Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights: Description & Analysis

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

Isabella Linton is a complex character in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. She begins as a spoiled brat who has tantrums about puppies, but ends up a strong woman who seeks to protect her family.

First Impressions

If we were to judge Isabella Linton from Wuthering Heights by the first impression we have of her, we would not end up with a favorable opinion at all. We meet her when she is just a child. She and her brother are fighting over a puppy, and Isabella ''lay screaming at the farther end of the room, shrieking as if witches were running red-hot needles into her.'' We are told she is pretty, rich and spoiled without much else to recommend her. As she grows, we do get to know her a little better, but the impact of this first impression lingers.

Old Habits Die Hard

After Isabella's brother Edgar marries Catherine, Isabella takes a special liking to Heathcliff, Catherine's childhood friend and would-be lover. Just as in the episode with the puppy, we see Isabella having a bit of a tantrum here when she sees someone else in possession of something she wants. Heathcliff loves Catherine, and has for many years, but Isabella insists to Catherine, ''he might love me, if you would let him!'' She believes Catherine is selfishly keeping all of Heathcliff's affection for herself, and if she were to get out of the way, Isabella believes she and Heathcliff would have a shot at true happiness. How very wrong she is!

Isabella's Feelings are Exploited

Once Heathcliff discovers Isabella's affection for him, he tells Catherine how he not only dislikes Isabella, but he detests her! He has nothing but ill feelings for her. He even goes on to say that, if he were to marry her he would pass the time by ''turning the blue eyes black, every day or two.'' Sadly, however, Heathcliff is ever ambitious and grasping, and he can't help but see the financial advantage in a union with Isabella, and he pursues her accordingly.

Harsh Reality

It doesn't take much for Heathcliff to convince Isabella to run off with him. A few words here, a stolen kiss there...and voila! Isabella runs off in the night to marry Heathcliff. If only she had taken a hint about his true character when he strung up her pet dog in the garden. Alas, however, off she goes only to find herself imprisoned in a dingy house and alternately neglected and abused. Heathcliff not only doesn't love her, but he despises her. He wants only her fortune.

Remorse and Strength

As Isabella realizes the full calamity of her decision, she writes to her former servant, Nelly. In that letter she says, ''my heart returned to Thrushcross Grange in twenty-four hours after I left it, and is there at this moment, full of warm feelings.'' Despite her remorse and the terrible circumstances in which she now lives, Isabella does not beg to be taken back in to her brother's home. Instead, she displays considerable strength and endurance for his sake.

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