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Free Study Guide-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Free BookNotes
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CHARACTERS ANALYSIS

Hindley Earnshaw

Hindley is the only son of the senior Mr. Earnshaw, the man who brings Heathcliff home to raise; he is also the brother to Catherine, the woman that Heathcliff loves throughout the novel. Although Hindley is a strong-willed and violent character, he is no match for the scheming Heathcliff. From the time of Heathcliff's arrival at Wuthering Heights, Hindley regards him as an intruder and bullies him constantly. As soon as Hindley is old enough, the senior Mr. Earnshaw takes the curate's advice and sends the boy away to college in an effort to return peace to the household. Hindley does not return until his father's funeral, when he comes with his young wife, Frances. His time away from the Heights and his marriage has done nothing to abate his hatred for his childhood enemy. Back home, Hindley once again sets about brutalizing Heathcliff.

The death of Frances makes Hindley denounce God and take to drinking. At times, he behaves like a madman, frightening his son, Hareton; he often threatens to murder others, especially Heathcliff. Nelly remarks that his treatment of Heathcliff is "enough to make a fiend of a saint." His evil conduct causes the departure of all the servants, except for Nelly and Joseph. No one is saddened when he dies trying to kill Heathcliff.


Edgar Linton

Edgar Linton, a neighbor to the Earnshaws and the brother to Isabella, is a happy, cheerful child, but rather weak in comparison with Heathcliff. In fact, Nelly describes him as "a soft thing." Even the young Catherine recognizes his weakness and, knowing that she is stronger then he, she boxes his ears. Despite his having seen her true nature, Edgar is fascinated with Catherine; as a young man, he successfully woos and wins her. Catherine agrees to marry him because he is handsome, wealthy, and much more polished than Heathcliff, her true love. As a husband, Edgar is pleasant and patient, but Catherine never really loves him although she stays with him.

When Heathcliff returns, Catherine cannot hide her joy. Edgar sulks and "melts into tears" over her behavior. His position as the husband of a woman who remains obstinately inseparable from his most bitter enemy is pitiful. Miserable in her sham of a marriage, Catherine grows sick, and Edgar faithfully cares for her. When she dies after giving birth to a daughter, Edgar is devastated and becomes almost a recluse. Gradually he develops an interest in his daughter, Cathy, and finally becomes a fond and doting parent. On his deathbed, Cathy shows her genuine love and concern for Edgar as well.

Although he is no match for the wicked Heathcliff and falls victim to his treacherous plans, there are a few instances when Edgar does show some spirit. Basically, however, he is kind, trusting, and honorable man, a complete contrast to the much stronger Catherine and Heathcliff.

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