Category Archives: Character Review

Character Review: Linton Heathcliff

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Some characters are unfortunately fated to die young. As much as the writer or the audience would like see the character live into their golden years,  for some it is not simply meant to be.

In Wuthering Heights, this is the fate of Linton Heathcliff. The son of Isabella Linton and Heathcliff, the reader meets Linton as a young man. Hidden in London by his mother, Linton only returns to Thrushcross Grange (the Linton family estate) after his mother’s death. At first, Linton is safe with his uncle Edgar Linton and his cousin, Catherine. Then Heathcliff hears that his boy is back in the neighborhood and demands that Edgar hand over the boy.

Linton is a sickly young man who sometime comes off as spoiled. He is forced to marry his cousin Catherine by his father and dies soon after. The last victim of the emotional turmoil that stretches over the entire narrative, his death marks a turning point that will finally heal the wounds that have remained open for two generations.

To sum it up: As sad as the death of a character can be, it can also represent change and new opportunities. While Linton’s death is indeed sad, it also closes the door on the past and paves the way for Hareton and Catherine to start a new life elsewhere. As writers, we have to remember that death is more than the physical being dying. It can be representative of change, new opportunities and the closing of the door of what was.

 

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Character Review: Hareton Earnshaw

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When we are children, the only environment we know is our family and our small world. The problem is that sometimes, when we grow up, we don’t grow out of the scars that we receive either consciously or unconsciously from our families and the world of our childhoods.

Hareton Earnshaw is the only child and heir to the Earnshaw name and estate. The problem is his father, Hindley Earnshaw drank and gambled away the family fortune after the death of his wife. After his father passes, Hareton is taken in (if you want to call it that) by Heathcliff to be used as a means of revenge.

As an adult, Hareton is treated as a servant in his ancestral home and treated poorly by Heathcliff. His only solace is his cousin, Catherine Linton, who is as imprisoned by Heathcliff as Hareton is.

To sum it up: The thing that always strikes me about Hareton is that despite the fact that is being degraded day after day by Heathcliff, he has a sense of pride. He takes pride in being an Earnshaw, and is not willing to completely bow to his captor. He is also sees an opportunity when Catherine also imprisoned in Wuthering Heights. She teaches him to read and they eventually get together, healing the wounds of the previous generation. When a character has enough pride and enough sense of self, despite a crappy childhood, to find peace within themselves, readers remember that. If a reader can finish a book, feel satisfied and feel like they have learned something about themselves because of a particular character’s journey, then the writer has done his or her job.

 

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Character Review: Isabella Linton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Not everyone can have their happy ending. Some of us, no matter how much we try, will never be able to walk into the proverbial sunset. In Wuthering Heights, Isabella Healthcliff (nee Linton) is Catherine Linton’s (nee Earnshaw) sister-in-law. When Heathcliff comes back into Catherine’s life a couple of years after she has married Edgar, Isabella develops a crush on Heathcliff. Why shouldn’t she? He is handsome, wealthy and in every sense of the word, eligible. Isabella is single, of age to marry and ready to marry.

The problem is that neither Catherine or Heathcliff have gotten over each other. Isabella becomes a pawn in their relationship. Running away with Heathcliff, they elope and Isabella is cut off from her brother. She will soon learn about the darker side of her husband. When she can no longer live with Heathcliff, she leaves hims and takes their young son, Linton to London.  She dies young,  hoping to leave her son in her brother’s care. But her husband wants his son back.

To sum it up: While we all wish for a happy ending, both on page with our characters and in our lives as human beings, we  may not get that happy ending. Isabella is unfortunately a character whose happy ending is not what she envisioned. But she does one thing that makes her ending stand out: instead of staying with her abusive husband, she leaves him and takes their son with him.

In 19th century Victorian England, this was a brave choice that is a small, but pivotal change in the way happy endings are portrayed. So in a way, Isabella got her happy ending, but it was on her own terms. In that sense, Bronte flipped the standard happy ending narrative on its ear, creating a new happy ending. If a writer is looking to clear up the loose ends of their story with a happy ending, why not change that ending? Flip that happy ending on it’s ear, make the story even more memorable and leave the reader wanting more.

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Character Review: Edgar Linton

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

One of the more common narratives in the romance genre is the love triangle and the question of whom the hero or heroine will choose as their partner.  In Wuthering Heights, the love triangle consists of Catherine Earnshaw at the top of the triangle with Heathcliff and Edgar Linton on the bottom of the triangle.

Edgar Linton is everything Heathcliff is not. He is the son and heir of a respectable landowning family who acts as a gentleman of his class and time is expected to act. His lineage is defined and traceable. His status, income and property mark him as a catch. In modern terms, he is the boy next door that many parents would be thrilled to see their child dating.

Even for all of that, he is not Heathcliff. Even after Catherine has accepted Edgar’s marriage proposal, she admits that the man she loves is not Edgar. While the reader knows that Catherine is marrying Edgar for what could appear to be less than honorable reasons, Edgar will only discover this fact later in the novel.

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Healthcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

To sum it up: For all of his good qualities, Edgar Linton is the loser in the love triangle that is part of the Wuthering Heights narrative. He is the nice guy who may have been in love with the heroine, but she in turn was in love with the bad boy and ultimately chose the bad boy over the nice guy. As a writer, Emily Bronte could have used this very predictable narrative and chose the safe route. Instead she forged her own narrative path and told the story of the conflict between light and dark and how that affects the choices that characters make.

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Character Review: Hindley Earnshaw

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every protagonist needs an antagonist. Whether that antagonist is an internal or external antagonist, he or she is crucial to the development of the protagonist.  In Wuthering Heights, that antagonist is Hindley Earnshaw. Hindley is Catherine’s older brother, his jealousy and anger over Heathcliff creates a lifetime of rage and abuse on his adopted brother. After Mr. Earnshaw dies and Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights, he takes pleasure in reminding Heathcliff of his low status. Hindley also absolves himself of any parental responsibility if his only son, Hareton, after the death of his wife, leaving his child in the path of the vengeful Heathcliff.

To sum it up: Not every character has to be likable or have redeeming qualities. Some characters are just  nasty, rude, don’t give a sh*t, etc. But that’s fine. In creating an irredeemable character like Hindley, Bronte was able perfectly contrast her hero, Heathcliff. While Heathcliff has some goodness in him,  Hindley has none. He is an arrogant angry man who fully takes advantage of his status in society, loses everything in the process and in the end pays for his wicked ways. When it comes to villains, that is how we like it.

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Character Review: Nelly Dean

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In every madhouse, there is usually one sane person. This person is usually the eyes and ears of audience member or the reader and is the only person who can tell the story without prejudice. In Wuthering Heights, that sane person is Nelly Dean. Nelly is the housekeeper/mother figure who tries to keep the peace in the family. Tries is the key word here.

She introduced early in the story when Mr. Lockwood, the tenant at Thrushcross Grange visits Wuthering Heights to introduce himself to Heathcliff, his landlord. Unable to return to Thrushcross Grange because of the weather, Nelly takes pity on Mr. Lockwood and tells him the story of the house and its former occupants.

As much as Nelly tries to keep the peace and the sanity in Wuthering Heights, she can’t. Not for lack of trying, but because the ones who she gives advice to decide to do what they think is best, regardless of her advice. It is Nelly who Cathy goes to after agreeing to marry Edgar, but not sure that marrying him is a good idea. A generation later, Nelly tries to stop Heathcliff from imprisoning Catherine Linton (Cathy’s daughter) and forcing Catherine to marry Linton.

To sum it up: Emily Bronte was one of the greatest writers of the past 200 years for a reason. In creating Nelly Dean, she understood that Nelly not only needed to be the eyes and ears of the audience, but she also needed to be the eye of the storm that is Wuthering Heights. When a writer creates a world and narrative that is out there, he or she needs to have at least one character who is clear and level headed. It is that character who the audience relies on as the steady, reliable voice of sanity. Without that character, the reader of the audience may not be able to latch onto the story and may walk away.

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Character Review: Heathcliff

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is something magical about a romantic leading man. Even in human form, with his imperfections, there is something ideal and dreamy about this kind of character. On the surface, Heathcliff, the male protagonist of Wuthering Heights seems like the romantic leading who sweeps not just the female protagonist off her feet, but the readers as well. The important word in that sentence is seems.

Heathcliff’s origins are unknown. He is an orphan found on the streets by Mr. Earnshaw and taken back to Wuthering Heights. Raised within the family, Heathcliff’s soulmate is Catherine, Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter. His nemesis is Catherine’s older brother, Hindley.  After Mr. Earnshaw dies and Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is cast out of his comfortable life and forced into servitude.  His bitterness and anger are kept at bay because Catherine is around.

Heathcliff’s bitterness and anger starts to grow exponentially when Catherine gets engaged to Edgar Linton, the son of a wealthy and respectable family. Vowing to get revenge, but still deeply in love with Catherine, Heathcliff comes back a few years later with a tidy fortune and ready to get back at those who he believed wronged him. But along the way of getting his revenge, Heathcliff leaves a few victims in his wake: his wife, Isabella Heathcliff (nee Linton), and the next generation of Lintons, Earnshaws and Heathcliffs. But in the end, it is his pure and abiding love for Catherine that prevents the darkness from completely swallowing him.

To sum it up: the idea of Prince Charming is nice, but Prince Charming is boring. It’s been done to death. Readers remember Heathcliff because while he is a dark character whose actions and morals are questionable (especially in the second half of the book), he loves Catherine. He loves her so much that after she dies, he begs her spirit to stay with him. He keeps going back to her after she has married, knowing full well that she is married and not caring a fig for her marriage. Sometimes the key to a writer’s success is to take a standard character, add in a few out of left field characteristics, flip the character on its head and see what happens. It is the joy of writing and the joy of reading to discover a character who has been seen before, but is also totally new and different that he or she is unforgettable.

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Character Review: Catherine Earnshaw

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The best love stories always have an obstacle to the potential happiness of the couple. The best stories sometimes have a character who is standing in the way of their own happiness. This, in a nutshell is Catherine Earnshaw, the heroine of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

Catherine is the daughter of the local gentry. We first meet Catherine when her father brings home Heathcliff, her adopted brother/soulmate. Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together, joined at the hip until they reach early adulthood. Then reality sets in. Mr. Earnshaw dies and Catherine’s older brother, Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights. Hindley was never fond of Heathcliff when they were boys. Without anyone to stand in his way, Hindley openly and maliciously abuses Heathcliff.

While this is happening, the audience and Catherine are introduced to the brother and sister duo of Edgar and Isabella Linton. While it is obvious that there is a strong connection between Catherine and Heathcliff, there is also the pressure of the world of Victorian era England. It would be a disgrace for Catherine to marry Heathcliff, despite their deep love. Heathcliff has no money, no social standing and his origins are unknown. In short, it would cause quite the scandal if the lovers were to marry.

“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

After Catherine marries Edgar and Heathcliff disappears, she appears for a time, to have put aside the wild child sensibility and become a proper lady. But when Heathcliff returns as a wealthy man and starts to not court Isabella, Catherine becomes jealous. Pitting her husband and her soulmate against one another, she becomes ill and dies just moments after her daughter in born.

To sum it up: There are always obstacles, whether on the page or in life. We have two choices, we can find a way to overcome the obstacles or we can take the easy way out.  Catherine unfortunately, takes the easy way out and pays for her choices. As writers, we don’t always have to lead our characters down the right path. Sometimes, we lead our characters go down the wrong path and let them pay for their choices.

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Character Review: Finn

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Sometimes a new character is introduced in the middle of a story. They may not have been intrinsic to the narrative initially, but they become as important as the characters who were introduced in the beginning of the story.

Finn (Lara Cox) was introduced to the audience about halfway through the third season. When the Challenger Expedition travels (minus Malone, Veronica and Summerlee) through time, they land in on the plateau that they don’t recognize. Finn is living on a post-apocalyptic plateau where she is one of the few survivors. Smart, sarcastic, a little blunt and independent, Finn is a 21st century woman who returns to the 19th century plateau with the Challenger Expedition. Unfortunately, The Lost World was cancelled at the end of the 3rd season, leaving Finn as a character whose development and narrative was stopped before she could grow beyond the audience’s initial impression.

To sum it up: A character’s development and narrative is not strictly based upon when we meet them. Even if a character is introduced to the audience halfway through the story, the writer can still fully develop them to catch the audience’s attention and draw them in.

 

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Character Review: Arthur Summerlee

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In every life and every story, there are two perspectives: youth and old age. In The Lost World, the perspective on old age is represented Arthur Summerlee (Michael Sinelnikoff). Summerlee is not only the ying to Challenger’s yang, but he is also the peacemaker and the unofficial father figure to the younger members of the expedition. It was Summerlee who egged Challenger on during the pilot about his findings and it was Challenger, who in turn challenged (for lack of a better term) Summerlee to join him on the expedition.

Where Challenger is hotheaded, brash and sometimes full of it, Summerlee is calm, cool and collected (at least most of the time).  Summerlee is also the first member of the expedition to see past the hard shell of Marguerite to see a woman who is complicated and has had to make difficult decisions to survive. When he was killed off (or appeared to be killed off), an emotional void was left among the characters that could never truly be filled.

Despite all of that, Summerlee had his faults. He too, was prone to having a big head. His greatest regret was walking away from his wife as she lay dying, without so much as a goodbye.

To sum it up: The perspective that one can see from having lived a great many years is sometimes hard to see, but it is a perspective that deserves to be explored. We live in a culture that celebrates the young and the youthful. But we sometimes forget that those of a certain age deserve our respect and attention, especially in fiction. Summerlee represents both the wisdom and regret that comes with reaching the stage in our lives when we are no longer young. When we as writers speak of creating well-rounded characters, we should be speaking of older characters whose contributions, wisdom and advise should be paid attention to.  We never know when this character will teach both the reader and the writer a thing or two.

 

 

 

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