Wuthering Heights

1088 Words Mar 17th, 2011 5 Pages
How does Emily Brontë make us sympathize with Heathcliff?

Heathcliff is a ruthless character. No obstacle ever gets in his way when it comes to exacting revenge on several other characters in the novel, be it Hindley or Edgar Linton. He will kill or torture young and old to pay back those who have hurt him and deprived him of his love for Catherine. However, among all these atrocities, we still feel great sympathy for him. This is mainly due to the many techniques employed by Brontë and the effect of these in creating understanding and pity for Heathcliff.

Perhaps the most significant factor that makes us sympathize with Heathcliff is his troubled and problematic character. Two particular incidents highlight this point very well.
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This heart warming scene shows us that Heathcliff genuinely loves Cathy and her father, and furthermore sheds light on his unfortunate up-bringing at the hands of Hindley.

Perhaps the most influential factor is the narrative. The main narrative consists of Nelly Dean – the house keeper. When the ‘dirty ragged, black-haired child’ just arrived at Wuthering Heights, she was the only character that took to Heathcliff. When, in chapter 7, Cathy returns from her vacation at Thrushcross Grange, she jokingly calls Heathcliff ‘dirty’. Hurt by these comments, and Cathy’s ‘new look’, Heathcliff hides himself away. When Nelly goes to comfort Heathcliff, it is her speculation about his past that makes the audience wish that his father was the ‘Emperor of China’, and mother ‘an Indian queen.’ Brontë plays on the fact that the audience don’t know anything about Heathcliff’s past apart from him being found by Earnshaw in Liverpool. By touching on this topic lightly by suggesting that Heathcliff in fact has a royal and rich past, the audience is able to sympathize with this character more, as he doesn’t deserve to face to abuse that he does from the hands of Hindley. Spoken in the third person narrative, Nelly is able not only to describe to Lockwood (and us, the audience) the sequence of events to unfold at the Heights, but also pass judgement on characters and the significance of events. The audience, have no

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