Friday, 18 January 2013

The characters in "Wuthering Heights". Linton Heathcliff.

"Wuthering Heights" is 1 of those books where I like none of the characters. While I love the love story of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, I must admit that Heathcliff is hard, coarse, savage, aggressive, angry, vengeful, violent, tempestuous, brutal... and Catherine is mean, mischievous, egoistic, selfish, savage, self-contradicting, unpredictable, wild, fierce... The fact is, they don't love anybody. Think of Heathcliff, I think of darkness, hatred and revenge- hatred burns within him for a long time and his sole ambition in life is to take a revenge on Hindley and Edgar and perhaps also Catherine. Catherine can be nice once in a while, for example when she warns Isabella about Heathcliff, she says it because she understands him better than anybody and knows Isabella will not be happy, that's 1 of the few times when she cares about somebody and wants to do good for somebody. Most of the time she only thinks of herself. Her love for Edgar is 1st a love for what she doesn't have- class, elegance, an education, good behaviour, and 2nd a love for herself and what she can have when marrying him. Catherine and Heathcliff love each other, with a strong, stormy love, and no one else because they are the same and understand each other more than anybody does, but, I don't think, without Edgar, Heathcliff and Catherine would be happy together, because as I see, they have the tendency to torment each other, to make each other sad and miserable. 
Hindley Earnshaw and Edgar Linton are both weak, though there are differences, Edgar is a good, honest, honourable man and Hindley is mean, jealous, but both are weak, just in different ways- Hindley destroys himself and, with drinking and gambling, brings about his own ruin, which Edgar doesn't do, but he's still weak in character, shown by the way he deals with Heathcliff and educates Cathy, passive in many circumstances. He doesn't have the strength and firmness that can stop Cathy from going to Wuthering Heights. In a way, I think Isabella Linton is stronger- in the sense that he still stays there whereas Isabella leaves and goes away from Heathcliff's control and influence. I agree with many people that Isabella is the true, or conventional, tragic romantic figure of this novel, but personally I don't like her better than other characters. Initially she appears nice, educated but boring, then, when admitting to Catherine her love for, or rather, her infatuation with Heathcliff and then not listening to either Catherine or Nelly, she becomes naive, stubborn, irrational, impulsive and foolish, creating a different image of Heathcliff in her mind. 
In "Wuthering Heights" we can see doubles and opposites. I myself would link Isabella with Cathy Linton. Cathy, in my opinion, has more in common with her aunt than her own mother, which is not strange because Catherine dies after giving birth to Cathy and Cathy is then brought up by Edgar Linton, who grows up with Isabella. It's not told in detail, but there may be certain similarities in the way Edgar treats his daughter and his younger sister. Whatever the case, while also active, energetic and sometimes selfish like her own mother, Cathy, very often, is naive, stubborn, irrational, impulsive and foolish.
Now, in the middle of chapter 14 of volume 2, I do not wish to comment on Hareton Earnshaw, Joseph and Nelly Dean for the time being, which I may or may not do later depending on my mood, I may even change my mind about Heathcliff when the love between Hareton and Cathy develops (well I knew the story before reading this book), but at the moment the character that creates the strongest impression on me is Linton Heathcliff, even though he's often ignored in the list of characters. Emily Bronte has the talent to make the characters come alive and appear so real. To me, Linton elicits even more complex emotions than Heathcliff and Catherine do. When he 1st appears, he strikes one as being pale, thin, frail, languid and effeminate. As the story goes on, he moves from his mother's place to his father's (after her death), the character develops. Sickly, morose, peevish, whiny, selfish, passive, physically and mentally weak... Sometimes he makes me feel sympathetic and sad for him because he, like other Lintons, is very weak, even weaker and sick all the time, and yet he has to live with and put up with a cruel, domineering father like Heathcliff, who despises him and who keeps calling him a worthless wretch. But sometimes I still feel sick of him, of the way he cares of nothing and no one but his own suffering and doesn't want to do anything. I imagine Linton having a thin voice, effeminate, perhaps a bit high-pitched, sounding very annoying. Just as I feel Cathy is more similar to her aunt Isabella, Linton is also more similar to his uncle Edgar than his own father Heathcliff, similar in the way that he's very weak in both strength and character. I now and then have some pity for him, dislike him without hating him, because I think, how can anybody be cheerful when always sick and on the verge of dying? And Heathcliff treats him so badly. Especially in the scene where he's outside the house, with Cathy and Nelly, and later, seeing Heathcliff, Linton appears so pathetic and fearful, and in such health, he can never run away the way his mother has done. 
However, I've changed my mind. Like other characters by Emily Bronte, Linton's a fascinatingly colourful person. Once inside his house, no longer suffering from heat, he changes. He says horrible things like "I can't stay with her. I'll not stay, by myself. She cries so I can't bear it. [...] moaning and grieving, all night long, though I screamed for vexation that I couldn't sleep." And "... I sometimes think she can't speak for pain. I don't like to think so! but she's a naughty thing for crying continually; and she looks so pale and wild, I'm afraid of her!" Worse, he also says "He's in the court, talking to Doctor Kenneth who says uncle is dying, truly, at last- I'm glad, for I shall be master of the Grange after him- and Catherine always spoke of it as her house. It isn't hers! It's mine- papa says everything she has is mine. All her nice books are mine- she offered to give me them, and her pretty birds, and her pony Minny, if I would get the key of our room, and let her out: but I told her she had nothing to give, they were all, all mine." It's most outrageous when Nelly asks about his feeling when he sees Heathcliff beat Cathy, he says "I winked. I wink to see my father strike a dog, or a horse, he does it so hard- yet I was glad at 1st- she deserved punishing for pushing me..." 
One may say, he doesn't know what love is, living with Heathcliff, but he has more than a decade with his mother, who I don't think doesn't love him. One may say, it's understandable that a person in sickness and pain thinks more of his own suffering. But whatever the case, Linton, like Heathcliff, is despicable and heartless; worse, he's petty, selfish and without any redeeming quality such as the ability to love. I believe, his heart has the darkness like Heathcliff's that doesn't lead to brutal and violent acts only because of his poor health and lack of strength.

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