Heathcliff Character Analysis

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Emily Brontë portrays the discrimination of foreign peoples through the character of Heathcliff whose social class influences the way others treat him and his demeanor throughout the novel. Heathcliff’s destitute origins cause him to fall subject to oppression and disdain all his life from his early years growing up a gipsy in a predominately white country. Desperate for respect, Heathcliff resorts to ill means which allow him to advance in social class. One of his biggest oppressors, the Linton family, openly shames Heathcliff and expresses hatred toward him directly. When Heathcliff and Catherine get stuck at Thrushcross Grange after Skulker the dog bites Catherine’s ankle, the housemaid does not believe her eyes, “’Miss Earnshaw? Nonsense!’ cried the dame. ‘Miss Earnshaw scouring the country with a gipsy!’” (Brontë 49). The shock of the housekeeper upon finding Catherine with Heathcliff highlights his low stature. The woman cannot apprehend why an Earnshaw, of the middle class, would ever associate with the lower class, unkempt Heathcliff. Additionally, the use of the term ‘gipsy’ carries a negative connotation as English literary critic Peter Miles expounds, “Characters’ recognition of his humanity is qualified by his categorization as ‘gipsy’, as essentially outside and at war with a society of mutually reinforcing moral and economic relationships. The insult ‘gipsy’ carried a stigma in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries which was in proportion to
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