Heathcliff and Edgar Linton
Like ‘moonbeam’ compared to ‘lightning’ or as different as ‘frost’ is to ‘fire’, Heathcliff and Edgar Linton signify the stark contrast between nature and civilisation. When Catherine Earnshaw says to Nelly ‘Heathcliff is more myself than I am’ she is referring to their natures, the natural inclination that they both have. It is this similarity, this natural identity that represents Heathcliff one side of a polarity that opposes nature to civilisation, inhuman to social and the energetic to placid. Edgar Linton of course represents the other side of this conflict and it is the clashes of their natures that build up the tension throughout the novel. From the very beginning of the novel, Emily Bronte makes a clear distinction between the two characters. Even their names tell us something about their opposing morality and characteristic. The name HEATHCLIFF is a combination of two words, ‘Heath’ being the heath that grows among the moors and ‘Cliff’ being the cliffs of the Pennine Mountains that surrounds it. EDGAR LINTON on the other hand, does not literally translate to anything in particular, but it does correspond to civilisation and something of culture.
Since childhood, Edgar Linton has always been within the palms of civilisation. Nurtured by his parents within his own home at Thrushcross Grange, Edgar Linton is a gentleman of a gentry's class... He is graceful, well-mannered, educated and instilled with civilised virtues. Heathcliff on the other hand is probably depicted as even lower than a servant. His gypsy look, wild manners, unknown origins and further depredation by Hindley causes Edgar to be much more superior to Heathcliff and hence more acceptable by society. Emily Bronte has deliberately portrayed each character in such manner to exemplify the fact that in the eyes of society... Civilisation always beats nature. For this reason, Catherine Earnshaw chooses to marry Edgar over Heathcliff because society's views...
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