Cathy Linton in Wuthering Heights: Description, Character Analysis & Quotes

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Cathy Linton is an important figure in Emily Bronte's ''Wuthering Heights''. Although her character endures a great deal of hardship, she ultimately grows to represent hope in an otherwise bleak tale.

Who Is Cathy?

Cathy Linton is the daughter of Catherine Earnshaw Linton and Edgar Linton. Cathy's mother dies giving birth to her. Before Cathy is born, her mother marries Edgar Linton to preserve her social status, though she is in love with Heathcliff. Heathcliff hates Edgar as a result, and his hatred of Edgar continues into the next generation with Heathcliff's hatred of Edgar's daughter Cathy. Heathcliff marries Edgar's sister Isabella, though he does not love her, then later drives her away.

Cathy's Childhood

Cathy looks like her father; the only feature she inherits from her mother are her eyes. Cathy knows nothing of her deceased mother's relationship with Heathcliff, and her father attempts to guard his daughter by forbidding her from going to Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff's home. Cathy's nurse Ellen Dean guides Cathy into adolescence and narrates much of the novel.

Ellen loves Cathy, and though Cathy exhibits much of her mother's temperament, she is not as arrogant and demanding as her mother had been. Ellen says, 'Her spirit was high, though not rough, and qualified by a heart sensitive and lively to excess in its affections.' She adds, 'However, it must be acknowledged, she had faults to foil her gifts. A propensity to be saucy was one; and a perverse will, that indulged children invariably acquire, whether they be good tempered or cross.'

Cathy and Linton Heathcliff

When Cathy's father Edgar learns that his sister Isabella has died, he goes to retrieve his nephew. His nephew, Linton Heathcliff, is the son of Isabella and Heathcliff. Cathy is excited to meet her cousin, but he spends just one night at the Linton home before Heathcliff demands that his son move in with him at Wuthering Heights. Linton is weak when he arrives, and Heathcliff uses his weakened condition to turn him into a demanding and sniveling young man.

Eventually, Cathy goes to visit Linton at Wuthering Heights, where he manipulates her into pitying him. This is all part of Heathcliff's plan to hurt Edgar Linton for taking Catherine from him. Cathy loves her father more than anything, and Heathcliff forces her to marry his son Linton. He imprisons her and Ellen. Cathy's father Edgar dies, and Heathcliff releases her just in time to be at her father's bedside as he dies. The sickly Linton also dies, which leaves Heathcliff owning not only Wuthering Heights, but Cathy's girlhood home Thrushcross Grange.

Cathy and Hareton

Heathcliff has taken in Hareton Earnshaw as a youngster, and he has reared him to be an uneducated oaf. Hareton is Cathy's cousin, and when she returns to Wuthering Heights after her father's death, she develops a fondness for him. She sees that he is illiterate, which causes him some embarrassment.

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