Linton Heathcliff: Character Analysis in Wuthering Heights

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      Linton Heathcliff inherits his mother Isabella's girlish appearance and weakness and his father's cruel tendencies. He is complaining, self-pitying, cowardly, unsympathetic and would pursue his cruel impulses if he had the strength. He is too abject a character to arouse the reader's sympathy.

His Arrival at the Grange

      We first meet Linton when Edgar brings him to the Grange, on the death of his mother Isabella. Catherine takes a liking to him and is glad to have a playmate. But Heathcliff lays claims of custody on his son, and much against his wishes, Edgar is forced to send Linton to the Heights. He is described as a sickly, pale, effeminate boy who bears a strong resemblance to his uncle Edgar.

His Life at the Heights

      Heathcliff is annoyed that Isabella has kept Linton in the dark about his father and abuses her. He employs a tutor for Linton but does not care much for the sickly boy. Linton, too, like his mother Isabella is to be a mere pawn in Heathcliff's scheme of revenge. Very early Heathcliff, informs Nelly that he plans to get Linton married to Catherine so that the property of the Grange could also be his.

A Pathetic, Timid and Complaining Person

      Linton is a wretched fellow. He is timid and nervous in front of his father and is mercilessly bullied by Heathcliff to form a friendship with Catherine. He does love Catherine but his health and his total subjugation to his father make it a kind of selfish love. Linton yearns for the kindness which Catherine showers on him. Catherine's love for him seems to stem from pity and Linton is actually not deserving of it. He likes to wallow in self-pity, acting more sick than he is. Once after a fight with Catherine, a coughing fit siezes him and he is not above using this excuse to emotionally blackmail her. He says, "I can't speak to you; you've hurt me so, that I shall lie awake all night choking with this cough." And when Catherine is to leave he says, "You must come, to cure me. You ought to come because you have hurt me you know you have extremely! I was not as ill when you entered as I am at present."

His Total Submission to Heathcliff

      He does not have the strong spirit of his father and is totally terrorized by Heathcliff. Linton falls in with all of Heathcliff's plans even when it means harming Catherine who has always shown love an in ness to him. He lures Catherine and Nelly to the Heights on the instructions of his father and keeps them imprisoned till Catherine is forcibly married to him. He is more sick than ever and Nelly realizes that he will not survive long. Morose, disinclined to talk, he is too scared of Heathcliff frequently seeking the protection of Catherine. He finally does yield to Catherine's and Nelly's entreaty and allows Catherine to escape and visit her dying father. He is however, severely punished for this by Heathcliff.

His Pathetic End

      Linton's end is as pathetic as his life has been. Unloved and uncared for by his own father Heathcliff, he dies without even the succor of a doctor or medicines, for, Heathcliff says "his life is not worth a farthing, and I won't spend a farthing on him." Linton is a wasted life. Had he been encouraged and well looked after he might have grown up to be a fine gentleman like his uncle Edgar. Instead, he meets a pathetic early death. He is a weak character but we remember his dire state of health, the constant pain and distress he suffers as the miserable isolation he ensures in Wuthering Heights, before we pass harsh judgments on him.

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