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In chapters 1-4, Isabella Linton and Linton Heathcliff have not been introduced as characters in the story, only mentioned by Nelly in order to clarify the relationship between the Earnshaws and the Lintons. Nelly mentions Linton when she states that Cathy Linton's "husband was her cousin" (Bronte 37), and also mentions Isabella Linton when she states that "Heathcliff married Mr. Linton's sister" (Bronte 37).
Joy Morgan Myers
During chapters 5-8, Emily Bronte introduces the character of Isabella Linton minimally. Isabella and her older brother live in Thrushcross Grange with a very polished, wealthy, and happy family. Isabella embodies the typical proper young lady of those times. However, when Heathcliff and Catherine venture over to this estate, they catch Isabella and Edgar in a frivolous dispute. After the two Lintons fought over a small dog, Catherine and Heathcliff find Isabella "screaming" and "shrieking" (Bronte 50) because she did not get her way. This suggests that although her life seems happy and fufilling, she does not truly appreciate all that has been given to her. Isabella seems also snippy and bossy, telling her father to put Heathcliff "in the cellar" (Bronte 52) when they catch him sneaking around Thrushcross Grange with Catherine. Other than these two instances, Isabella Linton's appearances have been fleeting and sparse. Linton Heathcliff has not been introduced yet and has not been mentioned since chapers 1-4.
"The cowardly children crept nearer also, Isabella lisping -- "Frightful thing! Put him in the cellar, papa. He's exactly like the son of the fortune-teller that stole my tame pheasant. Isn't he, Edgar?"" (Bronte 52)This quote exemplifies Isabella's bossiness, as she orders her father around without a second thought.
"Isabella [...] lay screaming at the farther end of the room, shrieking as if witches were running red-hot needles into her." (Bronte 50) This instance displays how Isabella is spoiled and does not appreciate all that her family gives her at Thrushcross Grange. She is always wanting more than she has already been given.
""Isabella has not her natural advantages"" (Bronte 54) This reply from Frances about Catherine Earnshaw tells the reader that although Isabella is not as beautiful as Catherine Earnshaw, she was raised better and has acquired more manners.
Joy Morgan Myers
Throughout the course of chapters 9-12, Bronte indroduces many more aspects of Isabella's personality to the readers. Bronte conveys the idea that people in the Linton family "exhibit" a certain "fondness" (Bronte 104) for Isabella. Catherine claims she is not "envious" (Bronte 104) of Isabella in this aspect, although she quickly becomes malicious once she discovers Isabella possesses a "sudden and irresistible attraction" (Bronte 107) to Heathcliff. Isabella's affections for Heathcliff spark Catherine's protective side, leading her to call Heathcliff an "unreclaimed creature" and a "wolfish man" (Bronte 109) in order to make Isabella not fancy him. Once Isabella declares her love for Heathcliff, the reader starts to compare her and Catherine, creating an interesting contrast in their personalities. Isabella's admiration for Heathcliff can be seen as trying to compete with Catherine, who also loves Heathcliff. In the end, Isabella runs away with Heathcliff, leaving her home and family behind. Edgar is heartbroken, showing how much he loved Isabella. Isabella divides the Linton family between those who like Heathcliff and those who don't, putting herself opposite from her brother in terms of this conflict. In Isabella's attempt to compete with Catherine, she betrays her brother and because of this he declares her only his "sister in name" (Bronte 143).
Joy Morgan Myers
Six weeks after Isabella and Heathcliff elope, she sents Edgar a short letter informing him that her and Heathcliff are married and that she is sorry for hurting him. Two weeks after this, Nelly receives a detailed letter from Isabella about her stay at Wuthering Heights. Isabella immediately wishes to be back at Thrushcross Grange upon her arrival at Wuthering Heights. This detail in her letter shows the characters' natural inclinations to return to their childhood home once they have left it. Isabella wonders to Nelly if Heathcliff is "man" or "devil" (Bronte 146), exposing the fact that Heathcliff has acted cruelly towards her. Isabella wishes that the "absence" of "external comforts" (Bronte 147) was the "total" of her "miseries" (Bronte 147), hinting once again at Heathcliff's cruelty. Once Nelly visits Wuthering Heights to talk to Isabella, the physical toll of living with a malicious man such as Heathcliff becomes clear. A "spirit of neglect" "encompassed" (Bronte 157) Isabella, leaving her formerly beautiful face "wan" and "listless" and her golden, shiny hair "uncurled" and "carelessly twisted around her head" (Bronte 158). Even though her condition has worsened visibly since she has been living at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff takes no notice and only talks to Nelly about Catherine's condition. He does confess, however, that he has performed "experiments on what she could endure" while keeping "within the limits of the law" (Bronte 162). Isabella receives the physical toll of Heathcliff's anger towards not only her brother, Edgar, but also Catherine for not marrying him. Heathcliff tells Isabella that he has "accused" Edgar of causing Catherine to be sick and so Isabella will be his "proxy in suffering" (Bronte 156). He not only uses her in order to get his revenge on Catherine but also as a way to get his inward anger out.
"Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?" (Bronte 146) This quote shows that Heathcliff has mistreated Isabella to the point where she wonders if he is even human. It also shows how mistaken she was about the kind of man Heathcliff is.
"But she already partook of the pervading spirit of neglect which encompassed her. Her pretty face was wan and listless; her hair uncurled: some locks hanging lankly down, and some carelessly twisted round her head." (Bronte 158) This quote shows that although Isabella has only lived with Heathcliff for two months, the conditions and treatment at Wuthering Heights have taken a toll on her.
In the beginning of chapter 17, Isabella Linton arrives back at Thrushcross Grange almost mad with giddiness. Exhausted and "dripping with snow" (Bronte 184), she recounts the recent events of Wuthering Heights. Before telling it however, she "slipped" her engagement ring off of her finger and "threw" (Bronte 185) it on the floor angrily. This exhibits how a place like Wuthering Heights breeds passion and hatred, and Isabella was not only a recipient of Heathcliff's hatred, she also learned to hate while staying there. Her change in temperament shows how the different settings throughout the book influence the characters that stay in them. She tells Nelly that while she was at Wuthering Heights, Hindley schemed to kill Heathcliff. He justifies this with her by telling her that both of them "have a great debt to settle" (Bronte 189) with Heathcliff. This reasoning in his mind shows how many characters throughout this book believe that plotting revenge on somene is the only way to truly justify their wrongdoings. Isabella, however, disagrees by saying that "treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies" (Bronte 189). This conversation shows how Bronte uses Isabella to convey her belief that justification through revenge hurts more people than it helps. Once Isabella finishes her story, she leaves for London, where she lives until her death. A few months after she leaves, she has a son named Linton. Isabella dies when Linton is twelve.
Linton Heathcliff also appears in these chapters for the first time. He is described as a "pale, delicate, effeminate boy" (Bronte 215) who takes after his mother much more than his father. He is instantly welcomed at Thrushcross Grange, where Cathy begins "stroking his curls", "kissing his cheek", and treating him "like a baby" (Bronte 216). His happiness doesn't last long, however, because Joseph comes and informs the Lintons that Linton must go stay with his father, Heathcliff. Linton doesn't seem to be much like either of his parents; he doesn't have his mother's "sparkling spirit" or his father's "black hair and eyes" (Bronte 222). When he arrives at Wuthering Heights, his father informs him that he is "bitterly dissapointed" (Bronte 225) with him, foreshadowing that Heathcliff will not care for Linton in the future. Linton seems to have inherited his mother's snappiness, shown when he refuses a meal Joseph offers him at Wuthering Heights. He automatically dislikes Wuthering Heights, which shows yet another example of how the mood shifts from setting to setting.
Joy Morgan Myers
In the beginning of chapter 21, Nelly keeps up with Linton through the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights. She informs her that Heathcliff hates Linton "ever longer and worse" (Bronte 228), hinting at how Heathcliff abuses Linton now. A couple years later, Cathy and Linton reunite. Linton "had grown tall" and "pretty" (Bronte 233), but with "very languid" (Bronte 233) movements. However, Linton had also grown mean, calling Hareton "an idiot" and accusing him of "laziness" (Bronte 239). His actions toward Hareton show that just as Hindley passed on his mean nature to Heathcliff, Linton also has picked up this personality. Linton falls head over heels for Cathy, leading to their secret letter writing and visits. Even though he loves Cathy, he manipulates her, telling he that she "hurt" him so much that he "shall lie awake all night choking with this cought" (Bronte 260). He inherits his ability to manipulate from his father, showing how many traits are passed down from generation to generation at the houses of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. His physical and mental state has deteriorated since he has lived at Wuthering Heights, showing how Bronte uses the settings to influence the well-being of the characters.
In chapter 25, Edgar Linton's health begins to seriously fail, so he writes to Linton at Thrushcross Grange and asks to see him. Nelly knows, however, that Heathcliff monitors what Linton writes in his letters to Thrushcross Grange. Edgar agrees to let Cathy meet Linton on the moors as long as Nelly accompanies them. Once they meet, both Cathy and Nelly realize that an "indefinite alteration had come over" Linton since they had last seen him. Linton fills the area with a certain "moroseness" (Bronte 282), leaving Cathy dissapointed with him once again. Linton unintentionally hints at Heathcliff's abuse, pleading with Cathy to no "provoke him against" him because Heathcliff "is very hard" (Bronte 283). This fear shows that although Linton is Heathcliff's son, Heathcliff does not care for him whatsoever. Heathcliff just views Linton as a pawn in his own games to get revenge. Because Heathcliff treats Linton so badly, his self image becomes extremely negative. He calls himself a "worthless, cowardly wretch" (Bronte 288). On Cathy's second visit with Linton, Heathcliff uses Linton in order to lure Cathy and Nelly into Wuthering Heights. He threatens Linton, and since Linton only worries about himself, he obliges. Heathcliff forces Cathy to stay there so that she can marry Linton and therefore ensure that Heathcliff will someday own Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff uses Linton to get what he wants, completely disregarding the emotional effect this will have on the boy. Because of Heathcliff's neglect, Linton bceomes selfish, mean, and fearful. Cathy and Linton are married, and Cathy escapes to Thrushcross Grange in time for Edgar Linton's death. Linton assists in helping Cathy escape, showing he still possesses some love for her in his heart.
Heathcliff goes to get Cathy, and blames her for how Linton helped her get away from Wuthering Heights. He calls Linton a "cobweb" and says that "a pinch would annihilate him" (Bronte 310). He tells Cathy that Linton "has already received his due" (Bronte 310) for assisting her. Cathy comes to Wuthering Heights and immediately goes to Linton's room. One night she comes down and informs Zillah that Heathcliff's "son is dying" (Bronte 317). That night Linton dies, leaving Cathy under the complete control of Heathcliff. Heathcliff once again manipulates Linton, forcing his son to leave all of his (really Cathy's) "moveable property" (Bronte 319) to him, including Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff used up all that Linton could possibly give him, abusing, neglecting, and using him until his days were over. Heathcliff never desired a relationship with Linton, he only desired how Linton could be used in his revenge. Heathcliff uses both Isabella and her son in order to exact revenge on the Lintons and Thrushcross Grange. He sucks the life out of both of them, causing Isabella to flee and Linton to die.
Isabella and Linton did not appear in these chapters because both of these characters died.