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foil essay on Wuthering Heights

kelseyyes 3 / 5  
Nov 29, 2008   #1
Standing in front of a mirror, Edgar Linton sees someone staring back at him that is not himself. He walks closer and puts his hand to the glass. Instead of seeing his angelic features, he sees a man that appears to be the human embodiment of the devil. The man staring back at him is Heathcliff. In the novel, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, Heathcliff and Edgar Linton are foils of each other. These characters contrast each other marvelously. These two characters could not be more different from each other; from their looks, to their actions, to their social standing, their love for Catherine, and even their treatment of the children in the novel. Their looks are the first characteristics to set them apart.

Many times an author will describe a character to reflect upon his or her personality. This reigns true in Wuthering Heights. Edgar Linton is an extremely handsome man. He is fair skinned and light haired with blue eyes. He is rather effeminate and delicate. Edgar's appearance gives the reader the feeling that he is a good character. However, in stark contrast is Heathcliff, with whom Edgar is the foil of. Heathcliff is a dark and imposing character. With dark eyes, tanned skin, and obsidian black hair, his visage is extremely rough and wild looking. Heathcliff's appearance causes him to be perceived as an evil character, which, in fact, he turns out to be. Heathcliff and Edgar could not be further from each other in appearance. Not only are these characters different in their appearance, they are also diverse in their actions.

Appearances may be able to give first impressions of a character, but his actions are what cement his nature. Heathcliff and Edgar were different from each other even as children. Heathcliff was an independent young boy and was rather rough in his daily activities. Although this boy was independent, he spent copious amounts of time with Catherine. Due to the fact that he always put Catherine first, even before himself, he could be considered extremely selfless as a boy. Edgar, on the other hand, was a pouty young child. Unlike Heathcliff, Edgar was considerably selfish and even hurt a puppy when fighting over it with his sister. As a child Edgar would also cry a great deal. As these two characters matured, their actions and personalities altered. Heathcliff became selfish and vengeful for all the mistreatments that he had received in his childhood. He treated everyone with cruelty and spite. Although he changed, he still remained rough and crude as he had been in his childhood. His foil, Edgar, on the other hand, changed for the better. Edgar grew up and was no longer the selfish whiny child he had been. He was civilized and treated people fairly. Edgar tried to keep everyone happy, although he became a coward, which was shown when Heathcliff proposed a fight between the two enemies. Heathcliff and Edgar also differ in their social standings.

Heathcliff and Edgar both come from very different family backgrounds, which accounts for how the events in the novel played out the way they did. Edgar is a gentleman. He was raised to be a gentleman from a family of high social standing. He has impeccable manners and is well-liked by almost everyone, which is why Catherine chooses to marry him over her love, Heathcliff. Heathcliff was an orphan, brought home by Mr. Earnshaw from one of his travels away from home. Heathcliff was treated as a servant by Mr. Earnshaw's son, Hindley. Later in his life, Heathcliff becomes rich, but it is through questionable means that he attains his wealth. Heatchliff, unlike Edgar, is not well-liked and generally hated by almost everyone that he meets throughout the novel. Despite their differences, these two men both fall for the same woman, Catherine Earnshaw.

Although both men fall for the lovely Catherine, even the ways that they love her are different. Heathcliff has an obsessive love with Catherine. He is fiercely passionate about her and his ardent love is returned by her. When Catherine dies, Heathcliff goes insane. He goes as far as to call to her spirit to return to Earth to haunt him for the rest of his life. Edgar, on the other hand, has a more natural and demure love for Catherine. Sadly, she only marries him for his social standing, not for love. When Catherine dies, Edgar mourns her, and he proceeds to mourn her on the anniversary of her death every year, but he does not go as far as to torment himself with her spirit. Catherine died, in part, due to child birth. The child Catherine and her lover Linton, were treated differently by the two foils.

Edgar loved young Catherine, as she was his only child. He treated her as a princess and spent much time with her. Edgar also tried to aide Linton, his nephew, after his mother died. However, Heathcliff found out that Linton was being helped at Thrushcross Grange and took custody of him. Edgar, when he found out about the love between young Catherine and Linton, feared a union between the two youths. He knew that Linton was sickly, and he didn't want Heathcliff to be able to take possession of Catherine's property. Heathcliff, in contrast to Edgar, despised both Catherine and Linton. He despised young Catherine, blaming her for his Catherine's death, and found further abhorrence in young Catherine's familiar and haunting eyes. Young Catherine and his son Linton's resemblance to Heathcliff's sworn enemy, Edgar, only fueled his rage for the two young lovers. Heathcliff, however, desired a marriage between the young lovers. This was not because he wanted to see them happy, but because of the prospect of taking young Catherine's property from her when Linton died.

In final consideration, Heathcliff and Edgar create stark contrasts in the novel. Both of these men, with their love for Catherine Earnshaw, sustain the novel's plot. These characters could not be more different from each other. Their looks, actions, social standing, love for Catherine, and treatment of young Catherine and Linton, set them worlds apart.

On the other side of the mirror, Heathcliff stares maliciously at the man he knows is Edgar Linton. The man that is so different from him, the man that he hates is so close and yet so far. Heathcliff reaches out to touch the glass but instead feels the soft warmness of skin. His hand clenches around the other mans fingers and he pulls him into his side of the mirror. The two men stare in disbelief at each other, noticing their differences and wondering what to do next.

EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Nov 30, 2008   #2
Wow, this is really well written. At this point, the only advice I would give would be to ensure that it meets the requirements of the assignment. Does it meet the grading criteria? Perhaps a quote or two would help bring it to life. Great essay, though, and I saw no errors.
OP kelseyyes 3 / 5  
Nov 30, 2008   #3
Thanks. My teacher actually didn't want us to use quotes because we are trying to write essays as close to the format we would be using during the ap exam which we won't be able to use the books to take quotes from. I know, I was dying to put a quote in. Thanks again.
shrooms 1 / 3  
Dec 7, 2008   #4
wow kid wow.

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