Characters make up the skeleton of a story. They convey the authors’ ideas, beliefs, and relationships with the people and things around them. Major characters in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte are interesting and thought-provoking due to the depth of meanings they convey through their conversation and actions. Some of the major characters of Wuthering Heights have been discussed below.
Characters in Wuthering Heights
Heathcliff is a highly mysterious, anti-hero around whom the whole story the novel revolves. His character defies all the avenues of understanding his personality as an orphan brought up in a mansion. His unkindness surpasses almost all his positive traits. Heathcliff takes revenge against every other character, including Catherine and Edgar. A sadist in his own words, he tortures Isabella Linton just for the sake of enjoyment. Despite living with Hindley and Cathy after Earnshaw brings him home, he does not hesitate to hurt them even for minor errors. Eventually, he starts treating others badly. This proves that the maltreatment received to him from Hindley and Cathy during his childhood had changed him to a bitter person. It only fades when he sees Catherine flirting with Hareton and embraces death peacefully. He wins sympathy for the life and losses he had endured. However, his behavior doesn’t justify the reasons when he mistreats others.
Catherine is an even-tempered, kind, and generous who attains prominence because of her different nature unlike that of her mother, Cathy. Despite living a secluded and sheltered life, she understands Heathcliff’s heartless and rude behavior towards Hareton, her cousin. However, it does not show her wisdom in identifying the true characters of a person. She falls in love with Linton, who ditches her when Heathcliff threatens him. Despite her decision to marry him, she chooses to take care of him until his death. She finally comes to Hareton when she is tired of isolation at Wuthering Height. Also, Heathcliff abandon’s her by taking the whole property. With her cousins’ help, she finally returns after gaining the property after Heathcliff dies.
Mrs. Dean or Nelly Dean is the narrator of the story when she explains the full history of Heathcliff to Mr. Lockwood. On a few occasions, her narration is biased as she begins to recollect her personal relationships with the characters. Despite performing her servant role, she is still considered a foster sister to Cathy, Heathcliff, and Hindley. Throughout the novel, she is known for her caring and compassionate nature. She stays loyal to Cathy from her marriage while caring for her daughter, Catherine. She becomes important, for she is not only the caretaker but also a very loyal protector of the family.
Edgar is the owner of Thrushcross Grange. He extremely snobbish young man though he becomes kind and gentle while he is growing up. Edgar decides to marry Cathy and stays loyal to her throughout his life. Edgar is partially the reason for Cathy’s death when he picks up a brawl with Heathcliff merely for jealousy. That is why he becomes wary of Heathcliff in later life to save his daughter from his likely revenge. Ironically, his fears prove true when he dies, and Heathcliff takes charge of Thrushcross Grange.
Hareton is Catherine’s cousin, who loses his father shortly after he loses his mother. He is a very interesting character and lives a simple life. Hareton knows nothing about the upper-class society and cultured manners. He gets offended easily and has a very kind heart. However, when he meets Catherine, he comes to know about his brutish manners, which make him shun society and education. When they are forced to live at Wuthering Heights, he surrenders to before the very girl he has hated. Catherine teaches him to read and write, including manners. Eventually, they fall in love with each other.
Hindley is Mr. Earnshaw’s son and Catherine’s brother. He resents the arrival of Heathcliff. Once Mr. Earnshaw dies, he abuses Heathcliff. Later, it costs him dearly when Heathcliff becomes master of Wuthering Heights. He lapses into depression and alcohol consumption later when his wife dies, leaving him and his son Hareton alone. Eventually, Hindley also succumbs to grief and dies shortly.
Linton is Isabella and Heathcliff’s son. He is always weak, whimpering and physically ill. Linton never relates to his father. He stays away from his jealousy, stricken nature for most of his childhood years. He comes to live with him only when his mother leaves him for good. Linton does not like his father. However, Heathcliff exploits Linton’s innocence to marry him to Catherine and strengthen his hold on Thrushcross Grange. After months after his marriage, Linton dies.
Isabella Linton, Edgar Linton’s sister, marries Heathcliff out of this love. At first, Isabella perceives Heathcliff as an imaginary romantic character from a novel. However, later she realizes that she had ruined her prospects. Heathcliff does not love her back. She is abused by Heathcliff to exact revenge from the Linton family. She is unable to understand the world around her, the reason that she falls into the trap of Mr. Heathcliff. However, after marrying him, she radically changes into a hysterical and delirious person.
Mr. Earnshaw is Hindley’s and Catherine’s father. He adopts Heathcliff and brings him to his home. However, his family refuses to accept Heathcliff and mistreat him. Although he prefers Heathcliff over Hindley. He gives Wuthering Heights to Hindley.
Mr. Linton is the husband of Catherin Earnshaw. He also suffers along with other characters at the hands of Heathcliff. He had also treated Heathcliff badly during his childhood. However, one thing about him is praiseworthy that despite heavy odds against him. Mr. Linton raises his children in the best possible circumstances.