Wuthering Heights As a child, all things said and done to you can have such an impact that they will affect how you live the rest of your life. Actions put upon you can become the actions that you perform on others. One such situation occurred with Heathcliff the main character in Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontÃÂ©. Heathcliff enters the story as character with an unknown past. At the age of six or seven Heathcliff's past is questionable. He could have been treated well or most likely, since he was found on the street, he was treated poorly and later abandoned. Based on the poor way Heathcliff treats other people, he must have a psychological instability, which was brought upon him in his childhood. The anger caused by this instability forces Heathcliff to emotionally destroy the people he lives closest to.
Being a mysterious character, not much is known about what kind of a person Heathcliff is.
A young boy, he seems to be as innocent as any other child is when he is brought in to the Earnshaw family. Mr. Earnshaw, being the one who brings Heathcliff into his home, obviously cares about the child's well being. A bit reluctant in acceptance at first, Mrs. Earnshaw is forced to care for what they refer to as a "beggar child" or more often a thing rather than a child. She was ready to fling it out of doors, while Nelly put it on the landing of the stairs hoping that it would be gone the next day. Without having done anything to deserve rejection, Heathcliff is made to feel like an outsider, following the death of Mr. Earnshaw, and suffers cruel mistreatment at the hands of Hindley. He immediately falls in love with their daughter Catherine and is found playing with her in the fields all of the time. However, he is deprived of love, sociability and education. He is separated from the family, reduced to the status of a servant, forced to become a farm hand, undergoes regular beatings and is forcibly separated from Catherine. For Heathcliff, the problem with the family is the son, Hindley. Hindley asserts himself as a selfish brat who is constantly hooked on the idea that he will be the sole heir to the Earnshaw estate. To him Heathcliff is a threat (being a second male son) and thus tries to make Heathcliff's life as miserable as possible. He succeeds in doing so. Hindley endlessly insults Heathcliff and reminds him that he is from the streets and is nothing more than a beggar. He goes as far as to beat up Heathcliff several times. Hindley's treatment of Heathcliff was "enough to make a fiend of a saint". Just the presence of Hindley has such a great impact on Heathcliff that he runs off to play with Cathy as much as he possibly can. He'll do anything to keep away from his new brother. As time goes on Heathcliff shows how much of an impact Hindley had on him.
In an unfortunate turn of events (for Heathcliff), Cathy finds herself in the home of the Lintons who live at Thrushcross Grange. They are a well respected and elegant family who are more than willing to take care of Cathy until her foot heals from being bitten by one of their dogs. While at the Grange, Cathy gets taste of her future is going to be and is determined to get herself into that family. Heathcliff slowly loses grasp of his one true love and is devastated. He tries everything to get Cathy back in his possession but cannot because Cathy realizes that if she were to marry Heathcliff they would live the lives of beggars. If she marries a Linton she can maintain high status and help her true love get to that same position. Heathcliff cannot deal with that, though, so he runs away probably determined to repay all of the suffering he has experienced. He must feel there is a way to hurt Cathy and Hindley for reminding him that in his heart he is still just a beggar.
Years later Heathcliff returns a rich man. The personality that Heathcliff returns with in his adult life has been formed in response to the deprivation of his childhood. Nobody knows how he gets his money or why he returns so confident since he won't tell. Hindley's wife has since died in labor and he's become a drunken mess having sold almost all of his possessions and mortgaging Wuthering Heights to pay for his alcohol. Heathcliff pays off the bank for Hindley and becomes the owner the Heights. Owning the Heights isn't enough though. "I am trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don't care how long I wait if I can only do it at last" - "I only wish I new the best way. Let me alone and I'll plan it out, while I'm thinking of that, I don't feel pain". Heathcliff decides to let Hindley drink himself to death. Hindley is too drunk to realize the mistake he's made of his life and is just living out the days with his son Hareton. Heathcliff moves in with his new servant Joseph and turns Hareton into an errand boy. He is forced to wait hand and foot on Heathcliff and do all of the hard labor outdoors. There is a maid to do all of the indoor stuff. Hindley's drunken death is Heathcliff's payback for all the childhood suffering he was put through.
To complete his revenge over the Lintons, Heathcliff employs these latter tactics - the claiming of his son and the marriage between Linton (his son) and Catherine is patiently contrived. Heathcliff's son is a sickly teenager days away from death. He feels the need to punish his son because of the punishment he received as a child. Linton is taken from the only place he knows as home the only family he has ever known. As if this weren't punishment enough Heathcliff insults his son for being feeble and sickly and never sends for doctor. This is utter torment for Linton who is constantly saying he wants to return home and to his cousin and wife Catherine (Edgar and Cathy's daughter). Eventually, after days of torture, Linton dies leaving the Grange to Heathcliff. He has now proven, by trickery and evil, that he is not a beggar and never needed any help to gain status above the Lintons. That is the ultimate revenge.
Heathcliff's final thirst for revenge is quenched however by his failure to remain passionate. In the final chapters of the novel, he is torn between two competing passions, that for revenge and that for sympathy and fondness for Hareton. Finally he possesses no ability to prevent the future happiness of the younger generation and deprived of his passion, dies. He took what he knew to be life itself and forced that wretchedness on them.