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Wuthering Heights Essay: The Byronic Hero

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Wuthering Heights Essay: The Byronic Hero In Emily Bronte’s novel, wuthering heights, the protagonist, Heathcliff is classified as a Byronic Hero. The term Byronic hero originated from the writings of lord Byron that describe an idealized but flawed character. A Byronic Hero lacks a heroic virtue and possesses many dark qualities such as being isolated from society; moody by nature or having emotional/ intelligent capacities that surpasses the average man and mysterious origins. Heathcliff is considered a Byronic Hero, for he possesses these characteristics.

Heathcliff, as a Byronic Hero, is the loner in the novel. His behavior is the boulder that pushes others away from him. As the story progresses he is “more and more disinclined to society” (293), which shows the spiraling of his life due to his isolation. The more he obsessed over Catherine Earnshaw, the less he cared for others. He truly loves her and even resorts to asking her to “haunt [him] always—take any form—drive [him] mad” (158) after her death. He “cannot live without [his] soul” (158), which implies that he is already dead, in mind, and has no need for any possessions or other people.

Heathcliff is satisfied with only having Catherine. In addition, Heathcliff’s emotional capacities exceed the capacities of the average human being. Heathcliff is dramatic as a main character, for he takes what occurred during his difficult childhood and spreads the misery from it to others within his reach. Heathcliff was “hardened … to ill treatment: he would stand Hindley’s blows without winking or shedding a tear” (34). Hindley envied Heathcliff because of the attention Heathcliff received from Mr. Earnshaw.

The hero swears to get revenge on Hindley for all of the injustice he caused him. Even after Hindley’s death, he still takes revenge on the second generation of Earnshaws. He treats Hareton, Hindley’s son, the same way he was treated growing up. He takes all that belongs to him away and treats him like a servant to “see if one tree wont grow as crooked as another, with the same wind that twists it” (176). This shows that Heathcliff does not care about anything, but to spread his misery to everyone as his revenge.

Having mysterious origins is also included in the characteristics of a Byronic Hero. As a child the only known thing about Heathcliff when he was picked up by Catherine and Hindley’s father was that he was “ starving and houseless … in the streets of Liverpool” (33), and “not a soul knew whom it belonged” (33). Heathcliff practically came from nothing as the novel describes. When Heathcliff returns from being gone so long from Wuthering Heights, he is rich unlike before. As Nelly narrates her story to the tenant, Mr.

Lockwood, she explains how she “didn’t know how [Heathcliff] gained his money” (85). His wealth was a mystery to everyone in the house. Heath is a dark, gloomy, and tragic soul; therefore, he meets the criteria of a classic Byronic Hero. His passion for revenge destroys him and affects the people surrounding him. The miserable experiences from his past reflect his acquired attitude in the present. He is a loner, moody, and is mysterious in most aspects, which concludes that he is a Byronic Hero.

Author: Donnie Mathes

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Wuthering Heights Essay: The Byronic Hero

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