Wuthering Heights - Character Notes


Summaries and Analysis.

(Not every character has analysis, this is because they are not as important or are not main characters)


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Wuthering Heights: Characters

Heathcliff - Summary


Heathcliff is the main character. Orphaned as a child, he is constantly on the outside, constantly losing people. Although he and Catherine Earnshaw profess that they complete each other, her decision to marry Edgar Linton almost destroys their relationship. He spends most of his life contemplating and acting out revenge. He is abusive, brutal and cruel.

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Wuthering Heights: Characters

Heathcliff - Analysis

To everyone but Catherine and Hareton, Heathcliff seems to be an inhuman monster - or even incarnate evil. From a literary perspective, he is more the embodiment of of the Byronic Hero, (attributed to the writer George Gordon, Lord Byron), a man of stormy emotions who shuns humanity because he himself has been ostracised; a rebellious hero who functions as a law unto himself. Heathcliff is both dispicable and pitiable. His one sole passion is Catherine, yet his commitment to his notion of a higher love does not seem to include forgiveness. Readers need to determine if his revenge is focussed on his lost position at Wuthering Heights, his loss of Catherine to Edgar, or if it is his assertion of dignity as a human being. Heathcliff hates as deeply as he loves; therefore, he is despised as much as he is pitied.

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Wuthering Heights: Characters

Catherine Earnshaw - Summary


The love of Heathcliff's life. She is wild, impetuous and arrogant as a child. She grows up getting everything she wants. When two men fall in love with her, she torments both of them. Ultimately, Catherine's selfishness ends up hurting everyone she loves, including herself. 

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Wuthering Heights: Characters

Catherine Earnshaw - Analysis

Often viewed as the epitome of the free spirit, Catherine is torn between two worlds. On one hand, she longs to be with Heathcliff, her soulmate: their life together, growing up and playing on the moors, represents the freedom and innocence of childhood. On the other, she recognises what marriage to Edgar can do for her socially, and she enjoys those things that Edgar can provide for her. Ultimately, she is self-absorbed and self-centered, and although she claims to love both Heathcliff and Edgar, she loves herself more. Not until near death does Catherine turn exclusively toward Heathcliff, abandoning Edgar. Ironically, Heathcliff does not fully forgive her, and because of this, Edgar is the man who gives every appearance of loving Catherine unconditionally. 

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Wuthering Heights: Characters

Edgar Linton - Summary


Catherine's husband and Heathcliffe's rival. Well-mannered and well-to-do, he falls in love with and marries Catherine. His love for her enables him to overlook their incompatible natures. 

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Wuthering Heights: Characters

Edgar Linton - Analysis

Edgar represents the typical Victorian hero, possessing qualities of constancy and tenderness; however, a non-emotional intellectual is not the type of person who can make Catherine happy in the long run. Edgar loves and understands Catherine more than anyone realises, but love alone is not enough to sustain a relationship. He ends up losing everything - his wife, his sister, his daughter and his home - to Heathcliff because good does not always overcome evil. He is a foil for Heathcliff. 

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