How Is Heathcliff A Byronic Hero?

Updated 30 September, 2023
In Gothic fiction, the figure of a dangerous, yet attractive man with a mysterious past is regularly featured. In Wuthering Heights Heathcliff is a deeply vengeful character with an exotic appearance and passionate nature. He embodies a force that is powerful and destructive. This makes him a prime example of the ‘Byronic hero’ – someone ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ and yet the audience still wants to.
Detailed answer:

From literary perspective, Heathcliff can be exemplified as the Byronic hero, who is wronged by the conditions.
To start with, Heathcliff could be called a Byronic hero, because of his dark and complex being, which prompts to his dismissal and alienation. Since his beginnings are questionable, the 'gypsy' of old Mr. Earnshaw with no name, social status, or possessions is named after a child who died at birth. Constantly viewed and stamped as a gypsy, he is damned to remain in propriety. Taking his looks into consideration, he is rejected by the society and turns into an outcast, since he is thought to have a place with low-life norms.
Another crucial characteristic of Byronic hero is his grand yet destructive passion. Love here is depicted as a torment. Their passion to one another is composed of jealousy, anger Fand hatred, making everyone around him. Heathcliff’s cherishment about Catherine is the motivation of his cruelty. He would not have minded Hindley’s degradation if Catherine would have remained by him; yetis caused Catherine’s rejection, so he must destroy Hindley. Their affection is so strong that the hero could not cope with his own emotions. Heathcliff’s misery and yearning for power, leads to other sorrow.
There are likewise a lot of negative qualities that Heathcliff shares with the Byronic hero. To begin with, he comes across as diabolant and violent, he can even be characterized as an embodiment of dark powers. Mr. Earnshaw introduces him as a dark man 'almost as if it came from the devil.“ When his own son is afraid of from him, Heathcliff exclaims, “You would imagine I was the devil himself – to excite such horror”. But it is Isabella who leaves the reader with the strongest impression of Heathcliff's darkness. In a letter to Nelly, Isabella wonders if Heathcliff is a man or a devil. To her Heathcliff appears 'diabolical', an 'incarnate goblin', 'a monster and not a human being', 'only half man: not so much, and the rest fiend'. Even Catherine, who loves him, describes him to Isabella as 'a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man“. His identity is mystified, and “not a soul knew to whom it belonged”. However, it is important to note that he does not start off as a negatively connoted character, yet he changes.

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