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Wuthering Heights: The Outsider
Transcript of Wuthering Heights: The Outsider
"that gipsy brat" and "dark almost as if it came from the devil".
The use of the adjective "gypsy" already creates a distance from Heathcliff as it portrays him as something different and strange. Compounded with the following simile it clearly suggests that his dark skin is a negative characteristic, enough so that it warrants comparison to the devil. However this is quite typical of the time where racism was still common and even more so in rural areas, typically "behind the times".
Heathcliff was considered an outsider before anyone even knew him due to his race. Racism Heathcliff is at once a victim and a beneficiary of the class system. On the one hand he manages to become a respectable gentlemen in the tumult of the industrial revolution, "His manner was even dignified" and on the other he loses Cathy to Edgar partially due to their difference in position, "it would degrade her to marry him".
The use of verb "degrade" suggests that Heathcliff is of a different, lower social class that Cathy, an outsider as it were, and as such can't marry him. However it also hints at how Cathy is afraid that in marrying him she would lose her own position in society and become an outsider. In the wake of the French Revolution this becomes an even bigger concern as stories abound of those who have lost their position, and as such their life.
Class effectively isolates characters who try and reach beyond their deginated class. Class Loner Strange Mysterious Strong or Weak? Nervous Dangerous Powerful Dark Secret Cool Awkward Fear Society Discrimination Victim While Heathcliff is the most obvious outsider within the novel several other characters are also outsiders to slightly lesser degrees. Sometimes this is due to their own personality but in some cases they are dragged down by others. Characters Heathcliff seems to enjoy allowing other to experience what he has had to, forcing both Haerton , Catherine Linton and Isabella to live without real company within Wuthering Heights. Isabella learns of what she has committed to when she goes to eat dinner,
"having waited till all was cold on the table, I commenced alone."
This shows us how although she had thrown away her family ties for Heathcliff's company she has also been deprived of that small consolation. It is also symbolic of how the Outsider must fend for themselves though Isabella does wait for a while, attempting to cling to what she has left behind. Heathcliff's Influence Often what people go through in childhood will affect them in later life. In Linton's and Heathcliff's case it maybe an explanation as to their behavior and how it drives other away from them. Nelly comments that Heathcliff's treatment was
"enough to make a fiend of a saint"
suggesting that perhaps his antisocial behavior was due to his treatment. However we should note the recurring imagery of darkness and fiends which was linked to Heathcliff from the moment he came into the house. Perhaps it wasn't so much the harsh treatment he received but the expectation that he was going to be the fiend. After so long being treated as such he seems to have grown into the role and flourished. Childhood Education is used as a tool to both create outsiders and also to escape that role. Haerton is initially deprived of any formal education by Heathcliff and as such is looked down upon by Linton and Cathy. Linton calls him
"a colossal dunce" because "He does not know his letters"
showing his contempt for him and in doing so forcing him away from Cathy. Being educated gives a certain power over those who are not as education in the rural areas of England would not been a right but a privelege which comes with being wealthy. It is interesting to note how the outsiders seem to compete with one another to win over someones affections while simultaneously trying to force others into being outsiders. Education Dark Secrets While there are many reasons that certain characters are forced into the role of the Outsider, Heathcliff does atcually peform actions worthy of this role. His careless violence is one aspect of this but another is his obsession with Catherine, he even goes so far as to "remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it.". He then proceeds to stare at her corpse, almost trapped by it until the sexton attracted his attention. These are clearly actions that speak of something wrong with him but whether he was always like this or whether this is what he was forced into being is debatable. While some of the characters may be an outsider in some groups they may actually belong to others. This is most evident with Lockwood and Heathcliff. Lockwood comes from the city and has no family ties in the Wuthering Heights area but appears to be well respected back in the city. Heathcliff on the other hand seems more at home with animals and nature, "growled Heathcliff, in unison" with one of his dogs. This seems to liken Heathcliff to more of an animal than a man and perhaps suggests that he is "part of the pack" as it were. Nature