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

Cathy

As the daughter of Edgar Linton and the tempestuous Catherine, the younger Cathy is an interesting mixture of the two. From Edgar she has inherited manners that are as "soft and mild as (those of) a dove -- a gentle voice and a pensive expression." She also has her father's sensitive, tender, and affectionate heart. Additionally, she shows none of her mother's ungovernable fierceness, either in anger or in love.

Like her mother, Cathy is naturally strong willed, a trait which is further encouraged by Edgar's indulgence towards her. Also like her mother, the little mistress of the Grange is often arrogant and obstinate. Too frequently she acts or speaks before she thinks; she then sheds tears of instant regret on realizing that she has hurt her beloved father or the devoted Nelly, who idolizes the child. Overall, however, Cathy is a delightful child; she is described as "the most winning thing that ever brought sunshine into a desolate house."

Although lively and impulsive as a young girl, as seen in her mocking of her cousin Hareton, Cathy has compassion for her other cousin, Linton, who is a sad, sickly boy. Later Heathcliff takes this compassion and uses it against Cathy, forcing her to marry Linton against her will. Like her mother's marriage to Edgar, Cathy's marriage to Linton is miserable; when her husband dies at a very young age and not long after his marriage, Cathy is forced by Heathcliff to stay on at Wuthering Heights, where she grows close to Hareton. She finally finds happiness through Hareton and plans to marry him, leave the Heights, and permanently settle at the Grange.

Although Cathy is not introduced into the book until its later chapters, she becomes a very important character. She combines in her personality the best of both her parents, for she inherits Edgar Linton's gentleness without his weakness and Catherine's spirit without her savagery. By falling in love with and marrying Hareton, Cathy develops the theme of the importance of true love.

Linton Heathcliff

Linton is the son of Heathcliff and Isabella. When his mother prematurely dies, he is brought as a child to live at Wuthering Heights. It is obvious from the beginning that his father dislikes Linton and does not want him to thrive. Still he wants to use Linton as part of his plan for revenge.


Being a product of a marriage that is filled with hate, Linton inherits the weakness of character of both his parents. He is soft, like Isabella, constantly ailing and engaging in self-pity. On some occasions, however, as Joseph observes, his father's violent temper and savageness emerge in the boy, especially if someone tries to cross him. It is only Cathy Earnshaw that seems to see any good in the boy. She befriends him in their youth and is later forced to marry him by the vengeful Heathcliff. Linton dies soon after his marriage. His early death has been hastened by the abuse he receives at the hands of the father who despises him.

Hareton Earnshaw

Hareton, the son of Hindley and Frances, is brought up by Heathcliff after the deaths of his mother and father. Heathcliff makes Hareton live in poverty and ignorance, punishing the boy for the sins his father committed against Heathcliff. In many ways, Hareton's childhood parallels that of Heathcliff. As a child, he is sullen, crude, and uneducated. He is also taught cruelty by Heathcliff.

In spite of Heathcliff's efforts to turn him into an absolute brute, Hareton has many redeeming traits. He has a sharp mind, the desire to learn, and the need for love. He is attracted to the young Cathy, the only person who takes an interest in him. She succeeds in bringing out the best in young Hareton. By the end of the novel, Heathcliff has lost interest in avenging himself on Hindley's son. After Linton is dead, he allows a relationship between Hareton and Cathy to develop. At the end of the novel, the two of them plan to marry and leave the Heights forever, making a life for themselves at the Grange.

Mrs. Nelly Dean

Nelly, a housekeeper at both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, is an intelligent countrywoman who possesses shrewdness and common sense. Although she accepts the material disadvantages involved in being "a poor man's daughter," she does not feel particularly inferior. Throughout the book, she is seen giving good advice and speaking her mind. She also has a strong maternal instinct that leads her to be motherly to the young children of the novel. If she cares for one of them, Nelly becomes totally devoted, as she was to young Cathy.

Nelly has the typical distrust that country folks have of "foreigners." She points out to Lockwood that it is for them to earn a welcome, not to expect one. As a result, she never feels comfortable with Heathcliff, whom she views as an outsider from the day he arrives at Wuthering Heights. Throughout the novel, she distances herself from this man she calls a "fiend." For the most part, however, Nelly is a kind, caring woman and a lively narrator.

Lockwood

Lockwood is a colorless character whose main purpose in the story is to begin and end the narrative. He has come from London and rented Thrushcross Grange from Heathcliff. As an outsider to the moors, he is unused to rural ways and surprised at what he finds. He has expected that Yorkshire life and its eccentricities would be picturesque; instead, he finds that me must confront life and death directly and harshly, in the shape of snarling dogs, dead rabbits, a blizzard, a savage landlord, and even a ghost. He never really understands the inhabitants of the Heights, especially Heathcliff, and adopts a superior attitude towards them.

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