Wuthering Heights Important Characters


Heathcliff was discovered on the streets of Liverpool, England by Mr. Earnshaw. He could not find any family to take care of the boy, so he brought him home with him. This was the moment which changed the lives of both Heathcliff and the Earnshaw family forever. Heathcliff was sullen, indifferent to Mr. Earnshaw, and trouble. He hardly talked except to cause trouble between himself and Hindley, the son of Mr. Earnshaw. Mr. Earnshaw liked Heathcliff and would take his side when he and Hindley would argue.

After Mr. Earnshaw's death Hindley remembered his treatment by his father and made Heathcliff a servant. This and the beatings Heathcliff suffered at the hand of Hindley formed the basis for his desire for revenge. Heathcliff and Catherine, Mr. Earnshaw's daughter, fell in love, but because he was a servant, she could not marry him. She instead married Edgar Linton, which Heathcliff used as an excuse to exact revenge against Edgar. Heathcliff's desire for revenge knew no bounds, as he used his own son to procure Edgar's lands and turned Hindley's son into a servant. Heathcliff was a very unhappy man, who poured his unhappiness upon the lives of all who knew him. Heathcliff died alone in his bed, only to be found by Mrs. Dean after she noticed rain coming in though his bedroom window.

Catherine Earnshaw

Catherine Earnshaw was the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw. She and Heathcliff were about the same age and became, after a time, close friends. They would play together and after Hindley became the master of Wuthering Heights, they plotted to find freedom by running on the moor. Catherine was not a very nice young woman. She was so unkind to the servants and others in the household, that her own father told her he could not love her anymore. Catherine was capable of love and the love of her life was not her husband, Edgar Linton, but instead Heathcliff. She could not marry Heathcliff, because Hindley had made him a servant and in the late 1700's a woman of her social standing did not marry a servant. She did come to love Edgar, in her own way. She and Edgar had a child, Catherine, unfortunately Catherine died soon after giving birth. Catherine was a self -serving woman who wanted people to jump to her orders and did not like to be told no. She felt caught between her marriage and her love for Heathcliff.

Hindley Earnshaw

Hindley was Catherine's older brother and heir to Wuthering Heights. He was mean to Heathcliff when he came to live with the family, because Mr. Earnshaw liked Heathcliff better than Hindley. Hindley was sent away to college in an effort to restore peace in the household. After Mr. Earnshaw's death, Hindley and his new wife returned to take control of Wuthering Heights. This was Hindley's opportunity to exact his revenge upon Heathcliff by making him a servant. He also was unkind to his sister, Catherine, punishing her for the most minor or infractions.

Hindley's life took a turn for the worse after his wife died. She died shortly after giving birth to their son, Hareton. Hindley turned to drinking and gambling in an effort to run away from the reality of losing his wife. He was a mean drunk, which had him trying to harm anyone who came into contact with him when he had been drinking. He was an even worse gambler, because of this he had to mortgage Wuthering Heights to Heathcliff in order to pay off his gambling debts. Heathcliff gained control of Wuthering Heights six months after Catherine died, when Hindley died. Hindley through his own actions denied his son his rightful inheritance. Indeed, Heathcliff repaid Hindley's unkindness to him by making Hareton a servant, just as Hindley had done to Heathcliff.

Hindley was a jealous and vengeful young man who in the end turned into a trembling and cowardly drunk. His actions caused the most harm to his son, his niece, and his sister.

Edgar Linton

Edgar Linton was a childhood friend of Catherine's and as they grew older was her boyfriend. They became engaged because she thought with his wealth and social position she could somehow help Heathcliff. Edgar did love Catherine and endured her many moods in order to make her happy. He even allowed Heathcliff to come and visit Catherine, until Isabella, Edgar's sister, fell in love with Heathcliff. The two then had a verbal and physical fight over Heathcliff's attentions to Catherine and Isabella. Edgar then banned Heathcliff from his home, Thrushcross Grange.

After Catherine's death, Edgar did the best he could to raise his daughter, whom he adored. He tried to shelter her from Heathcliff and the rest of his household. His daughter, Catherine, was a curious girl and ventured onto Heathcliff's land, which was how she met Heathcliff and renewed her acquaintance of his son Linton. Edgar wanted to raise Linton himself, because it was his sister, Isabella's dying wish. Linton was the son of Isabella and Heathcliff, but Heathcliff came and took the boy to raise himself.

Edgar tried to put a stop to any type of relationship between the two, but he could not. He died after Heathcliff had taken his daughter, Catherine, prisoner and had her marry Linton.

Edgar was a kind hearted man, who was not easily fooled by Heathcliff. He went along with allowing his wife and then his daughter seeing him, because he wanted to make them happy.

Catherine Linton

Catherine Linton is the daughter of Edgar and Catherine Linton. She was born prematurely and her mother died two hours after her birth. Her father tried to make up for her being motherless by spoiling the child. She ran the household by pouting and using her father to get her way. The fact that she was a pretty child, who was basically good, made it easier for the rest of the household to give into her every whim. She was sheltered though and could not leave the grounds of Thrushcross Grange without an escort. She did not like this and tried to leave, if her desire to have some more freedom was denied. This is how she met Heathcliff and Hareton, she one day decided to ride to see some high stones she wanted to explore. She was found at supper time at Wuthering Heights having tea with Hareton. Another time she wanted to see some grouse nests, but they were on Heathcliff's land and so she was caught trespassing by Heathcliff who had her come and take tea with him and Linton. She had briefly met Linton when her father had brought him home, after Linton's mother had died.

Catherine married Linton at the strong urging of Heathcliff. She became a widow soon after the marriage, because Linton was a sickly young man. It was then she learned Heathcliff had his son will him all he and Catherine owned. She was penniless and at the control of Heathcliff, which made her a bitter young woman. After a while she and Hareton became romantically involved, but Heathcliff did not approve. It was only after Heathcliff died that Catherine and Hareton were able to recover what was rightfully theirs.

Isabella Linton

Isabella Linton was Edgar Linton's sister. She lived with Edgar and Catherine after their marriage. The three of them were best of friends, in fact she and Catherine thought of each other as sisters. This all changed after Heathcliff came home and started to visit Catherine on a daily basis. Isabella, who was 18 years-old, fell in love with Heathcliff. She also became very jealous of any time Heathcliff and Catherine spent alone, which caused a rift between Catherine and Isabella. Catherine tried to warn Isabella of Heathcliff's bad traits, but she would not listen. She regretted this later, after she had married Heathcliff and found out he had only married her to get his hands on any property she might inherit. She also found out he married her to cause misery for Edgar, who had in effect disowned his sister. She died thirteen years later after she had run away from Heathcliff. Edgar did go to be with her and he agreed to take in her son, Linton.

She was a head strong young woman, who would not listen to reason when it interfered with her plans. She was loved by her brother, but that was not enough to save her from Heathcliff.

Linton Heathcliff

Linton was a young teenager when he learned who his father was. His mother had never told him anything about his father in order to shield him from Heathcliff. He was a sickly child and was sickly his whole life. He was considered property by his father, who could hardly stand to see him, because he looked so much like his mother. Heathcliff also considered him inferior because he was not in Heathcliff's estimation manly enough.

Linton, was used to being coddled by his mother, so the rough treatment his father bestowed upon him came as a shock to his physical and emotional health. Linton did like Catherine Linton, who was his first cousin. He wanted to be with her, because she did coddle him and make him happy. He was afraid of his father and did whatever he was told to do, even marrying his cousin and making his father the sole benefactor of his will. Linton died young, but even had he lived he would have been a poor husband because he did not have any real fortitude to live and behave as a husband should. He was weak willed and at times mean spirited towards Catherine.

Hareton Earnshaw

Hareton Earnshaw is the son of Hindley and Francis Earnshaw. His mother died not long after he was born and he was placed in the care of Mrs. Dean, who did her best to raise the boy with love. His father had, for the most part, turned his back on the boy, he only showed interest in Hareton when he was drunk. Because of this Hareton learned to fear his father and to trust Mrs. Dean and Heathcliff.

After his father's death, Heathcliff made Hareton a servant; denying him an education. Hareton despite this treatment by Heathcliff was devoted to him. He only started to defy him after he and Catherine Heathcliff started to become closer, even then he would only go against Heathcliff if he was harming Catherine. Hareton in the end became engaged to Catherine, who gained back her inheritance after Heathcliff's death. It is suggested that Hareton also regained his inheritance after Heathcliff's death.

Mr. Earnshaw

He made a mistake by trying to do the right thing. He thought he was being charitable by bringing Heathcliff into his home, little did he know the chaos Heathcliff would cause his family. He did not help the situation by favoring Heathcliff over his own son and daughter. He did not think how this would impact his children. He, in his last days, became mean and had no tolerance for anything which was the least bit annoying to him. He left his estate to his son, Hindley, which started the quest for vengeance by Heathcliff. Heathcliff was not about to let Hindley's decision to make him a servant go unpunished. Mr. Earnshaw was a decent person who let his emotions rule his head, when it came to how he treated his children and Heathcliff.

Mrs. Dean

Mrs. Dean is a housekeeper who had worked for the Earnshaw family her whole life. She is at various times referred to as Ellen and Nelly throughout the book. She was in charge of raising Hareton, until Hindley sent her to live with Catherine and Edgar. Then she was the chief caretaker of Catherine Linton after her mother had died. She at the start of the book is the housekeeper for Thrushcross Grange and she narrates most of the story for Mr. Lockwood, the tenant, so he can better understand the occupants of Wuthering Heights. She is a kind woman who only wants the best possible life for the people she cares for.

Mr. Lockwood

He is the tenant at Thrushcross Grange. After visiting with Heathcliff and meeting the people who live at Wuthering Heights, he has lots of questions about their unusual behavior. He tries to visit them a second time and is caught there for the night because of a snow storm. He has nightmares after reading some notes written in books by Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff's reaction to Mr. Lockwood's nightmares is unusual. He is angry that Mr. Lockwood has had a glimpse into the inner thoughts of Catherine. Mr. Lockwood enlists Mrs. Dean to tell him the story of Wuthering Heights and help him to understand what is going on there. He is put off both by the people and the loneliness of the moor in winter, which leads him to leave Thrushcross Grange after a few months of living there. He returns in the early fall to find out that Heathcliff is dead and he learns of Catherine and Hareton's engagement from Mrs. Dean. Mr. Lockwood is an amiable man, who is trying to understand this strange new world into which he has cast himself.

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