HINDLEY EARNSHAW (Heroine’s Brother)
Hindley is a relatively uncomplicated character as compared to Heathcliff and Catherine. However, he too has contradictory aspects: his choice of a fiddle as a present from his father suggests an artistic temperament and his tears when it is broken indicate a sensitive temperament. Yet, we see very little of the sensitive Hindley in the novel.
His Hatred for Heathcliff
The tender aspects of Hindley seem to die with the arrival of Heathcliff in the household, who supplants him in his father’s affection. This naturally leads him to a jealous hatred for Heathcliff and he spares no opportunity to torment him. After the death of his father there is no stopping him and it is his cruel, inhuman and brutal treatment of Heathcliff, which is responsible for much of Heathcliff’s warped nature.
His Love for His Wife
The only redeeming aspect of his character, his tender feelings are seen only in his relation with his wife, Frances whom he loves deeply. He is shattered by her death and sinks into a life of depraved drunkenness. His sorrow is described thus:
he grew desperate; his sorrow was of the kind that will not lament. he neither wept nor prayed—he cursed and defied—execrated God and man and gave himself up to reckless dissipation” (Chapter 8) It is possible that Emily Bronte based Hindley’s character on her own brother Branwell’s who was a drunken profligate.
Heathcliff’s Revenge on Edgar
Heathcliff returns after an absence of three years to wreak vengeance on Edgar who had humiliated and treated him so horribly. Edgar, with his drunken and depraved ways is an easy target for Heathcliff who lends him money to gamble more and finally gets Edgar to mortgage the property of the ‘Heights’ to himself. Hindley is thus unable to take any control of his life and even his attempt lo kill Heathcliff ends in failure.
Hindley Earnshaw has some of the qualities of his father, but he is unstable and lacks moral responsibility and self-discipline. His nature is ruined by his resentment of Heathcliffs intrusion into the family. When his father’s restraining presence is removed he becomes a great bully and his character deteriorates rapidly. The death of his adored wife Frances pushes him over the brink and he becomes a depraved drunkard and gambler, losing his property and house to the scheming Heathcliff. So depraved does he becomes that he retains no sense of parental responsibility and is violent towards his own son Hareton.
ISABELLA LINTON (Wife of Hero)
A typical Linton, she has the same weak and colourless goodness of her family.’ She resembles her brother physically but is less inhibited than he and enlivened by some sparks of spirit. Nelly describes her as a “Charming young lady…infantil in manners, though possessed of a keen wit, keen feelings, and a keen temper, too, if irritated.” (Chapter 10)
Her Infatuation and Marriage to Heathcliff
Of a weak and spoiled pampered nature, Isabella is attracted by Heathcliff’s strong, ruthless personality. Cathy loves Heathcliff knowing his true nature—his cruelty, but Isabella is taken in by his outward gentlemanly and strong personality. She is infatuated with Heathcliff and disregards Cathy’s advice accusing Cathy of having a “dog in the manger” attitude. Nor does she heed Nelly’s advice and elopes with Heathcliff who marries her after a time and brings her back to the Heights. She is made to pay dearly for her infatuation as she becomes a mere instrument of revenge in the hands of Heathcliff who treats her like a slave and a slattern denying her all comforts and abusing her frequently.
Her Escape from Wuthering Heights
She exhibits some spirit and courage and engages in a bitter repartee with Heathcliff before she escapes from him, fleeing to the Grange where she seeks Nelly’s help in getting a carriage to take her away to an unknown destination.
Her Tragic End
Isabella goes to live somewhere in the south where she gives birth to a boy named Linton. Twelve years later she dies and the boy Linton is taken away by Isabella’s brother Edgar and subsequently taken by Heathcliff.
Her Pathetic Fate
There is great pathos in the fate, largely undeserved, that engulfs this luckless girl. She becomes a mere pawn in Heathcliff’s scheme of revenge. Her love for Heathcliff is totally killed by his inhuman treatment and she is driven to say, “Monster! Would that he could be blotted out of creation, and out of my memory. He’s not a human being, and he has no claim on my charity. I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death, and flung it back to me.”
Isabella as a Narrator
A part of the story is revealed through the long letter that she writes to Nelly Dean and it throws significant light on the diabolic nature of Heathcliff. She refers to him as a devil and his inhuman treatment of Isabella makes the reader lose some sympathy for Heathcliff.
LINTON HEATHCLIFF (son of Hero)
Linton Hcathcliff inherits his mother’s girlish appearance and weakness and his father’s cruel tendencies. He is complaining, self-pitying, cowardly, unsympathetic and would pursue his cruel impulses if he had the strength. He is too abject a character to arouse the reader’s sympathy.
His Arrival at the Grange
We first meet Linton when Edgar brings him to the Grange, on the death of his mother Isabella. Catherine takes a liking to him and is glad to have a playmate. But Heathcliff lays claims of custody on his son, and much against his wishes, Edgar is forced to send Linton to the Heights. He is described as a sickly, pale effeminate boy who bears a strong resemblance to his uncle Edgar.
His Life at the Heights
Heathcliff is annoyed that Isabella has kept Linton in the dark about his father and abuses her. He employs a tutor for Linton but does not care much for the sickly boy. Linton, too, like his mother Isabella is to be a mere pawn in Heathcliff’s scheme of revenge. Very early Heathcliff, informs Nelly that he plans to get Linton married to Catherine so that the property of the Grange could also be his.
A Pathetic, Timid and Complaining Person
Linton is a wretched fellow. He is timid and nervous in front of his father and is mercilessly bullied by Heathcliff to form a friendship with Catherine. He does love Catherine but his health and his total subjugation to his father make it a kind of selfish love. Linton yearns for the kindness which Catherine showers on him. Catherine’s love for him seems to stem from pity and Linton is actually not deserving of it. He likes to wallow in self-pity, acting sicker than he is. Once after a fight with Catherine, a coughing fit seizes him and he is not above using this excuse to emotionally blackmail her. He says, “I can’t speak to you; you’ve hurt me so, that I shall lie awake all night choking with this cough.” And when Catherine is to leave he says, “You must come, to cure me. You ought to come because you have hurt me; you know you have extremely! I was not as ill when you entered as I am at present.”
His Total Submission to Heathcliff
He does not have the strong spirit of his father and is totally terrorized by Heathcliff. Linton falls in with all of Heathcliffs plans even when it means harming Catherine who has always shown love and kindness to him. He lures Catherine and Nelly to the Heights on the instructions of his father and keeps them imprisoned till Catherine is forcibly married to him. He is sicker than ever and Nelly realizes that he will not survive long. Morose, disinclined to talk, he is too scared of Heathcliff frequently seeking the protection of Catherine. He finally does yield to Catherine’s and Nelly’s entreaty and allows Catherine to escape and visit her dying father. He is however, severely punished for this by Heathcliff.
His Pathetic End
Linton ‘send is as pathetic as his life has been. Unloved and uncared for by his own father Heathcliff, he dies without even the succor of a doctor or medicines, for, Heathcliff says “his life is not worth a farthing. and I won’t spend a farthing on him.” Linton’s is a wasted life. Had he been encouraged and well looked after he might have grown up to be a fine gentleman like his uncle Edgar. Instead he meets a pathetic early death. He is a weak character but we should remember his dire state of health, the constant pain and distress he suffers and the miserable isolation he endures in Wuthering Heights, before we pass harsh judgments on him.
HARETON EARNSHAW (Nephew of Heroine)
He is handsome, well-built, intelligent and essentially kind-hearted. He inherits the good qualities of the Earnshaws and the friendliness of his mother, Frances. He is loving and lovable and adores Heathcliff who has almost ruined him.
He remains uncorrupted in an evil atmosphere, for, although Heathcliff makes him a boor, he cannot degrade his mind and soul. He is as Heathcliff himself says “gold put to the use of paving stones.” He bears no grudges, and his forgiveness of Catherine, after she has constantly hurt his sensitive feelings, is wholehearted and generous. He is industrious and responds quickly to encouragement to improve himself.
Heathcliff and Hareton
Heathcliff brings up Hareton exactly in the same way Hindley had brought him up—as an ignorant boor, confined to the servants’ quarters and forced to labour hard on the farm. It is astonishing, however, that in spite of Heathcliff’s cruelty the lad has a great attachment for him, of which Heathcliff is also aware. He defends Heathcliff when Catherine criticizes him. Significantly, Heathcliff had instinctively saved his life when as a child; his father in a drunken rage had let him slip from his hands over the railings of the stairs. There is a bond of affection between the two and Hareton and Nelly are the only two people Heathcliff wishes to be present at the time of his burial.
When Heathcliff dies, Hareton is the only one who really grieves:
“He sat by the corpse all night, weeping in bitter earnest. He pressed its hand, and kissed the sarcastic savage face that everyone else shrank from contemplating .”
Hareton’s Love for Catherine
Hareton is jealous of the love of Catherine and Linton. After Linton’s death he shows his interest in Catherine but she rudely rebuffs him always insulting and putting him down. Later however, she begins to love him and takes an avid interest in educating him. The novel closes with the information that Hareton and Catherine are to be married on New Year’s day and to shift from Wuthering Heights to Thrushcross Grange.
Hareton is in fact Heathcliff’s alter-ego. Heathcliff himself recognizes this and is therefore, fond of the boy. The marriage of Cathy and Hareton is a substitute for the marriage which never took place between Catherine and Heathcliff; Hareton who is Heathcliff’s spiritual heir paves the way through his own happiness for the spiritual happiness of Heathcliff with Catherine. Significantly, his name is the same as that of the original owner of Wuthering Heights, whose name is inscribed on the building and the surly Joseph is not the only person who is pleased that the Earnshaw inheritance at last comes to its proper owner, Hareton.
LOCKWOOD (2nd Narrator)
Lockwood along with Nelly Dean is the principal narrator in the novel. While Nelly gives us the insider’s view, Lockwood gives us the impersonal objective view in the novel.
In many respects he stands for the reader. As an outsider on his first visit to the Heights, he fails to understand the strange people living there and their relationship to one another. We learn along with Lockwood about the various characters. He correctly foreshadows the curiosity of the reader in the questions that he puts to Heathcliff and later to Nelly in order to elicit information.
A Contrast to the Rustic Characters
Lockwood is unlike the other characters in the novel, who are all part of the Yorkshire moors. Lockwood, on the other hand is a man from the city who soon tires of the country life. He is fond of books and dislikes a showy display of feelings. We know little about his background and education, though, like the Lintons, he is soft, a man of sentimental impulses, though not of passions. He appears to see himself as a romantic hero and the only incident of his past life he chooses to tell us is that of his encounter with ‘a most fascinating creature, a real goddess’ (Chapter 1) He is not a man who ei1y understands the characters of others and his first judgment of Heathcliff is definitely faulty. He imagines he could have made a match with Catherine:
“What a realization of something more romantic than a fairy tale it would have been for Mrs. Linton Heathcliff, had she and I struck up an attachment…and migrated together; into the striking atmosphere of the town !‘ and is jealous when Hareton wins her in the end.
JOSEPH (Servant of Wuthering Heights)
Joseph is the sour-tempered servant at Wuthering Heights who later becomes the caretaker of the place. He is a pious, but narrow-minded hypocrite—always mouthing texts but showing no real Christian charity.
Symbolic of the Inhospitality and Roughness of the Moors
He is superstitious and bad tempered and hates others to be happy. He is grim and unfriendly throughout the novel and he has very strong likes and dislikes. Nelly calls Joseph, “the wearisome and self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bibl to rake the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbors.”
Nevertheless he is faithful to the house of Earnshaw and behaves m