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Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë
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How does chapter 11 of volume 1 of Wuthering Heights reflect attitudes towards Heathcliff and Linton?

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Chapter 11 includes a confrontation between Heathcliff and Edgar when Edgar finds out about Heathcliff's plans to marry Isabella, his sister. What is so interesting about this section is the way that Edgar plans to confront Heathcliff with two of his servants to support him. However, Cathy shuts and locks the door behind him so that he has to face Heathcliff by himself. Note how Edgar responds to having to face Heathcliff alone:

...Mr Edgar was taken with a nervous trembling, and his countenance grew deadly pale. For his life he could not avert that access of emotion--mingled anguish and humiliation overcame him completely. He leant on the back of a chair, and covered his face.

The overwhelming impression or attitude the reader receives therefore of Edgar is one of effeminate weakness, and Cathy herself is quick to note this. When faced with Heathcliff by himself, Edgar is certainly presented as a weak individual lacking in courage and bravery, as indicated by the way that he is overcome by "mingled anguish and humilation." Heathcliff, by contrast, remains brave and forthright, and therefore both are shown to act as foils to each other. Heathcliff's bravery is contrasted with Edgar's cowardice, and Heathcliff's manly bearing is contrasted with Edgar's more effeminate nature. Edgar clearly shows that when he is alone, he is no match for Heathcliff, and Heathcliff is quick to pick up on this contrast when he says to Cathy, "...that is the slavering, shivering thing you preferred to me!"

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