Wuthering Heights: Characters

This article by Custom-Writing.org experts contains all the information about the characters in Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff, Catherine Earnshaw, Isabella Linton, Nelly Dean, Mr. Lockwood, and others. In the first section, you’ll find a Wuthering Heights family tree.

🌳 Wuthering Heights: Family Tree

In Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte tells the story of two families. The first one is the Earnshaws from Wuthering Heights, and the second one is the Lintons from Thrushcross Grange.

The picture contains a family tree of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

👦 Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights

Mr. Earnshaw adopts a street boy without knowing how much love and suffering he is about to bring in his family. In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff becomes a foster brother to Catherine and Hindley. He neglects this relation, however, when he falls in love with Catherine.

As one of the main characters in Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is supposed to be either antagonist or protagonist, but it is entirely unclear. The reader understands that despite all his acts of revenge, he remains the victim himself. Hindley starts the vicious cycle of hate, and we can’t blame Heathcliff for it.

When Heathcliff is a small child who suffers from bullying, it is almost impossible not to sympathize with him. But when he gains power and starts abusing it, he moves to the category of villains.

Even though he becomes the master of Wuthering Heights, the house that suits his grumpy personality so well, he never feels home there. Heathcliff carries the mark of an outsider, and by the end of the story, he is nothing more than just pitiful.

There is a contradiction in his character analysis, though. Heathcliff is capable of great love, and it seems like nothing can stop him from trying to win Catherine back. It may create some misunderstanding because his love is as great as his hatred.

Quotes by Heathcliff

I’m trying to settle how I shall pay Hindley back. I don’t care how long I wait, if I can only do it at last. I hope he will not die before I do!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 7

Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 16

My old enemies have not beaten me; now would be the precise time to revenge myself on their representatives: I could do it; and none could hinder me. But where is the use? I don’t care for striking: I can’t take the trouble to raise my hand!..

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 32

👧 Catherine Earnshaw

Catherine Earnshaw is another tragic character in this complicated family tree of Wuthering Heights. She has been in love with Heathcliff since childhood as much as he has been in love with her. However, it seems like she is torn apart between her mind’s voice and the spirit of her heart. The love triangle reflects this conflict.

From the beginning, Catherine shows herself as a free-spirited little girl. She would run away to the moors with Heathcliff. However, the luxury and security of civilized Linton’s home is winning over her untamed nature.

It is even reflected by the place she is buried at. Her coffin is not with the Lintons nor in the Earnshaws’ tomb but on the kirkyard overlooking the moors. Her grave appears to be just in the middle between Edgar and Heathcliff’s. It is not her according to her wish but highlights the conflict.

As she nears death, Catherine devotes her love to Heathcliff, even though he can’t forgive her. Her deep and passionate love for him seems to be so strong that she returns to Wuthering Heights as a ghost.

Quotes by Catherine Earnshaw

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 9

What you touch at present you may have; but my soul will be on that hill-top before you lay hands on me again. I don’t want you, Edgar: I’m past wanting you. Return to your books. I’m glad you possess a consolation, for all you had in me is gone.

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 12

Will you say twenty years hence, “That’s the grave of Catherine Earnshaw? I loved her long ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past. I’ve loved many others since: my children are dearer to me than she was; and, at death, I shall not rejoice that I am going to her: I shall be sorry that I must leave them!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 15

🎭 Other Characters in Wuthering Heights

Edgar Linton

Born and raised as a true gentleman, Edgar Linton represents Heathcliff’s counterpart. He is caring, kind, and loving, which makes him more feminine than other male characters. As a father and husband, Edgar shows his best side.

Nobody is perfect, and Linton has human flaws. He is consumed with hatred towards Heathcliff, which appears to be just another part of a vicious cycle of revenge in this story.

Despite his love for Catherine, he loses her at the end, along with his child, sister, and even house. It might point out the fact that the dearest feeling is not enough to keep everything together.

I am going to her; and you, darling child, shall come to us!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 28

On the other hand, it might highlight that good, represented by Edgar, does not always defeat evil in the person of Heathcliff. Edgar Linton has always seemed to be spoiled and, therefore, raised to become rather helpless. There is not much he can do against the raw, natural power of Heathcliff’s love and revenge.

Catherine/Cathy Linton

Catherine Linton is the fruit of the knot tried between Linton and Earnshaw. She stands on the crossroads of the two family trees. A beautiful girl inherited some of her parents’ characteristics. She can be stubborn and selfish as Catherine but is as compassionate and gentle as Edgar.

…every breath from the hills so full of life, that it seemed whoever respired it, though dying, might revive. Catherine’s face was just like the landscape—shadows and sunshine flitting over it in rapid succession; but the shadows rested longer, and the sunshine was more transient…

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 27

Her father has tamed Cathy’s wild temper, and she appears to be kinder than Catherine. Still, it may seem like her mother’s wildness that runs in her veins leads her back to Wuthering Heights. There, she even manages to calm down Heathcliff’s thirst for revenge a little bit.

One strength that is unique for Cathy is her ability to see the true beauty. By the end of the story, she understands Hareton’s nobility and decides to marry him.

Linton Heathcliff

Linton is Isabella and Heathcliff’s son, born weak and sickish. Isabella raises the boy away from his father in London. Only after her death, Edgar takes him back to Yorkshire. There, at the age of 13, he finally goes under Heathcliff’s guardship.

However, instead of much-needed love and care from his only living parent, Linton receives only hate and despise. Heathcliff treats the boy as a servant and decides to use him in his revenge plans.

He was asleep in a corner, wrapped in a warm, fur-lined cloak, as if it had been winter. A pale, delicate, effeminate boy, who might have been taken for my master’s younger brother, so strong was the resemblance: but there was a sickly peevishness in his aspect that Edgar Linton never had.

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 19

Forced to marry Cathy, Linton can’t take it anymore. Constant stress, anxiety, and bullying worsen his poor health. He dies soon after his marriage to Cathy.

Hareton Earnshaw

Hindley’s son, Hareton Earnshaw, becomes adopted by Heathcliff after the death of his father. His life as a field worker without proper education painfully resembles Heathcliff’s. No wonder since it is all according to the plan of the master of Wuthering Heights.

He’s just like a dog, is he not, Ellen?… or a cart-horse? He does his work, eats his food, and sleeps eternally! What a blank, dreary mind he must have! Do you ever dream, Hareton? And, if you do, what is it about?

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 32

Despite being far from intelligent, Hareton is kind-hearted and keeps trying to prove he is worth something. In the end, Cathy sees his sensibility and noble soul, which encourages her to take a step towards their romantic relationship.

Also, the ending suggests that Hareton is an example of what Heathcliff might have become if life wasn’t so rough.

Nelly Dean

Nelly Dean, or originally Ellen, has experience of housekeeping in both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Thanks to that, she knows almost everything about the lives in two houses and provides Mr. Lockwood with the juicy description of their family drama.

Since she was growing up around the Earnshaw’s family, she is emotionally connected to the story’s main characters. Nelly is very kind and compassionate, so she always ends up taking care of the kids.

Moreover, she seems to be more educated than one can expect from a servant. Often, instead of just observing, she decides to act and help the characters out.

Mr. Lockwood

Mr. Lockwood is the one who retells the story of the two families heard from Nelly. However, he also introduces the setting and creates a so-called frame story.

A bit arrogant and selfish, Lockwood is not used to the antic behavior of Wuthering Heights’ inhabitants. There are almost no social norms or culture in that household. That strikes him as a stranger from more civilized parts of England.

Lockwood doesn’t know much about Wuthering Heights, so sometimes he might misunderstand the events. Moreover, his introverted nature leads him to seek answers from Nelly instead of directly talking to Heathcliff’s family.

Hindley Earnshaw

Hindley, Catherine’s brother, has started hating Heathcliff from his very first day in Wuthering Heights. Being a natural bully, he treats little Heathcliff as inferior. As soon as Mr. Earnshaw dies and he inherits the house, Hindley turns the adopted boy into a field worker and refuses him in education.

…the young master had learned to regard his father as an oppressor rather than a friend, and Heathcliff as a usurper of his parent’s affections and his privileges; and he grew bitter with brooding over these injuries.

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 4

Even though his relationships with other family members aren’t perfect, he suffers from depression when his beloved wife, Frances, dies. Hindley becomes a heavy drinker and gambler, totally forgetting his parental responsibility for his son, Hareton. This self-destructive behavior leads him to lose his wealth and die being so much in debt that Wuthering Heights becomes Heathcliff’s property.

Isabella Linton

Isabella Linton is Edgar’s sister. Raised to be a kind and delicate lady, she also falls victim to this world’s hatred. Her marriage with Heathcliff eventually ruins her life.

The fact that it is not true love doesn’t need much explanation. Heathcliff only uses her to inherit Thrushcross Grange for revenge. However, Isabella has real feelings for him at first, at least until she comes to Wuthering Heights and is treated like trash.

It breaks her, and she runs away to London to give birth to Heathcliff’s son, Linton. A poor woman stays there until she dies over a decade later.

We hope that the above description of Wuthering Heights characters is useful. If you want to learn more about the true meaning of the novel, check out Wuthering Heights Analysis sections. And if you’re looking for exciting essay ideas on the story, please read this article.

🔗 References

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