Wuthering Heights

by: Emily Brontë

Edgar Linton

Edgar and his sister had it entirely to themselves. Shouldn’t they have been happy? We should have thought ourselves in heaven! . . . Edgar stood on the hearth weeping silently, and in the middle of the table sat a little dog, shaking its paw and yelping; which, from their mutual accusations, we understood they had nearly pulled in two between them. The idiots! That was their pleasure! to quarrel who should hold a heap of warm hair, and each begin to cry because both, after struggling to get it, refused to take it.

Heathcliff describes to Nelly his first impressions of Edgar as a child. Edgar lived in complete luxury, often not appreciating what he had, and then judged others for not having the same privileges. The judgment Heathcliff feels from Edgar and so many others in his life plays a significant role in turning him into a jealous, evil, and vengeful man.

[Y]oung Linton entered, his face brilliant with delight at the unexpected summons he had received. . . . He had a sweet, low manner of speaking, and pronounced his words as you do: that’s less gruff than we talk here, and softer.

Nelly describes Edgar Linton when he comes to visit Catherine early in their relationship. Catherine has noted the contrast between Edgar and Heathcliff in Edgar’s gentleness and good manners. Nelly’s description also reveals how early Edgar’s heartfelt admiration for Catherine started.

Edgar did not mean to entertain him with any high flights of passion . . . ‘I’ve been so far forbearing with you, sir,’ he said quietly; ‘not that I was ignorant of your miserable, degraded character, but I felt you were only partly responsible for that; and Catherine wishing to keep up your acquaintance, I acquiesced—foolishly. Your presence is a moral poison…for that cause, and to prevent worse consequences, I shall deny you hereafter admission into this house, and give notice now that I require your instant departure.’

Edgar Linton addresses Heathcliff after one of Heathcliff’s visits at Thrushcross Grange. Despite being angry and feeling provoked by Heathcliff, Edgar maintains a calm, rational demeanor when asking Heathcliff to leave and not return. Edgar Linton’s ability to collect his emotions and stay calm in difficult situations attests to the strength of his character.

‘Will you give up Heathcliff hereafter, or will you give up me? It is impossible for you to be my friend and his at the same time; and I absolutely require to know which you choose.’

Edgar gives Catherine an ultimatum regarding her friendship with Heathcliff. As he makes his expectations clear, Edgar remains calm and rational in his request. Once again, Edgar proves himself a true gentleman even in the most stressful situations. While most would appreciate this behavior as evidence of good character, Catherine interprets his demeanor as weak and emotionless, which adds fuel to the conflict.

Edgar Linton had his head laid on the pillow, and his eyes shut. His young and fair features were almost as deathlike as those of the form beside him, and almost as fixed: but his was the hush of exhausted anguish, and hers of perfect peace.

Nelly Dean describes the scene after Catherine dies, explaining how Edgar Linton appears as deathlike as Catherine due to his grief and sadness. Prior to Catherine’s death, Edgar dotes on Catherine, and despite her continued deception in continuing to see Heathcliff, Edgar forgives her and loves her anyway. His genuine love and subsequent grief reveal his loyal and upstanding character.

I used to draw a comparison between him and Hindley Earnshaw . . . They had both been fond husbands, and were both attached to their children; and I could not see how they shouldn’t both have taken the same road, for good or evil . . . Linton, on the contrary, displayed a true courage of loyal and faithful soul: he trusted God; and God comforted him. One hoped, and the other despaired[.]

Nelly explains to Mr. Lockwood how Edgar loves and cares for young Catherine in the same gentle and devoted way as he cared for his wife Catherine. Edgar consistently demonstrates his goodness, courage, and resilience. By finding a strong connection with young Catherine beyond the bond of father and child, Edgar carries on with a life well-lived despite any sadness or grief in his past.

Edgar Linton was silent a minute; an expression of exceeding sorrow overcast his features: he would have pitied the child on his own account; but, recalling Isabella’s hopes and fears, and anxious wishes for her son . . . he grieved bitterly at the prospect of yielding him up, and searched in his heart how it might be avoided.

Nelly describes Edgar’s misgivings about giving up custody of his sister’s child to Isabella’s widower, Heathcliff. Linton, Isabella’s son, has been living with Edgar at Thrushcross Grange. Edgar’s response of sorrow shows his devotion to the deceased Isabella as a caring brother and uncle. At the same time, Edgar reacts passively, too calm and complacent even in desperate times.

He could not bear to discourse long on the topic; for though he spoke little of it, he still felt the same horror and detestation of his ancient enemy that had occupied his heart ever since Mrs. Linton’s death . . . in his eyes, Heathcliff seemed a murderer.

Nelly describes how Edgar struggles to talk to young Catherine about Heathcliff’s past infractions because he blames Heathcliff for Catherine’s death. Despite his typical calm and cool character, we see that Edgar does have his breaking points. Looking through Edgar’s eyes, the reader sees his deep love for Catherine, hatred for Heathcliff, and fatherly concern for young Catherine.

‘Her affection for him was still the chief sentiment in her heart; and he spoke without anger: he spoke in the deep tenderness of one about to leave his treasure amid perils and foes, where his remembered words would be the only aid that he could bequeath to guide her.’

Nelly explains to Mr. Lockwood that, despite being told to stay away from Wuthering Heights by Edgar Linton, young Catherine secretly visits Wuthering Heights to see Linton. Nelly describes Edgar Linton as a gentle father with a strong bond with young Catherine. Nelly’s words also hint that Edgar Linton senses that he will die soon, so he wants to do what he can to prepare young Catherine.

He died blissfully, Mr. Lockwood: he died so. Kissing her cheek, he murmured—‘I am going to her; and you, darling child, shall come to us!’ and never stirred or spoke again; but continued to rapt, radiant gaze, till his pulse imperceptibly stopped and his soul departed.

Even in his final moments of life, Edgar Linton shows himself to be a devoted and loving father who “died blissfully” simply because he had his daughter by his side. In these final moments, Edgar shows a strong faith, loyal love for Catherine and young Catherine, and a reminder of his calm, appeasing nature as he gracefully accepts his death.