The character Heathcliff in the book "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë is one of the most interesting characters in the book as he slowly deteriorates from a person into a shadow of someone he could have been. Heathcliff nearer the end of the novel shows pleasure in the pain of others and even harsher sadistic behavior, Lochwood the new tenant at Thrushcross Grange is greeted with this behavior when trying to leave the Heights in the storm:
"The vehemence of my agitation brought on a copious bleeding at the nose, and still Heathcliff laughed.'
This type of behavior is often linked with sociopathy. Heathcliff throughout the novel shows symptoms of being a sociopath.
The first as just quoted is sadistic behavior in a minor way, nearer the end of Heathcliff it is worse, but another symptom is his grandiose sense of himself. Nelly tells us (Lockwood) as a child Heathcliff was brought home from the streets by Mr. Earnshaw.
This is not a happy event due to Mr. Earnshaw promising Cathy, Hindley and Nelly gifts from his trip, these not turning up due to Heathcliff. Mr. Earnshaw soon took a liking to his new son over his daughter and son. Heathcliff saw this and started to take advantage of Mr. Earnshaw, this is most likely due to Cathy and Hindley constantly tormenting him. This behavior can be seen in chapter 4:
"You must exchange horses with me: I don't like mine, and if you don't I shall tell your father of the three thrashings you've given me this week...'
This quotes also demonstrates the second symptom of sociopathy and this is child delinquency. At a young age, Heathcliff is extremely aggressive. Part of this could be explained by his street upbringing and again torment from Cathy and Hindley. He is already seeking revenge and cursing down on Hindley's downfall, which is extremely concerning for a child especially since he knows he can't say this in front of adults. The third symptom of Heathcliff's sociopathy is thinking the world is wrong not him. The third symptom of Heathcliff's sociopathy is thinking the world is wrong not him. This is seen many times throughout the book. This is extremely apparent after his violent beating with Hindley. After nearly beating Hindley to death and is called out by Nelly, Heathcliff blames Hindley for it due to the fact that Cathy is dead and he can't say her name, this can be seen as extreme grief or as psychopathic, either way, it is wrong and Heathcliff's fault. He also has no remorse after this beating, this is another sign of sociopathy:
"I gave him my heart and you pinched it to death and flung it to me, people feel with their hearts Nelly and mine has been destroyed!"
There are some areas in which Heathcliff does not fall into a sociopath, one of these areas is a capacity for love. The whole events of the novel happen because Heathcliff loves Cathy, although it is an obsessive love and debatable to be a real love, he shows devotion and platonic interest in Cathy:
"What kind of living shall it be when you are- (insinuated dead) oh god! Would you like to live with your soul in the grave?"
He also has a sense of shame. The only reason Heathcliff becomes rich is while ease dropping on Nelly and Cathy. If Heathcliff had not had shame he would not have cared if he was not as rich as Edgar Linton and would think that he was better in every sense. Instead, he runs away to make his riches:
"Having noticed a slight movement, I turned my head to him rising to steal out, noiselessly."
again showing shame, he sneaks out rather than make a scene moments before leaving to make his riches in America.
Inconclusion Heathcliff is a shell of a person and is a personified demon, especially nearing the end of the novel. He does not show any knowledge of the meaning to the words, love, and care. As if those words died with Catherine. He took the lovely Wuthering Heights down with him in his degradation. He abused Hindley, Isabella and more but there is one character in the end that still looks up to Heathcliff and that is Hareton. Everyone see's Heathcliff as stone cold but Hareton still cares in the end, as a young boy he looked up to him. Hareton may show us a more hopeful side to Heathcliff that is not told to us by Nelly.
Nelly gives us the evidence to a horrible sociopathy Heathcliff which may not be true.