Wuthering Heights was Emily Brontë’s only novel, so we cannot compare the literary devices in this novel to her other writings. However, giving her characters similar names was clearly an intentional and impactful device. In doing this, Brontë shows the complex nature of familial relationships, our tendencies to repeat the mistakes of those who came before us, and the opportunity we all have to make the choice to be different.
Catherine Earnshaw loves Heathcliff, but she marries Edgar Linton because she thinks it is the right thing to do. Heathcliff was adopted by the Earnshaw family and given the name of a deceased son, which represents his place in his new family. He is preferred by their father over his other son, Hindley. Heathcliff and Hindley Earnshaw (Catherine’s brother) have an intense sibling rivalry, leading to much strife within the family. Later, Hindley’s son, Hareton, is raised by Heathcliff. Catherine (Cathy) Linton is Catherine and Edgar’s daughter. Linton Heathcliff is the son of Heathcliff and Edgar Linton’s sister, Isabella, whom Heathcliff married to get revenge on Edgar for marrying Catherine. Heathcliff encourages a romance between Cathy and Linton to advance his revenge on Edgar and Cathy, whom he blames for Catherine’s death. Cathy marries Linton but eventually falls in love with Hareton. She is able to do what her mother could not: do what she wanted with her life and find happiness.