Question 7 “Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so is he mad? And if not is he a devil? ” That’s what Isabella asked Nelly in a letter she had written to her in despair short after her and Heathcliff’s hasty marriage. “I shan’t tell my reasons for making this inquiry; but I beseech you to explain, if you can, what I have married. ” She also writes that Heathcliff accuses Edgar for causing Catherine’s illness and therefore will punish her; Isabella, in his place till he can get hold of Edgar. Yes, Mr.
Heathcliff is a man; a man who due to his tragic childhood and great love for Catherine developed a very vengeful, cruel and manipulative behavior which sometimes even can be interpreted as madness. Mr. Heathcliff was from the beginning an orphan brought to Wuthering Heights by Mr. Earnshaw. Hindley, Mr. Earnshaw’s, son and Nelly hated Heathcliff from the day he arrived and treated him very bad. This was the beginning of a childhood full of tragic memories that would make Heathcliff very vengeful later in life. He seemed a sullen, patient child; hardened, perhaps, to ill-treatment: he would stand Hindley’s blows without winking or shedding a tear, and my pinches moved him only to draw in a breath and open his eyes, as if he had hurt himself by accident and nobody was to blame. ” This quote shows how Heathcliff, despite Hindley’s and Nelly’s bullying, never tried to get back at them. Perhaps his rage has been building up inside him and then one day he decided to get his revenge Also, an explanation for Heathcliff’s cruel behavior is his great love for Catherine which is the only thing he cares for.
Their love is very deep and spiritual but complicated and they have trouble expressing their love for each other and often end up fighting. The fact that they can’t be together drives Heathcliff mad. His love for Catherine is his obsession, nothing else matters and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to show his devotion even though it requires him to become a dark and cruel character. At one point Heathcliff says: “You teach me now how cruel you’ve been-cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy?…
I love my murder-but yours! How can I? ” This quote really shows Heathcliff’s strong feelings for Catherine since he can forgive her for “killing” him but not for “killing” herself by marrying Edgar. His love for Catherine is also the only sensitive side we see of Heathcliff which is a contradict to Isabella’s question: “And if not is he a devil? ” as under Heathcliff’s dark and cruel surface hides an underlying reason for his behavior, his passionate love for Catherine, which under circumstances has driven him mad.
He spends most of his life seeking revenge on Hindley, Catherine and their respective children, Hareton and young Catherine. “I’m 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 hope he will not die before I do! ” He also marries Isabella so he can punish her in her brother’s place because he thought Edgar had caused Catherine’s illness. This is what upset Isabella and made her question Heathcliff’s sanity because it’s such a terrible thing to do that any normal and sane person would find it hard to carry through.
Heathcliff is a dark and cruel character, but behind his actions lies a lot of thoughts and feelings; His unanswered, passionate love for Catherine and rage from his tragic childhood which literally is driving him mad. This is rather difficult for Isabella to understand as his behavior, from her point of view, may seem plain evil, but in order to understand him fully, you have to understand the almost supernatural love he feels for Catherine and why his past has made him so vengeful.