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Linton Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights: Character Analysis & Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In ''Wuthering Heights'' by Emily Bronte, Linton is Heathcliff's son, but his appearance and behavior are similar to Heathcliff's enemy, Edgar Linton. In this lesson, we'll analyze Linton Heathcliff's character.

Heathcliff's Son

When Heathcliff imagined his son, what do you think he pictured? Linton Heathcliff is the product of the loveless marriage between Isabella Linton and Heathcliff. Isabella truly thought she found love in Heathcliff, but soon after they marry discovers that Heathcliff only married her to get revenge on her brother, Edgar Linton, for marrying his Catherine. In the months they are together, Heathcliff is emotionally and physically abusive. On the night it escalates into a knife fight, Isabella finally leaves, giving birth to Linton a few months later at her new home near London. Let's find out more about Linton in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Physical Characteristics

Nelly, the servant, is able to keep tabs on Isabella through mail. From birth, Linton's mother describes him as ''…an ailing, peevish creature.'' Peevish means irritable. When Heathcliff learns of the child, he asks Nelly about it, but doesn't bother them. It is the ultimate insult to Heathcliff for his child to be named after his enemy, Edgar Linton. Nelly narrates about an exchange with Heathcliff when Heathcliff learns his child's name. 'They wish me to hate it too, do they?' Heathcliff asks.

To make things worse, Linton even looks like his Uncle Edgar. Linton is thin with light skin and hair. Nelly describes her first impression of him, ''A pale, delicate, effeminate boy, who might have been taken for my master's younger brother, so strong was the resemblance: but there was a sickly peevishness in his aspect that Edgar Linton never had.''

Linton Meets His Father

After his mother dies at age twelve, Linton comes to Thrushcross Grange to live with his Uncle Edgar and Cousin Cathy. However, on his first night at the Grange, Heathcliff demands that Edgar turn his son over to him, which Edgar agrees to do the next day. When Linton wakes and hears the news, he is surprised because his mother never spoke of his father. It does not take long for him to see that Wuthering Heights is not a good place for him.

When Heathcliff sees him, he responds that he will care for him and educate him, but adds, ''I do regret, however, that he so little deserves the trouble: if I wished any blessing in the world, it was to find him a worthy object of pride; and I'm bitterly disappointed with the whey-faced, whining wretch!''

Cathy and Linton's Romance

A few years later, Cathy and Linton begin a romance when they are forbidden by Edgar to see one another, resorting to steamy letters, instead. Heathcliff finds Cathy and tells her, ''Well, you dropped Linton with it into a Slough of Despond. He was in earnest: in love, really. As true as I live, he's dying for you; breaking his heart at your fickleness: not figuratively, but actually.''

Sure enough, Linton's illness has progressed. Between the death of his mother and the scorn of his father, Cathy's rejection, and his already poor health, Linton begins to deteriorate. During their visits, Linton reveals the emotional abuse from Heathcliff as well as his insecurities, ''But I have been vexed, because you wouldn't come. And papa swore it was owing to me: he called me a pitiful, shuffling, worthless thing; and said you despised me; and if he had been in my place, he would be more the master of the Grange than your father by this time. But you don't despise me, do you, Miss?''

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