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Foil

Character Role Analysis

Edgar Linton to Heathcliff

Heathcliff and Edgar are perfect foils for one another—opposite in just about every way. To use a cliché, they are like night and day: Edgar is blue-eyed, fair, mild-mannered, and tolerant to the point of being a pushover. Heathcliff is dark, overcast, and full of rough edges and seething anger. As Nelly reports,

Doubtless Catherine marked the difference between her friends as one came in, and the other went out. The contrast resembled what you see in exchanging a bleak, hilly, coal country, for a beautiful fertile valley; and his voice and greeting were as opposite as his aspect. (8.53)

The only thing they share is a love for Catherine, and even the nature of their love is sharply contrasted. The fact that they are buried on either side of Catherine really drives the adversarial thing home.