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Love is a two way street. In order for love to work it must be given and returned. If love is left unfulfilled it can lead a person to be spiteful, vengeful, and at the extreme villainous. In Emily Bronte's novel, Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is the villain because he is frustrated about his unrequited love for Cathy. Heathcliff's villainy is apparent in how he treats the Earnshaws, degrading Hindley and Hareton just as Hindley did him. This is also shown in his actions against the Lintons.
Heathcliff hates the Lintons because Cathy married Edgar. Heathcliff uses his treachery to steal away the Linton fortune and to degrade their offspring. Heathcliff's villainy is finally shown in how he treats Cathy herself. He loves her so much he hates her. He feels that Cathy betrayed her heart and married Edgar. Heathcliff as the villain is first shown in his actions against the Earnshaws.
When Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights after several years, his frustration leads him to exact revenge on Hindley Earnshaw. Heathcliff blames Hindley for Cathy not returning his love and becoming married to Edgar. Hindley reduced Heathcliff to such a status that it would ruin Cathy to marry him. Heathcliff's villainy is shown when he returns the favour to Hindley, reducing him and his son Hareton to servant class. This is apparent when Heathcliff is talking to Nellie about his joy in degrading Hareton, he says, I've pleasure in him!..He has satisfied my expectations - if he were born a fool I should not enjoy it half so much - But he's no fool; and I can sympathise with all his feelings, having felt them myself - I know what he suffers now, for instance exactly - it is merely a beginning of what he shall suffer though. And he'll never be able to emerge from his bathos of coarseness, and ignorance. I've got him faster than his scoundral of a father secured me, and lower; for he takes a pride in his brutishness. (252-253)This is also shown when Heathcliff accidentally saves Hareton from certain death. This is apparent when Nellie says, 'A miser who has parted with a lucky lottery ticket for five shillings, and finds next day he has lost in the bargain five thousand pounds, could not show a blanker countance than he did on beholding the figure of Earnshaw above - It expresses..the intense anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own revenge.'(Bronte, 115) These quotes clearly show Heathcliff's villainy through his actions towards the Earnshaws.
Heathcliff is also shown as the villain by his vengeful actions against the Lintons. Cathy married Edgar Linton for his status and wealth, betraying her love for Heathcliff. Heathcliff is so frustrated that Cathy married Linton that he seeks to destroy the entire Linton family. Heathcliff achieves this by marrying Isabella Linton. Isabella believes that Heathcliff is a kind decent man; however, soon after she marries him, he becomes abusive. Heathcliff's true intentions of revenge are shown when Cathy says, 'Pray, don't imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! He's not a rough diamond - a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic; he's a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man..I know he couldn't love a Linton; and yet, he'd be quite capable of marrying your fortune..'(142) This is also shown in a letter from Isabella to Nellie in which she says, ..he is ingenious and unresting in seeking to gain my abhorrence!..I assure you, a tiger, or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which he awakens.
He told me of Catherine's illness, and accused my brother of causing it, promising that I should be Edgar's proxy in suffering, till he could get a hold of him.(181)Heathcliff's villainy is also shown when he has a son, named Linton. Heathcliff has his son married to Edgar and Cathy's daughter, Catherine. He has Linton pretend to love Catherine so that she will marry, but soon turns his son against her, having Linton leave all the inheritance of the Linton family fortune to Heathcliff, finally exacting his revenge on the Linton family. Heathcliff as the villain is finally shown in his actions against Cathy herself. Heathcliff's whole evil nature stems from his frustration that Cathy betrayed her heart and his when she married Edgar Linton. Heathcliff is so angry he condemns her soul when she dies, hoping that she may never rest in peace, that her spirit will always wander the earth, anything just so long as she does not leave him again. This is shown when Heathcliff says, May she wake in torment!..Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there - not in heaven - not perished - where? ..And I pray one prayer..Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living!..Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!' (204) This quote shows Heathcliff's love for Cathy; his love is strong enough to cause him to curse her soul rather than go without her.
His villainy is also shown when he talks to Cathy when she is sick. He condemns her for breaking both his heart and hers. This is apparent when Heathcliff says, 'Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort - you deserve this. You have killed yourself..They'll blight you - they'll damn you. You loved me - then what right did you to leave me?..I have not broken your heart - you have broken it - and in breaking it, you have broken mine.' (197) This quote shows Heathcliff's anger, and his blaming of Cathy for his becoming a villain. Heathcliff as the villain is shown through his actions towards people.
In the novel, Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is a villain. He is a villain because of his unrequited love for Cathy. His villainy is shown though his actions towards the Earnshaws, a famliy that degraded him, the Lintons, the people he believes stole Cathy away from him, and Cathy herself, the woman he feels betrayed her heart and his love. Heathcliff felt that he did not have Cathy's love, when all the time he truly owned her heart. Without love being returned jealousy and anger could make villains of all.
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