The Character of Edgar Linton

Edgar is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Linton, the heir to the estate of Thrushcross Grange and most importantly a foil to Heathcliff, everything about the two boys/men is different and their one common denominator, being their love for Catherine Earnshaw. Edgar's world is one of pampered, comfort and wealth, his home, Thrushcross Grange, is "a splendid place carpeted with crimson and crimson covered chairs and tables" - "white ceiling bordered by gold" - "glass drops hanging from silver chains". The mode of Edgar's dress on his childhood visits to the Heights suggests this rich and pampered lifestyle, he and his sister are smothered in furs, a metaphorical protection against the society which exists within the Heights and its wild and natural surroundings.

Edgar is portrayed as a petty and precocious child. His attitude to Heathcliff's first visit to the Grange reflects his sense of superiority, he is petty and sullen and is seen weeping as a result of a quarrel over a little dog. Heathcliff's reaction to this "To quarrel over who should hold a heap of warm hair" projects Edgar as a weak and petty individual from the outset of the novel. In her recollections, Nelly Dean portrayed Edgar as a weak and soft individual, she recalled that "he wanted spirit in general" and she referred to him as a "soft thing". Physically and emotionally, he quickly comes under Catherine's spell and is unable to leave the Heights after witnessing a quarrel between Hareton, Nelly and Catherine in which the latter's violent behaviour strikes fear into Edgar, "He possessed the power to depart as much as a cat possess the power to leave a mouse half killed".

Although he becomes the master of the Grange, the local magistrate, the husband of Catherine and in many eyes, the greatest man in the neighbourhood, is generally cowardly when faced with Heathcliff, so much so that Catherine refers to him as a "sucking leveret".

Another feature of Edgar's character is his fear of Catherine's temper, and in the light of this, his willingness to cater to her every whim. Nelly suggests that he had "a deep rooted fear of ruffling her humour". It was this fear that forced him to give in to Catherine's request that Heathcliff be allowed to visit at the Grange. His fear is again evident as he gives in to Catherine's request that two tables be set up in the dining room rather than have Heathcliff eat in the servant's quarters which is what Edgar would have liked. Catherine speaks of his passive love saying "I have such faith in Linton's love that I believe I might kill him and he wouldn't wish to retaliate". Edgar's ultimatum to Catherine to choose between he and Heathcliff "I absolutely require to know which you choose" comes to nothing in the face of Catherine's anger. One of the few occasions on which Edgar proves to be decisive is when he warns Isabella that he will have nothing to do with her if she marries Heathcliff - this is a threat that he maintained till the end. Edgar is naive in believing that Cathy could grow up at the Grange without discovering the existence of the Heights.

Despite this naivety there is much to admire in the character of Edgar Linton. Much of this is associated with his civilised living, gentle nature and pleasant manner. His devotion to Catherine during her illness is an admirable aspect of his character. His love and devotion to her is beyond question. His willingness to take responsibility for young Linton after Isabella's death shows his generous nature particularly as Heathcliff, who he abhors, is the boy's father. He is willing to allow Cathy marry Linton if it would allow her to be consoled after his own death. Her chance of possible happiness is more important to him than Heathcliff gaining control of Linton. Edgar, like Heathcliff, is affected by Catherine's death and looks forward to a reunion with her after his own death, however the intervening 17 years for Edgar are marked by resignation rather than torment as was the case with Heathcliff.

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