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Isabella's son Linton is not Heathcliff's biological son.
Isabella conceived him after she ran away. How many times does Nelly Dean observe that the blonde Linton looks nothing like Heathcliff? Heathcliff was content to take advantage of Isabella's infatuation with him to further his revenge schemes against Hindley and Edgar, but he also made it very clear to Nelly that he completely despised her, so in spite of the possible Fridge Horror, it doesn't seem likely he would ever have wanted to invoke the Marital Rape License against her. Of course, Heathcliff wouldn't tell anyone this because he needed an heir to complete his schemes of defrauding Edgar and Cathy (II) of their land.
  • Oh, I think Heathcliff is the kind of guy who would definitely get a kick out of raping someone he despised, especially if he could get away with it (which he could, and did) and benefit from it (forcing said person to conceive an heir/tool to his ploy).
  • It's been many years since I read the book, but I thought the implication was that Linton looked more like his mother. If he did, it would be hard to tell if Heathcliff was his father, but ultimately doesn't really prove anything either way, unfortunately. It's probably left ambiguous on purpose.
  • Linton was only born “a few months” after Isabella left Heathcliff, though. Unless by “a few” Nelly actually means “nine or ten,” there would have been no time for Isabella to conceive him with a man other than Heathcliff.
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Heathcliff is the preincarnation of Christian Grey
Both are Tall, Dark, and Handsome, intensely emotional Bastard Boyfriends adopted by rich families.

Heathcliff is a Time Lord
Come on, someone had to say it. It would also explain the above WMG about Fifty Shades of Grey

Heathcliff is a werewolf.
We don't know where we comes from. He's often called savage or wild, and has an unkempt appearance. At the beginning of the novel he's shown living in a ramshackle house with a pack of dogs. The book says he has "sharp cannibal teeth", then one paragraph later says he snarled, then one paragraph after that compares him to a loyal dog. The younger Catherine says she wants to make Linton, Heathcliff's son, her pet, and then pets him and feeds him from a saucer. Being that this is a gothic novel (and also features a ghost, and mentions witchcraft, fairies, and ghouls), this may be intentional.
  • From his description in the book, I always thought Heathcliff was meant to be Roma. People in Europe didn't always look favorably on them, to the point of completely distrusting them, and they are associated with fortune-telling and magic. They had a reputation among some as being "noble savages", kind of like how European settlers regarded Native American Indians. Roma were also assumed to be thieves, which could explain how Heathcliff accumulated his wealth. Bronte does refer to him as a gipsy, and she might have meant it literally. On the other hand, he is described as though he were Raised by Wolves more than by humans.

Heathcliff is a vampire.
Nelly Dean specifically wonders this. Most of the evidence for him being a werewolf (mysterious origins, sharp teeth, animalistic traits) could also point to vampirism. This is the real explanation for the elder Catherine's
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Brain Fever – it's not caused by her grief or her self-starvation, it's Heathcliff preying on her.

The elder Catherine is a vampire.
See this article for an alternative to the above. Cathy's Brain Fever is actually her becoming a vampire (though who turned her is unknown). This is why her corpse is still intact eighteen years after her death, and why she appears to Lockwood at the window not just as a ghost, but with a solid, ice-cold hand that clings to him and even bleeds when cut. Heathcliff's mysterious death is caused by her finally managing to bite him and turn him.

Heathcliff gained his wealth and education through a Deal with the Devil.
Cathy's death is the price: Heathcliff gains his revenge on the two families who drove Cathy away from him, and gains all their property too, but in exchange, the Devil takes Cathy herself away from him.

Heathcliff is Mr. Earnshaw's illegitimate son.
This is definitely a wild mass guess. Many serious scholars put it forth and even consider it canon, as do a few adaptations. Mr. Earnshaw had a secret Romani mistress in Liverpool; after she died, he brought their son home with him and lied that he had just found him in the street. Mrs. Earnshaw suspected the truth, which explains why she was so opposed to taking Heathcliff in. Maybe Hindley suspected too, and loathed Heathcliff not just out of jealousy, but for symbolizing his father's betrayal of his mother and out of fear that he might usurp Hindley's inheritance. Only Cathy and Heathcliff himself never realized that their love was Brother–Sister Incest.

Heathcliff isn't Mr. Earnshaw's illegitimate son, but he wasn't an orphan either.
This video alludes to this possibility. Heathcliff had a family when Mr. Earnshaw found him; he had just wandered away from them and gotten lost, as small children do. No one knew where he had come from because his parents were Romani nomads. Still, Mr. Earnshaw would have found them if he had only stayed longer in Liverpool and searched more thoroughly, but "his money and time being both limited," he Gave Up Too Soon. Because Heathcliff couldn't speak English, he couldn't explain that he wasn't an orphan or protest when Mr. Earnshaw took him away, and by the time he learned English, he had given up hope of ever seeing his family again and chose not even to tell anyone about them. This makes him the inversion of the ugly old myth that Romani steal white children: instead he's a Romani child stolen by a white man, which he and all the other white characters wrongly think was a kindness instead of the theft it was.

Heathcliff is a Changeling

In keeping with the other guesses that he's some sort of supernatural being, Heathcliff is one of The Fair Folk, who Mr. Earnshaw was tricked or beguiled into taking home with him. This explains his Lack of Empathy, "wild" nature and preference for the natural world over civilization, and why no one can initially figure out what language he speaks. He's also a trickster, swindling Hindley out of his money and property; do not gamble with the Fey, people. And despite his thoroughly repellent personality and behavior, he has an undeniable charisma and can charm those around him when he considers doing so worth the effort. Also, visiting vengeance not only on those that wronged you but their descendants as well is a very faerie thing to do, as is claiming their children as your property.

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