Heathcliff is the protagonist of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and his complex personality can be interpreted differently. Some refer to him as a Byronic Hero, while others see him as a villain associated with the devil. However, Heathcliff’s charisma and passion make him an attractive character to readers.
The concept of the Byronic Hero emerged from Lord Byron’s poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and became an archetype for many literary characters. Typically, the Byronic Hero is someone intelligent, mysterious, and charismatic, but also cynical and selfish.
Heathcliff is initially a prideful man who brings misfortune to those around him. He is driven by vengeance and holds grudges from the past. He is an outcast, withdrawn from reality and fixed on himself. His love for Catherine is obsessive, and his passionate nature attracts readers while also destroying his own life.
However, the young Heathcliff is a more positive character than the grown-up man he becomes. His circumstances of birth and treatment by those around him made him pessimistic and gloomy, and constant bullying made him vindictive. Despite this, Heathcliff has the capacity to love deeply, but hides those feelings deep inside.
Brontë uses a unique psychological formula to create the character of Heathcliff, which has since been used in many famous literary works. The Byronic Hero continues to evolve and exist in many works of pop culture.
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