Heathcliff as a Byronic Heros

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The Byronic hero is a character defined by Thomas B. Macaulay as proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow and misery in his heart…implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection. Heathcliff from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is a perfect example of a Byronic hero. Despite being a man who has sinned, who lives for revenge, and who is often cruel, the reader can also feel sorry for him. Heathcliff’s early life at Wuthering Heights was filled with bullying from his stepbrother and unrequited love for his stepsister, Catherine. After Catherine’s death, Heathcliff’s misery and cruelty spread to those around him, leading to a lonely and sad end. Heathcliff spends most of his time considering ways to get revenge on those who hurt him, including hurting their children.

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According to The Oxford Companion to English Literature (Oxford University Press, New York, 1985), a Byronic hero is characterized as “proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart…implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection.” In Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” the main character Heathcliff perfectly exemplifies this definition. Despite being driven by vengeance and sinning, there are moments where sympathy arises for him. From the beginning of the book when he arrives at Wuthering Heights as an orphaned boy and becomes a target of Hindley’s bullying due to their father’s attention rivalry, one can’t help but feel sorry for Heathcliff. He is described using characteristics such as “dark” and “fiend.” Throughout his early years at Wuthering Heights, he continues to suffer from his stepbrother’s torment. As he grows older, Heathcliff falls deeply in love with Catherine despite her choosing to marry Edgar Linton – a man of higher status and wealth. This choice deeply wounds Heathcliff from which he never recovers. Following Catherine’s death, his cruelty and misery intensify leading him to mistreat those around him indiscriminately.In the later years, Heathcliff passes away, solitary and burdened by sadness. Throughout his existence, he consistently contemplates various means to retaliate against those who have harmed him, yearning for vengeance in two distinct ways.

One way to seek revenge is by causing harm to the children of those who have hurt him. For instance, he demonstrates extreme cruelty towards Hareton Earnshaw, the son of Hindley. In…

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Heathcliff as a Byronic Heros. (2018, Feb 03). Retrieved from


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