In Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Edgar Linton’s kind, forbearing, and innocent personality truly set him apart and categorize him directly as Heathcliff’s adversary. Heathcliff’s harsh, merciless, hateful, and mannerless way of carrying himself makes his opposition with Edgar evident very early on. Because of the vast ocean of conflict that occurs between these two men in the novel, they are the perfect pair to analyze in order to understand Bronte’s characters and their motives in Wuthering Heights.
The narrator in Wuthering Heights for the majority of the novel is Nelly Dean, a young woman that had grown up at the Heights. She is now the maid at Thrushcross Grange (another estate not far from the Heights), and tells her new tenant, Mr. Lockwood, who is renting Thrushcross Grange from Heathcliff, the story of how everything came to be the way it is at the time that he arrives. In the first chapter, Lockwood states, “1801-I have just returned from a visit to my landlord-the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with” (Bronte 9). He is exceedingly curious about this landlord, Heathcliff, and wants Nelly to tell him her story to better understand the situation. He starts, “Well, Mrs. Dean, it will be a charitable deed to tell me something of my neighbours. I feel I shall not rest” (Bronte 39). Nelly begins to tell Lockwood the history of her life and of the lives around them as she states, “I was almost always at Wuthering Heights; because my mother had nursed Mr. Hindley Earnshaw” (Bronte 40). This is when we begin to uncover the differences between Heathcliff and Edgar Linton as the story unfolds.
In the beginning of the novel, the reader may feel sympathy for Heathcliff. Hav...
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...d at seeing his lady vexed” (93).
Edgar’s childhood, inherited financial stability, and reputable name directly place him in a position superior to Heathcliff, but his personality sets him apart as well. It is evident in the way he treats Catherine that he has a completely different perspective than Heathcliff. While readers may observe that Heathcliff loves Catherine based on his depression in her absence and how broken he is over her choice of Edgar (84), they may likewise consider Edgar’s obvious displays of affection and concern for her well-being to be a much more credible source of love. It is likely that both men have a true desire to be the source of Catherine’s happiness, and desire for her to know the sincerity of their love for her. However, their ways of expressing those desires, amongst their many other differences, are what characterize them as enemies.
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