Heathcliff Quotes from Wuthering Heights: Examples & Analysis

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

If you're reading 'Wuthering Heights', you may find it tough to keep all the characters straight. In this lesson, we'll examine some of Heathcliff's quotes and develop a deeper understanding of his character.

First Impressions

If you've ever made a really bad first impression, you aren't alone. Most of us can relate to that. However, most of us probably can't relate to Heathcliff, a character who makes a really bad first impression because he just doesn't care and is simply a mean person.

Heathcliff is Lockwood's landlord. The first time they meet, Lockwood introduces himself and says that he hopes he is not inconveniencing anyone. Heathcliff's response, and the very first words he speaks in the book, are '' I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it--walk in!'' In other words, he is saying that no one inconveniences him because he is in control of his life.

Instead of responding with something like ''Oh, no problem. You are definitely not inconveniencing me,'' he just tells him that nothing inconveniences him. The narrator tell us that the ''the 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, ''Go to the Deuce'' Back in those days, ''Go to the deuce'' was another way of saying ''Go to hell.'' Right off the bat, we can see that Heathcliff does not seem to be an overly friendly fellow.

Eventually Lockwood makes it inside Heathcliff's house. While he is there, he encounters a few dogs who growl at him. Lockwood winks and makes faces at the dogs. In response, the dogs attack Lockwood. Heathcliff rushes back into the room where this is happening and asks what's wrong.

Lockwood complains about the dogs and Heathcliff simply tells him '''They won't meddle with persons who touch nothing,'' and ''The dogs do right to be vigilant.'' While it's nice to see Heathcliff defending his animals, he certainly shows no remorse for Lockwood. He just tells him that the dogs are right to attack him.

Heathcliff Brags About His Cruelty

Unfortunately, Heathcliff's kindness to animals does not last long. Later in the book, he hangs his wife's (Isabella's) dog. Instead of showing an ounce of remorse, he brags about it during an argument with her. He says ''The first thing she saw me do ... was to hang up her little dog; and when she pleaded for it, the first words I uttered were a wish that I had the hanging of every being belonging to her, except one.''

In other words he is pointing out that when Isabella saw him hanging the dog, she begged him to stop, and he just responded by saying that he wished he could hang everyone she loved, except one. Isabella takes this to mean her, but Heathcliff is actually talking about Catherine.

In the same exchange where Heathcliff brags about killing the dog, he also says ''I've sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention, in my experiments on what she could endure, and still creep shamefully cringing back!'' In other words, Heathcliff has sometimes taken it easy on Isabella because he has run out of ideas.

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