To everyone but Catherine and Hareton, Heathcliff seems to be an inhuman monster — or even incarnate evil. From a literary perspective, he is more the embodiment of the Byronic hero (attributed to the writer George Gordon, Lord Byron), a man of stormy emotions who shuns humanity because he himself has been ostracized; a rebellious hero who functions as a law unto himself. Heathcliff is both despicable and pitiable. His one sole passion is Catherine, yet his commitment to his notion of a higher love does not seem to include forgiveness.
Readers need to determine if his revenge is focused on his lost position at Wuthering Heights, his loss of Catherine to Edgar, or if it his assertion of dignity as a human being. The difficulty most readers have relating to and understanding Heathcliff is the fact that he hates as deeply as he loves; therefore, he is despised as much as he is pitied.