Throughout Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff's personality could be defined as dark, menacing, and brooding. He is a dangerous character, with rapidly changing moods, capable of deep-seeded hatred, and incapable, it seems, of any kind of forgiveness or compromise. In the first 33 chapters, the text clearly establishes Heathcliff as an untamed, volatile, wild man and establishes his great love of Catherine and her usage of him as the source of his ill humor and resentment towards many other characters. However, there are certain tensions, contradictions, and ambiguities present in Chapter 34 that establish the true intensity Heathcliff's feelings towards Catherine; feelings so intense that they border on a jealous obsession.
Chapter 34 begins with a tension in regard to Heathcliff's disposition. Since Heathcliff's countenance has seldom expressed anything but a sullen disposition, certainly nothing even remotely resembling joy, it comes as somewhat of a surprise when in the last chapter, young Cathy, upon seeing Heathcliff, reports that he looks, "almost bright and cheerful -- No, almost nothing -- very much excited, and wild and glad (276)!" This is entirely unlike the Heathcliff that has been established up until this point. Even Nelly, who is well-accustomed to Heathcliff's personality and dark moods is taken aback by the sudden change, so uncharacteristic of his usual temper --"...anxious to ascertain the truth of her statement, for to see the master looking glad would not be an everyday spectacle, I framed an excuse to go in (276)." Since Catherine has previously almost always been the cause of such wild mood fluctuations, it stands to reason th...
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...ving them subtlety and exquisitely through Nelly's narration and observations and through Heathcliff's wild moods and unpredictable actions.
Sources Cited and Consulted
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. United States of America; Barnes & Noble Inc., 1997.
Hafley, James. "The Villain in Wuthering Heights." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 13 (1958): 199-215.
Fraser, Terence. "The Layered Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights" Modern Language Quarterly 42 (1981): 48-64.
Paris, Bernard J. " 'Hush, hush! He's a Human Being': a Psychological Approach to Heathcliff." Women and Literature 2 (1982): 101-17.
Shunami, Gideon. "The Unreliable Narrator in Wuthering Heights." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 27 (1973): 449-68
Strobos, Semon. "Heathcliff and Nelly Dean as Dialogical Elements in Wuthering Heights." The Nassau Review 6 (1993): 131-39.
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