Study Guide

Edgar Linton in Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë

Edgar Linton

(Click the character infographic to download.)

Nice, Polite, Handsome, Rich... Yawn

We're going to take this moment to direct you to an on-the-nose comic by awesome Kate Beaton. Check it out, then come back to us.

Poor Edgar Linton is not the type to be dude-watched by either Charlotte or Emily. He's not passionate, mysterious, or brooding. Or—from Anne's reasonable perspective—he's not an alcoholic or a jerky dirtbag.

Edgar is basically a decent and faithful guy... which for purposes of the story makes him a little boring. He is in essence, appearance, and stature Heathcliff's opposite; with "light hair and a fair skin" (7.41), Edgar is well-dressed, well-behaved, and rich. Living a pampered life down at Thrushcross Grange, Edgar really doesn't have much to worry about. The first time we see him he is weeping over a puppy, which naturally makes him a big ninny in Heathcliff's eyes. Aww.

But, to be fair, Edgar's hardly a saint. For one, his attitude toward Heathcliff is one of extreme superiority.

To Catherine he's a blue-eyed golden boy who represents a chance for social elevation. After all, he's rich, a gentleman, a magistrate, and willing to pamper and adore her. Edgar seems to have a masochistic streak, since he falls incurably in love with Catherine after she acts like a huge brat to the servants and hits him. As Nelly puts it, "he possessed the power to depart as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten" (8. 87). Ouch!

Edgar basically walks on eggshells around Catherine while Heathcliff continues to obsess about her. According to Nelly, Edgar displays "a deep-rooted fear of ruffling her [Catherine's] humour" (10.13). In typical fashion, Catherine comes to resent his patience, seeing him as lily-livered compared to the fiercely passionate Heathcliff.

In the end, Edgar comes across as sympathetic and compassionate, if weak and a little gullible. Disowning his sister, Isabella, for marrying Heathcliff doesn't earn him any points in our eyes, and he seems like a chump for believing Cathy's marriage to Linton Heathcliff could actually work.

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