Many great works of literature center their plots and characters around a main ambiguous character. These ambiguous characters are characters whose behavior and persona may be too complex for the audience to completely distinguish them as either purely good or purely evil. When referring to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, I feel that there are two clear ambiguous characters: Catherine and Heathcliff.
Both of these characters are complex enough for the audience to question if they are truly good or evil characters; yet I feel that the story of Wuthering Heights specifically centers around Heathcliff’s ambiguity. Heathcliff can be viewed as an ambiguous character in many ways; one of the most obvious being his desires for both love and revenge. As an audience, we see how pure his love is for Catherine in the ways he talks to and about her, and his behavior when he is with her. We also see his burning passion for Catherine when he becomes furious as he overhears her saying she could never marry him. His fiery desire for Catherine makes the audience see that, so far, Heathcliff is a genuine, pure, and good character. However, as the novel progresses, we as an audience begin to see his other desire: revenge. Heathcliff shows another side of himself when Catherine dies. The audience begins to see that this man can be very evil and cold-hearted just because he yearns revenge for never getting what he truly wanted.
This is the turning point in the novel where his desire for revenge overpowers his love for Catherine. He can never fully forgive Catherine for marrying Edgar, so when she dies, his main aim is to gain revenge. He takes control of Wuthering Heights, and everything that is Edgar’s. He even goes as far as trying to ruin Young Catherine’s life.
All of these factors of revenge make the audience fear him, and decide that he actually can be as evil as he is good, thus proving his ambiguous character. It is difficult to decide whether to like or dislike Heathcliff because every action he makes and words he says are emotional, powerful, and heart felt. The audience falls for him as a whole when they first see his love for Catherine, and continue to fall for him throughout the novel. Then, however, they become torn when Heathcliff begins to take his revenge. The audience knows his revenge comes completely from being obsessively in love with Catherine, but cannot seem to negate the things he does because of this obsession.
In Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, it is clear to see how an entire story can revolve around an ambiguous character. The plot of this story flows so fluidly all because of a man’s love for a woman, and his obsession with revenge when he cannot have her. Without Heathcliff and his ambiguity, Wuthering Heights would never had been such a powerful and dramatic story.