Foster son of Mr. Earnshaw; foster brother of Hindley and Catherine; husband of Isabella; father of Linton. Heathcliff is the conflicted villain/hero of the novel. Mr. Earnshaw finds him on the street and brings him home to Wuthering Heights, where he and Catherine become soul mates. He is the ultimate outsider, with his dark "gypsy" looks and mysterious background. Though he eventually comes to own Wuthering Heights, he never seems as fully home in the house as he does on the moors. His love for Catherine is gigantic and untamed and matters to him more than anything else, but it is never easy— it leads him to control and belittle and manipulate nearly everyone around him. Despite his many horrible deeds, Heathcliff is not a straight-out bad guy; he is a poor orphan who finds material success but not what he really wants— the love of Catherine.
Heathcliff Quotes in Wuthering Heights
The Wuthering Heights quotes below are all either spoken by Heathcliff or refer to Heathcliff. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Wuthering Heights published in 2009.).
Chapter 1 Quotes
But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman, that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire.
Chapter 3 Quotes
The ledge, where I placed my candle, had a few mildewed books piled up in one corner; and it was covered with writing scratched on the paint. This writing, however, was nothing but a name repeated in all kinds of characters, large and small—Catherine Earnshaw, here and there varied to Catherine Heathcliff, and then again to Catherine Linton.
Chapter 8 Quotes
Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends, as one came in and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect.
Chapter 9 Quotes
I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and [Edgar's] is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
Nelly, I see now, you think me a selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married we should be beggars? whereas, if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother's power?
My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath—a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!
Chapter 11 Quotes
Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend—if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity!
Chapter 15 Quotes
You teach me how cruel you've been—cruel and false. Why do you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry, and wring out my kisses and tears; they'll blight you—they'll damn you. You loved me—then what right had you to leave me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.
Chapter 16 Quotes
Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe—I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!
Chapter 17 Quotes
Chapter 20 Quotes
My son is prospective owner of your place, and I should not wish him to die till I was certain of being his successor. Besides he's mine, and I want the triumph of seeing my descendant fairly lord of their estates: my child hiring their children to till their father's land for wages. That is the sole consideration which can make me endure the whelp: I despise him for himself, and hate him for the memories he revives!
Chapter 29 Quotes
I got the sexton, who was digging Linton's grave, to remove the earth off her coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there, when I saw her face again—it is hers yet—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change, if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up—not Linton's side, damn him! I wish he'd been soldered in lead—and I bribed the sexton to pull it away, when I'm laid there, and slide mine out too. I'll have it made so, and then, by the time Linton gets to us, he'll not know which is which!"
Chapter 33 Quotes
'It is a poor conclusion, is it not?' he observed, having brooded awhile on the scene he had just witnessed: 'an absurd termination to my violent exertions? I get levers and mattocks to demolish the two houses, and train myself to be capable of working like Hercules, and when everything is ready and in my power, I find the will to lift a slate off either roof has vanished! My old enemies have not beaten me; now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their representatives: I could do it; and none could hinder me. But where is the use? I don't care for striking: I can't take the trouble to raise my hand! That sounds as if I had been labouring the whole time only to exhibit a fine trait of magnanimity. It is far from being the case: I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.
Heathcliff Character Timeline in Wuthering Heights
The timeline below shows where the character Heathcliff appears in Wuthering Heights. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...himself. She continues to beg, and he cries out. His yell carries into the real world—Heathcliff hears it and comes running. He's upset to find Lockwood in the room, while Lockwood's... (full context)
...Grange, Lockwood starts feeling lonely and asks his housekeeper, Nelly Dean, to tell him about Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights. Nelly Dean says she grew up at Wuthering Heights with Hindley and... (full context)
...kind man. When Nelly was little, he returned from a business trip to Liverpool with Heathcliff, an orphan boy he'd found on the street. Earnshaw's daughter, Catherine, took to her foster... (full context)
...passes. Mr. Earnshaw's health deteriorates, and he becomes even less accepting of Hindley's behavior toward Heathcliff. He sends Hindley away to college, allowing Catherine and Heathcliff to grow closer. (full context)
...rigid religious beliefs. Meanwhile, to her father's dismay, Catherine is constantly going on adventures with Heathcliff and getting into trouble. Though she teases her father about this, she loves him deeply... (full context)
...and insist that Catherine stay with them while she heals. But they are shocked at Heathcliff's rough clothes and language and refuse to let him stay with Catherine. Before leaving, Heathcliff... (full context)
...to a daughter, Cathy, two months prematurely. Catherine dies two hours later. When Nelly brings Heathcliff the news, he seems somehow to already know. He curses Catherine for the pain she's... (full context)
...Catherine's funeral, but fell apart the morning of the funeral and started drinking. Then, while Heathcliff was out standing vigil at Catherine's grave, Hindley locked the doors of Wuthering Heights to... (full context)
...the Grange. But Nelly is shocked to learn that Hindley died deeply in debt to Heathcliff, who now owns Wuthering Heights. In addition, Heathcliff refuses to let Hareton leave Wuthering Heights,... (full context)
...Heights the next morning. To make the fearful Linton feel better Nelly assures him of Heathcliff's goodness. But Heathcliff proves Nelly is lying from the moment he appears—he refers to Linton... (full context)
...though Cathy doesn't entirely understand he does manage to get across how much he despises Heathcliff. Edgar also asks his daughter not to have any contact with Linton, but Cathy doesn't... (full context)
...but they fail and return without her. Meanwhile, in order to keep Cathy's inheritance from Heathcliff, Edgar decides to place the inheritance in the hands of trustees. He sends for his... (full context)
Lockwood leaves Wuthering Heights and walks through the moors to the churchyard where Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar are buried. He writes that though the local villagers say that they... (full context)