It's a frame narrative with an unreliable and judgemental narrator. It makes the charactors hard to judge because you don't know where exactly the facts of the story end and Nelly's interpretation and misrepresentation begins. I read him as a tragic anti-hero who develops into a dickweed. I read Nelly and Hindley as the villains. Heathcliff acts likea dickweed out of vengeance, Nelly is just bigoted.

It's also an interesting comment on the whole changeling narrative, problematizing the way that changelings had come to be portrayed in some branches of folklore as unambiguously evil



Fnord
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08 Aug 2013, 9:46 am

greyjay wrote:
... I read him as a tragic anti-hero who develops into a dickweed. I read Nelly and Hindley as the villains. Heathcliff acts likea dickweed out of vengeance, Nelly is just bigoted.

This^. I'm re-reading the story, and right now my sympathies are with Heathcliff, but I know they'll change by the end of the book.

greyjay wrote:
It's also an interesting comment on the whole changeling narrative, problematizing the way that changelings had come to be portrayed in some branches of folklore as unambiguously evil

As opposed to the Redemptive narrative, perhaps? This is where the evil ne'er-do-well ends up as the real hero of the story - usually after sacrificing his own life for the lives of others.

By the way, Wuthering Heights is now in the public domain, and the Gutenberg Project is allowing free downloads.



greyjay
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08 Aug 2013, 1:09 pm

Fnord wrote:
...As opposed to the Redemptive narrative, perhaps? This is where the evil ne'er-do-well ends up as the real hero of the story - usually after sacrificing his own life for the lives of others.

I was thinking more along the lines of commenting on foundling/changeling stories where the "other" child has to be destroyed in order to bring the "real" chid back or restore peace to the family. The changeling is largely unsettling, but passive in these stories. The setting of Wuthering Heights and its supernatural elements make some allusion to this tradition. Heathcliff is still destroyed to bring restoration, but it is in many ways a self destruction. Now that you mention it though, it could also be read as a critique of redemption narratives as well. Heathcliff is not redeemed by his self destruction and he certainly doesn't sacrifice himself for the other characters.



Crowi
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09 Aug 2013, 8:13 am

Personally, I think Heathcliff needs to grow up and stop behaving like a stroppy toddler.
So... Dickweed.



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