Hindley is Mr. Earnshaw’s son, and the brother of Catherine. When the siblings first meet Heathcliff, they loathe him, but where Catherine ultimately falls in love with Heathcliff, Hindley only regards him with further contempt. Following the death of Mrs. Earnshaw, Mr. Earnshaw’s neglect of his children in favor of Heathcliff prompts Hindley to enact further violence against the boy. As the spurned son, Hindley is pushed further into a villainous role.

Hindley’s temperament only worsens when he is sent away to school by his father, while Heathcliff remains close by. Upon returning as a husband and the inheritor of Wuthering Heights, Hindley wishes for vengeance and what he believes is his rightful place in both his home and the social order. Humiliating and demeaning Heathcliff makes Hindley feel powerful, but his desire for power and status cannot prevent his wife Frances from dying after giving birth to Hareton, and Hindley is ruined. Lost to booze, Hindley’s escalating cruelty and violence toward Heathcliff ultimately spell out his own doom. Hindley, now addicted to alcohol and gambling, loses all agency within the novel. His inability to control his actions, paired with his single-minded hostility toward Heathcliff, prevents him from seeing the power he is granting to Heathcliff by accepting financial assistance.

Hindley’s tragic drive stems first from a desire for control over Wuthering Heights, and then in retaliation as his life begins to crumble. The grand irony is that Hindley brings about a self-fulfilling prophecy; he essentially gifts Heathcliff control of the estate, after exerting a great amount of time and energy trying to keep Heathcliff far from it. In the end, Hindley’s death is far from noble. Having lost his wife and splintered his relationship with his son, he loses all control over his family’s estate, and dies drunk and alone, leaving nothing to Hareton.