Edgar Linton

Well-meaning but weak

Though our first sight of Edgar squabbling with his sister over a dog is not promising, he becomes a well-meaning, if weak, character. In this sense Brontë positions him as an effective contrast to Heathcliff. Using appropriate natural imagery she writes:

The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country for a beautiful fertile valley. (Chapter 8)

When he tries to be strong (such as when demanding that Heathcliff is thrown out of Thrushcross Grange in Chapter 11), he tends to appear petulant.

Edgar proves to be a faithful husband to Catherine and it is important to note that he genuinely loves her. Had Heathcliff not returned, the marriage would surely have continued quite happily. His wife’s interests are paramount for him. For example, despite knowing what is inevitable, he offers Heathcliff hospitality on his return as a ‘gentleman’ because he wants to please Catherine.

Conventional morality

Edgar is unable to truly comprehend his wife’s passions and increasing mental instability. To restore his equilibrium, he retreats to his books when his wife is unwell, until the realisation dawns that she is truly ill, at which point his compassion reasserts itself.

He resorts to notions of social order and conventional expectations in his treatment of Isabella, and can be seen as cruel in his rejection of his sister after she pursues Heathcliff, though it is not difficult to see why he does this. However, his protective care for his daughter is very evident. He loves Cathy and tries to do his very best for her.

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