In "Wuthering Heights," Emily Bronte created some seriously distinct characters, in very crafty ways! Let's begin with Catharine. When we are first introduced to her character, she is a mischievous and insolent little girl. But after Heathcliffe comes to live with the Earnshaw family, something snaps. The two eventually become eerily inseparable. Now, I love a good "I can't live without you" type relationship, but the one shared between those two is disturbing! "I am Heathcliffe-he's always, always in my mind- as my own being." (pg. 60) That's just taking it a step too far. In my opinion, if Catharine hadn't ever met Healthcliffe, she would have been a much saner person. She wouldn't have morphed into this psychotic woman who is always on the verge of suicide. A normal woman wouldn't just sit in a room and "lay dashing her head against the arm of the sofa, and grinding her teeth." (pg. 87)
Now let's shift to Healthcliffe, the other half to that wacko whole. Bronte was sneaky in accordance with his character. She wanted to make sure that she had gathered our sympathy for him. He was rescued from the streets of Liverpool, parentless and starving. Just writing that sentence captured my heart. But then she snatched the ground from underneath our feet! Turns out, the little orphan is a vengeful devil. He ensnares poor Isabella into a nightmare of a marriage and makes sure that Hindley is completely indebted to him, all for revenge. When talking of his son, he said, "'But I'll have it... when I want it. They may reckon on that!'"
I believe Bronte wanted her readers to stereotype Edgar and Isabella Linton. They were both introduced as pampered and priveleged children. Usually, those two characteristics surmount to snobby adults. But they are quite the opposite. They both encompassed the most personable and caring personalities of the entire novel and were entangled in the unsettling Catharine/Healthcliffe situation. Both were in love, or once in love, with two people who weren't capable of returning the act.
As for character foils, Linton offsets Healthcliffe. Linton posses a gentle and unconditional nature. No matter what, he remained by her side "watching every shade, and every change of her painfully expressive features." (pg. 97) Heathcliffe is the complete contrast. Whereas Linton is tender and compassionate, he is brutal and ruthless. He "has no pity! The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush out their entrails." (pg. 112)
Both Catharine and Heathcliffe are manifestations of utterly consuming love. They symbolize the type that devours your soul; without the other, one cannot bear to survive. The emotions shared between them represent all the unsettling one buried deep with our core. In summation, they "cannot live without my life... cannot live without my soul!" (pg. 124)
Isabella is representation youthful innocence. She didn't know what lied ahead concerning her marriage. She thought he genuinely loved and cared for her. But she only fell prey to his vicious plan for revenge. She had "been a fool!" (pg. 107)
Without a doubt, I sympathasize entirely with the Lintons! They fell for two of the most freaky and mentally unstable people I have ever read of in my life! No one should experience love in that form or fashion. It is supposed to be beautiful, not cruel and sadistic.
Discuss the tactics used by Bronte to develop the characters of Linton, Isabella, Catherine, and Heathcliffe. How are they character foils? What could they symbolize? Which characters do you sympathize with, and why?
Catherine "Cathy" is the daughter of Edgar Linton and Catherine Earnshow (later Linton). While Catherine Linton gave birth to Cathy, she died in the process. Cathy was described as a "puny, seven month's child." (pg. 121) Bronte develops Catherine into a spirited young girl whose perfect idea of heaven's happiness was "rocking in a rustling green tree, with a west wind blowing, and bright, white clouds flitting rapidly above.." (pg. 182) She often questions her family history as she goes against her father's wishes and visits Wuthering Heights.
Isabella was raised in the safe, elegant environment of Thrushcross Grange, with her brother Edgar. There she takes Catherine in where her "manners much improved." (pg. 37) When Heathcliffe comes to visit Catherine unexpectedly one day, Isabella evinces a "sudden and irresistible attraction towards the tolerated guest." (pg. 74) Heathcliffe and Isabella soon elope and Isabella goes to live at Wuthering Heights where she is extremely unhappy. Bronte develops Isabella into a elegant, rich, young lady to a woman who is unhappy with her husband and place of living.
Linton is born to Heathcliffe and Isabella. Isabella is not with Heathcliffe at this time and falls sick and writes to Edgar for him to "deliver Linton safely into his hands." (pg. 141) Linton is six months younger than Cathy who is very puny and always sick. Bronte develops him into a character who doesn't take control to one who follows after his father, Heathcliffe, who tries to get a hold of Cathy's inheritance.
Heathcliffe was an abandoned child that Mr. Earnshaw took in. He grows into a nice looking young man who is evil, mean, and snapping. While a child, he seemed " sullen, patient child; hardened, perhaps, to ill-treament." (pg. 27) "He would stand Hindley's blows without winking or shedding a tear." (pg. 27) I find this the reason that Heathcliffe turns into the mean man he becomes later in he novel. Bronte develops Heathcliffe into an innocent young boy to a man who doesn't care about others but himself.
I believe that Linton is a character foil for Heathcliffe. Linton is a sweet, young boy who grows to be fearful of his father. Heathcliffe even goes on to say that Linton's "mother was a wicked slut to leave [him] in ignorance of the father [he] possessed." (pg. 153) Heathcliffe is just an evil man to his young son which his horrible and an un-father like.
The character that I most sympathize with is Linton as he is in such poor health and has to live with stinky old Heathcliffe who is always in a bad mood. I don't think that Linton deserves to live with such an evil man as he has never knew of his father.
Let start off with saying Bronte had an amazing imagination. I love reading books that throw you through a loop the entire time you read it. The characters Bronte made start off normal so you think, and then they alter in a way you don’t see coming. Such as Heathcliff, you read he is an orphan, and I know when I read that I immediately felt bad for him, which I think was Brontes plan, because you quickly realize that Heathcliff is nowhere near as appreciative as I think he would be. He is quite an evil man, but I still sympathize for him slightly because he did have a hard life at first and it can be hard to change your attitude to someone when you’re not really sure what is coming next.
Next, there is Catherine. She is introduced as what seemed to be an innocent being. Although throughout the book she is actually a little insane. But I think her love with Heathcliff is what made her that way. She fell for the bad boy and you can definitely tell without Heathcliff she wouldn’t have been such a psycho, because Heathcliff just isn’t her type, So her mind goes crazy trying to make him her type. Or at least that is how I see it.
Isabella fell in the same trap Catherine did, by falling for Heathcliff. He seems to draw people in with an altered personality then quickly turns for the worse when he catches them. Although with Catherine, it was different because he truly loved her. With Isabella, He dragged her in for revenge all because Isabella’s brother married Catherine, and even though Isabella had nothing to do with it, she was now trapped into a dreadful marriage with no one around to help her. This was very well planned on Heathcliff’s part because I believe he knew if he had Isabella, Edgar would disown her. And Catherine certainly wasn’t going to step in because she still loves Heathcliff in the back of her mind.
If it isn’t bad enough that Isabella has to deal with Heathcliff, she has a baby with him. So now we move on to Linton. Linton was raised by Isabella in London, because that is where she ran away to. And when Linton moved into Wuthering Heights with Heathcliff, he was treated horribly. Heathcliff hated him, and I think this is because his plan for revenge didn’t work out his way and with Isabella gone; he has no one else to take it out on.
Linton is the complete opposite of his father, Heathcliff. Linton is an innocent young boy, and his father is corrupted and cruel. Catherine and Heathcliff represent an obsessive love that went wrong, pretty much. Can’t live with each other, but definitely can’t live without each other either. It is a psychotic love. And Isabella is thrown into the mix as just an innocent girl pulled into a ring of fire. She is a representation of purity in my mind.
So far I sympathize for Heathcliff and Isabella. Both opposites, but they both weren’t treated as they should. Heathcliff is cruel and insane, but he has right to be a little corrupted, granted not as much as he because he was taken in and raised further on in a good household, but you can’t change the memories of what has happened before. That would make anyone crazy. And Isabella because she truly thought she found her love and protection, and hadn’t a clue that it was just a lie to get revenge on his true love. She was brought into the situation for the wrong reasons, and with her being so innocent she didn’t see it coming, and once it happen there wasn’t anything she could do. She was trapped.
HulseyTCHS 12th AP Lit