Yesterday, I happened to discuss books and novels with one of my colleagues. During our discourse, we started talking about Wuthering Heights, a novel from a Victorian author—Emily Bronte. This is the only novel she has written but is equal to dozens of novels written by her contemporaries. Our talk reminded me of the mysterious, malevolent and fascinating character—Heathcliff.
Who is Heathcliff? Well, Heathcliff is not only a fictional creation by Emily Bronte in her novel Wuthering Heights. It’s you and me. It’s our angst, outburst and the volcanic eruption of our feelings. Summing up this character only as a villainous tragic hero is, by all means, an attempt to read the book without applying our comprehension. Thus, it’s more than that. Believe me. A discovery of the human psyche which supersedes our conscience and drives us into wilderness, forces us to take unusual steps that others deplore. It’s the voice of our darkened conscience where rapacious emotions like jealousy and revenge arbitrarily nurture.
The man, of course, remains the victim of the abuse, neglect and scorn in his childhood which turns him ruthless and tyrant. His unbridled love for Catherine Earnshaw also puts him somewhat into a romantic hero category, an archetype which has normally been the subject of Byron’s chivalric poetry, but the way he deals with his love or in other words the way Emily has drawn him, it is incomparable, diabolic and dangerous. His attempt to unearth the grave of Catherine Earnshaw and embrace her dead body leaves the readers like me aghast and shaken within.
I would not speak about how it has been narrated, what its narrative technique is like and what the loopholes are. Instead, I would insist the novel entertains, makes us think and makes us peep into our own self so that we could identify a Heathcliff within. Thus, Heathcliff carries the components of both the hero as well as the villain like every one of us.
I would urge the readers to take a look at the book again and fathom the psychological battle which Heathcliff went through. I’m sure you would find him no different than any of us.