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Is Heathcliff Adopted in Wuthering Heights? What Role Does His Origin Play in The Novel?

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In the novel, the reader learns that Mr. Earnshaw, Catherine’s father, adopted Heathcliff. The protagonist’s origin is the central secret of the story. No one knows who Heathcliff’s parents are or where he comes from. The fact that the protagonist’s lineage remains a mystery is important. It plays an essential role in developing the character. It also serves as a reason for Catherine’s betrayal.

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë was published in 1847. It is considered a classic example of romantic literature. It is a love tale written in the genre of a Gothic novel. The book tells a story of fifty years. Throughout the novel, the past and the present are constantly compared. The central plot of Wuthering Heights is the love story of Catherine Earnshaw and the adopted boy – Heathcliff.
Catherine and Heathcliff were inseparable as children. With time, their childhood affection grew into a strong feeling. Both characters carried this feeling throughout their whole lives.
The passion they have for each other is destructive. However, Catherine and Heathcliff cannot resist their feelings. Even after Catherine dies, Heathcliff experiences endless torment. He lives in the hope of at least seeing the ghost of his beloved.
In the novel, Emily Brontë tells the story of Heathcliff’s adoption. During one of his trips to Liverpool, Mr. Earnshaw finds a starving orphan. The man picks up a grimy child who is dying of hunger. He brings him home and gives him a name – Heathcliff. Mr. Earnshaw names the boy after his dead son. Hindley, Catherine’s brother, humiliates Heathcliff in every possible way. Catherine, on the contrary, becomes friends with the boy. They grow up side by side and become attached to one another. Heathcliff lives for his love of Catherine.
One of the distinctive characteristics of the novel is the author’s use of silence. Emily Brontë does not reveal things directly in the book. Specific details are kept hidden from both the characters and the reader. Heathcliff’s origin remains unknown. The reader also never learns how the man becomes rich and turns into a real gentleman after a three-year absence from Wuthering Heights.
Heathcliff is portrayed as a romantic hero. He acts against everyone. His relationship with Catherine’s brother is bad since childhood. Heathcliff’s relationship with his own son is not a friendly one as well. He does not get well with Catherine’s daughter and nephew.
There is an assumption that Heathcliff may be a hellish spirit or demon. Two points contribute to this hypothesis. First, the fact that the circumstances of the protagonist’s birth and early childhood stay unknown. Second, the dark characters and the Gothic theme of the supernatural that is present throughout the novel.
The writer characterizes Heathcliff as an evil, reclusive person. When Mr. Lockwood first meets the protagonist, he decides that the man is merely modest. After certain events, however, Lockwood fundamentally changes his opinion about him.
Heathcliff is possessive over Catherine. He is angry and vindictive. His revenge extends not only to enemies but to their children, as well. Heathcliff’s origin may serve as the reason for such behavior. He is a rejected child, an orphan who had to endure a lot of difficulties. Therefore, he seeks Catherine’s love that can soothe his violent and wounded soul. Emily Brontë leaves it up to the reader to decide whether Heathcliff is a villain or a hero.
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"Is Heathcliff Adopted in Wuthering Heights? What Role Does His Origin Play in The Novel?" IvyPanda, 1 June 2021, ivypanda.com/q/is-heathcliff-adopted-in-wuthering-heights-what-role-does-his-origin-play-in-the-novel/.

1. IvyPanda. "Is Heathcliff Adopted in Wuthering Heights? What Role Does His Origin Play in The Novel?" June 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/is-heathcliff-adopted-in-wuthering-heights-what-role-does-his-origin-play-in-the-novel/.


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IvyPanda. "Is Heathcliff Adopted in Wuthering Heights? What Role Does His Origin Play in The Novel?" June 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/is-heathcliff-adopted-in-wuthering-heights-what-role-does-his-origin-play-in-the-novel/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Is Heathcliff Adopted in Wuthering Heights? What Role Does His Origin Play in The Novel?" June 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/is-heathcliff-adopted-in-wuthering-heights-what-role-does-his-origin-play-in-the-novel/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Is Heathcliff Adopted in Wuthering Heights? What Role Does His Origin Play in The Novel'. 1 June.

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