During my recent reading of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, I found the following two quotes, one from the Introduction written by Charlotte Bronte, the other by the Whoever-It-Was that Barnes & Noble has write the Afterwords for their lovely little red classics.
"Heathcliff, indeed, stands unredeemed; never once swerving in his arrow-straight course to perdition, from the time when 'the little black-haired, swarthy thing...' was first unrolled out of the bundle and set on its feet in the farmhouse kitchen, to the hour when Nelly Dean found the grim, stalwart corpse... with wide-gazing eyes that seemed 'to sneer at her attempt to close them, and parted lips and sharp white teeth that sneered too."
"He is no devil, just a man defeated in his love for the one thing he actually desires. His subsequent greed and inhuman treatment of others, while unforgivable, are at least understandable as we learn of how poorly he was treated."
Ok, so... in 1850, Heathcliff is Just Plain Bad. But in 2004, he's a victim of his environment.
Uh huh. Interesting.