Edgar Linton in Wuthering Heights: Character Analysis & Concept

Instructor: Megan Pryor

Megan has tutored extensively and has a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Fiction.

Most people associate the novel 'Wuthering Heights' with the brooding character of Heathcliff. But Edgar Linton is an important figure in the novel, too. In this lesson, we will learn about his role and analyze his character. A short quiz will follow.

Introduction

Published in 1847, Wuthering Heights is a novel written by Emily Brontë. While her sister, Charlotte Brontë, also wrote books, Wuthering Heights is Emily's only novel. The story is about an estate named Wuthering Heights and tells the story of two families: the Earnshaws, who live at Wuthering Heights, and the Lintons, who live nearby at Thrushcross Grange. In particular, it is the story of Heathcliff, a moody, orphaned gypsy boy adopted by Mr. Earnshaw, and his tumultuous relationship with Mr. Earnshaw's daughter, Catherine. Edgar Linton is the son of the Lintons, who live at Thrushcross Grange. He eventually marries Catherine and has a child with her.

Chart of the Characters in Wuthering Heights
Chart Of Characters In Wuthering Heights

Catherine and Edgar's Meeting

Catherine Earnshaw first meets the Lintons when she and Heathcliff are sneaking around on the Moors (the land both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are built on). They are spying on the Lintons when they are caught. Catherine is injured by the Lintons' dog. She ends up staying with the Lintons due to her injury, during which time she meets Edgar Linton.

Character Description

Edgar Linton is Heathcliff's complete foil or opposite, both in terms of personality and also physical appearance. Whereas Heathcliff is described as dark and brooding, Edgar Linton is described as youthful, slender and soft-featured, with fair skin, light hair and blue eyes.

Edgar also is more mannered than Heathcliff. After Catherine leaves the Lintons' company, she is impressed with their manners and behavior. They are, overall, a good influence on Catherine, but not enough to combat her obsession with the darker Heathcliff.

Role in the Novel

Even though Catherine loves Heathcliff, she marries Edgar Linton. She knows that if she marries Heathcliff, it will not benefit either of them in terms of social standing. So she marries Edgar in the hopes that it will raise Heathcliff's status too, since he is technically her foster brother. Because of her rejection of Heathcliff, he runs away. When he returns, he has made a small fortune for himself, which impresses Catherine. Heathcliff is upset that Catherine and Edgar got married, so he manipulates the feelings Edgar's sister, Isabella, has for him. This irritates Edgar and also makes Catherine jealous.

Heathcliff and Isabella run away together. When they come back, Catherine is seriously ill. She gives birth to a daughter, Cathy, and then dies.

Edgar cares for Cathy. In the meantime, Isabella and Heathcliff split up, but not before she gets pregnant and gives birth to their son, Linton. When Isabella dies twelve years later, Edgar brings Linton home. Heathcliff demands that Linton live with him at Wuthering Heights, rather than Thrushcross Grange.

Heathcliff further demands that Cathy, Edgar's daughter, stay at Wuthering Heights because he wants her to marry Linton so that Linton will inherit Thrushcross Grange. Even when Edgar gets sick, Heathcliff does not want Cathy to return to Thrushcross Grange out of spite for Edgar. She runs away and sees her father before he dies, but then she is forced to move back to Wuthering Heights before Heathcliff himself dies.

Character Analysis

Edgar Linton is a relatively kind, moral and good-mannered individual - at least compared to Heathcliff. Although, to be fair, Heathcliff was bullied most of his life by his adoptive brother, Hindley, so he never really got the chance to develop appropriate social manners.

When Edgar is first introduced in the book, he comes across as being weepy and spoiled, but he gets better as he grows up. Edgar also wears his heart on his sleeve - whether it's his dislike of Heathcliff, who manages to get under his skin like no one else, or whether it's his unrelenting affection for Catherine. This is seen as an unmanly trait, especially for the time period, but it does not prevent Catherine from agreeing to marry him. It's possible that Catherine's decision to marry Edgar basically for the social prestige is a criticism of the gender system at play during that time period; women back then were often forced to marry for economic concerns rather than love.

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