Notes on Characters from Wuthering Heights

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Wuthering Heights Major Characters

Mr. Lockwood: One of the narrators. He rents Thrushcross Grange from Mr. Heathcliff, and his housekeeper is Nelly Dean. After a disastrous visit to Wuthering Heights, in which he is visited by the ghost of Catherine Linton, Mr. Lockwood asks Nelly to tell him about Heathcliff and the Earnshaw family.

Mr. Heathcliff: The orphan boy Mr. Earnshaw found in Liverpool. He becomes Mr. Earnshaw's foster son, and the foster brother of Catherine and Hindley. He looks very different with his dark skin, hair, and eyes, and his speech is at first incoherent. He becomes best friends with Catherine, but Hindley hates him. Father favors Heathcliff, and becomes furious when he is treated poorly. They form a sort of team, though Heathcliff never shows much love or appreciation. He eventually becomes selfish and mean from all this attention, and his favored spot means he can get what he wants from his brother and sister. After Mr. Earnshaw's death, Hindley returns and makes Heathcliff a servant, refusing him the right to speak to Catherine. Life becomes miserable, and the little outsider blames Hindley; revenge becomes his only goal in life. Grown evil and cruel, he gets his chance when Hindley becomes mad after his wife's death, and Heathcliff is able to take Wuthering Heights from him. Catherine, his love, marries Edgar Linton and dies in childbirth. To revenge himself against the Lintons, Heathcliff marries Edgar's sister, treats her terribly, and raises their son only because he can help further his revenge. And when he forces Catherine's daughter to marry Linton, his revenge is nearly complete. Heathcliff is a man on the edge: spiteful, mad, and insecure. He went mad after Catherine's death, when he asked her to haunt him until he died. From her death until his own, he believes himself haunted by her ghost. Prior to his own death, he withdrew from everyone, wandering the moors. After his death, people claim he became a ghost himself, wandering the moors with Catherine.

Joseph: The self-righteous servant at Wuthering Heights. He feels that everyone is bent for hell except himself, and he is constantly pushing his morality. He is unkind and cold, and cares only for Hareton; he somehow feels he was meant for a greater destiny.

Hareton Earnshaw: The son of Hindley and Frances Earnshaw, and the cousin of Cathy and Linton. He is the rightful heir of Wuthering Heights, but his father's gambling debts allow Heathcliff to take over as the new owner. Hareton doesn't know what he lost, and is made to work in the fields, without education, manners, or affection. He is not dumb, but his gifts have gone uncultivated. He begins to teach himself to read, hoping to gain the approval of the young Catherine, but she constantly insults him, thinking him too vulgar to be her cousin. After the death of Linton, Catherine warms to Hareton. She helps him with his learning and his manners, and the two fall in love, planning to marry soon. Despite his poor treatment, Hareton loves Heathcliff like a father, and he is the only one who mourns him when he dies.

Catherine Linton Heathcliff: The daughter of Edgar Linton and Catherine Earnshaw, and the cousin to Hareton and Linton. She is a sweet, loving girl, and her father is the most important person in her life. She can be cruel; she makes fun of Hareton's ignorance and then his attempt to improve himself. Heathcliff locks her up until she agrees to marry Linton. Her beloved father dies soon after, and she becomes cold and uncaring under the influence of Heathcliff, Hareton, and Joseph. But when Linton dies and she is forced into their company, she forms an alliance with Hareton. She treats him nicer, and the two fall in love, and plan to marry.

Catherine Earnshaw Linton: The daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Earnshaw, sister to Hindley and Heathcliff. She can be wild and impulsive, and she likes to make trouble. Though mischievous, she is not a cruel person. She can love tenderly, but her temper can often override her loyalty. As a child, she befriends Heathcliff, and she loves him and feels he is a part of her. But she chooses to marry Edgar, which infuriates Heathcliff. Despite her marriage, she still loves him, though they are divided and he is still hurt by her marriage. After a tumultuous visit, Catherine refuses food, hoping to become ill. She goes mad and dies, after giving birth to a baby girl, Catherine. Though dead and buried near the moors, Catherine's ghost wanders, haunting Heathcliff and even appearing to Mr. Lockwood.

Hindley Earnshaw: The son of Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw, brother to Catherine and Heathcliff. He hates Heathcliff, who is father's favorite. When he returns from college after his father's death, he and his new wife become the heads of the house. He turns Heathcliff into a servant, and treats his other sibling like she is an annoyance. His wife dies after Hareton is born, and Hindley cannot stand the grief. He is a selfish man, and he cannot understand why someone so important was taken from him. He ignores his new son, and starts drinking. He becomes more drunken, crazy, and violent as time wears on. He loses Wuthering Heights to Heathcliff, and dies soon after his sister.

Nelly Dean: The Earnshaw's maid. She tells Mr. Lockwood the story of the Earnshaws and the Lintons while he is sick with a cold. She knows the story well because she has been at the Heights or the Grange all her life. Her mother was a servant for the Earnshaws, and Nelly grew up with Catherine, Hindley, and Heathcliff. Therefore, she is less reserved and formal with her master and mistress, treating them more as family than bosses. She has lots of advice to offer, and she likes to meddle.

Edgar Linton: The son of Mr. and Mrs. Linton, brother to Isabella. He is a delicate boy, a contrast to Heathcliff. He and Catherine Earnshaw fall in love and marry. He indulges his tempestuous wife, and lavishes her with affection. But she does not love Edgar the way she loves Heathcliff, and she scorns her husband's nonviolent nature. After Catherine's death, Edgar is a caring and protective father to Cathy. He is afraid Heathcliff will get his revenge through Cathy, and he tries his best to keep his daughter away from the Heights.

Linton Heathcliff: The son of Heathcliff and Isabella Linton, and the cousin of young Catherine and Hareton. He is weak and sickly, and his good nature is soured during his time at Wuthering Heights. He becomes selfish and complaining, and he is so cowardly that he agrees to help his father imprison Cathy. He and his cousin marry, and he does not even treat her well. After the marriage, his father loses all interest in his passive son, and Linton dies.

Isabella Linton Heathcliff: The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Linton, sister to Edgar Linton. She falls in love with Heathcliff despite his ill nature. Her brother disapproves, so she runs away with him. At first she is dazzled by Heathcliff, and turns a blind eye to his violent and cruel tendencies. Her own violent and cruel tendencies come out, and she finally escapes from Heathcliff. She moves away and secretly has their child, Linton. She dies twelve years later.

Minor Characters

Zillah: The maid at Wuthering Heights.

Mr. Earnshaw: The father of Catherine and Hindley, foster father of Heathcliff. He loves his children, but wishes Catherine and Hindley were better behaved. Catherine is too wild, and Hindley is often mean to Heathcliff, his favorite. When he dies, the property falls to Hindley, who treats the former favorite as a servant.

Frances Earnshaw: The wife of Hindley Earnshaw, mother of Hareton Earnshaw. A silly woman, she at first pampers her new sister, then tires of her. She eventually shares in her husband's tyrannical rule of the house. She fears death, and soon after giving birth to Hareton, she dies, leaving her husband to become mad with grief, and her child an uncared for pauper.

Mrs. Earnshaw: The mother of Catherine and Hindley. She is not happy to see that her husband has brought home a strange orphan boy for them to raise.

Mr. and Mrs. Linton: The parents of Isabella and Edgar, and the owners of Thrushcross Grange. They like Catherine, but are disgusted with Heathcliff and his vulgar language. They visit Catherine when she is ill, then fall ill themselves and die.

Mr. Kenneth: The town doctor who attends to the families' many illnesses.

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