About the Book

Book Protagonist: Heathcliff
Publication Date: 1847
Genre: Romance

Character List

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë

There are at least three generations of characters in Emily Brontë’s emotionally absorbing novel, ‘Wuthering Heights,’ and readers might find it a bit sad how most of these characters get to short-live their potential as the plot unfolds.

Several prominent characters in ‘Wuthering Heights’ fall to what seems like a plague of death that sweeps through the generations of characters. From the kind and benevolent Mr. Earnshaw down to his son, Hindley, and daughter, Catherine, among others – all having a taste of it. This article will analyze the important characters in ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë.

Wuthering Heights Characters 


He is the protagonist of the book and the adopted child of Mr. Earnshaw. As a child, Heathcliff is described as cute and likable – and this might be part of the reasons he catches the eyes of his adopter, and later his half-sister, Catherine. However, Heathcliff soon grows into a callous, not wicked, young, mean man – driven by his resolve to exact revenge on Hindley for degrading him, and on Edgar, for taking Catherine away from him.


He is one of the two points of view used to cover the bases of the plots. Lockwood is an out-of-towner who’s interested in renting the Thrushcross Grange, so he travels to Yorkshire to have a formal meeting with the property’s owner, Heathcliff. Lockwood’s experience with both the Grange property and its owner feels rather odd and suspicious, and this prompts his inquiry from Nelly about Heathcliff and ‘Wuthering Heights.’ 

Mr. Earnshaw 

Mr. Earnshaw is a kind and generous character, who adopts and brings homeless, poor Heathcliff into his household, and takes responsibility for him together with two children, Hindley and Catherine. He does all he can to pacify his household, especially with the upheaval that comes with bringing in Heathcliff and Hindley’s inability to accept him. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, great hostility and conflict cut loose in his household, mostly between Hindley and half-brother Heathcliff.

Hindley Earnshaw

Hindley is Mr. Earnshaw’s biological son who, for most of the book, goes into warring with Heathcliff, as he sees him as a huge obstacle to obtaining his full right as an Earnshaw. He never could live above the thought – even when his father talked him over. After his father’s passing, Hindley finally gets the chance to punish Heathcliff, and he does so without remorse and overthinking. 

Catherine Earnshaw

She is the sister to Hindley and the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw. Beautiful and strong-willed, Catherine is the charm of the family. And unlike her brother, Hindley, she loves and is quite fond of Heathcliff from the onset. Further into the book, her feelings for Heathcliff grow stronger and deeper, and even when he is degraded, she still stands with him – up until Edgar comes into the picture. Despite her marriage to Edgar, her heart still longs for Heathcliff whom she turned down much earlier. 

Ellen Dean

Most of the book’s perspectives are drawn from the eyes of this woman. Ellen Dean, or Nelly, knows a great deal about the history of both the Earnshaws and the Lintons. From childhood, she had been ever present as a servant, but much more than that, she’s educated and intelligent as she listens to and counsel Catherine on important decisions. Nelly plays an important role in the life of each of the characters in ‘Wuthering Heights.’

Edgar Linton

He is the son of the Lintons, the first owners of Thrushcross Grange. He is an educated, cultured, charming young man. He comes into the picture sweeping Catherine out of her feet with his clean, cultured manners and advanced lifestyle. He marries Catherine in the end but doesn’t get to oversee full marital bliss, as he constantly has to put up with managing Catherine’s feelings and affection for Heathcliff.

Isabella Linton

Isabella is a sister to Edgar, and like him, she is enlightened and informed. She, her brother, and their Thrushcross Grange are nearly starkly different from those of ‘Wuthering Heights’ and its citizens. She marries Heathcliff, but suffers horrible marital treatments, often thinking about running away. 

Linton Heathcliff

He is the only child and son of Heathcliff and Isabella, born frail and sickly. After he comes of age, his father arranged a marriage between him and Cathy, his cousin and Catherine’s child with Edgar, just so he could control the Thrushcross property. Shortly after being married to Cathy, Linton dies.

Cathy Linton

Just like her mother, Cathy is described as beautiful, stubborn, and a go-getter. She is educated and also quite intelligent. With the rest of her family members passing, Cathy becomes the only legitimate owner of Thrushcross Grange through inheritance, which Heathcliff tries to subvert for himself but forces marriage on Cathy and his son, Linton. 

Hareton Earnshaw

Hareton is the male child of Hindley from his marriage to Frances. For most of the book, Hareton is abandoned and not shown the love that he deserves. His father is too distracted by his issues to have time for him, and after his passing, Heathcliff pounces on the opportunity to degrade him as a payback for what his father did to him (Heathcliff). For this reason, Hareton grows into a shabby and uneducated young man but is hardworking and self-motivated. In the end, after Heathcliff’s passing, he marries Linton’s widow, Cathy, and controls ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Thrushcross Grange. 


Does Heathcliff succeed in his plot to control ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Thrushcross Grange?

He does, but for a short span until his frail son, Linton, dies. 

Why does Nelly know so much about Heathcliff’s history and ‘Wuthering Heights’?

Ellen Dean, or Nelly, had been with Heathcliff from childhood, serving as a servant to the family, but a well-respected one at that as she is trusted with a family secret, history, and inner discussions. 

Do Heathcliff and Catherine ever get united in love?

The two frontal characters of ‘Wuthering Heights’ finally get the chance to be united in love, but before that happens they both die. 

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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