Hindley Earnshaw is one of the most essential characters in the book. His actions are the reason for Heatcliff’s anger and treatment of others. This character is a negative person who is always looking for a profit.
Readers mostly name Heathcliff to be the story’s antagonist. But it is not that simple in reality. The conflict between him and Hindley arises soon after Mr. Earnshaw adopts Heathcliff. The way the father treats a new family member annoys Hindley. It plants a seed of jealousy and disappointment in the young man’s mind. Yet, it will result in the shift of Heathcliff into an evil character.
After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Hindley becomes the house owner, making Heathcliff’s position unreliable. Now being under his brother-in-law’s rule, who treats him as a slave. He is not able to get an education and is under pressure. The power in Hindley’s hands finally lets him bring to life his jealous plan of taking control over Heathcliff. His goals are to create a most profitable situation. And one of such opportunities is his sister’s marriage.
Catherine Earnshaw marries Edgar Linton while being under the constant pressure of her brother. His forced behavior is present throughout the story. And if it was not enough – he succumbs to alcohol and gambling addictions. His actions may be motivated by the loss of his wife. But the continuation of such a lifestyle is not to be understood. One of the most unfortunate sides of Hindley is his potential to be a good person. He is a smart man whose thinking is compromised by jealousy and greed.
The irony of Hindley’s story is that he becomes the reason for his downfall. As Heathcliff comes back a new man, he settles in Wuthering Heights. There he encounters Hindley, who becomes a target of Heathcliff’s revenge. He does so not with rage but with scheming and deception. Heathcliff uses Hindley’s addictions against him, putting Wuthering Heights at the stake of a card game. It is easy to take a person with such baggage as Hindley and think of him as a victim. But his actions speak for themselves.
Hindley is not only a dishonest, troubled, and desperate person. He often demonstrated his ability to harm innocent people physically. Hindley projects discontent with his own life on the people around him. He threatens to break his own son’s neck, drops him in an alcoholic rage. He puts the knife in the servant’s mouth because of his suspicious nature. The problem of domestic violence is brought up repeatedly during the book.
Bronte’s novel is rich with the resemblances between characters. Heathcliff and Hindley similarly carry themselves:
- Could not bear the death of a loved woman;
- Motivated by vengeance;
- Displayed toxic masculinity through the story.
They also are an example of how not letting go of the wounds may influence other people. Carrying negative baggage and dealing with the issues present leads to the growth of anger and discontent.
Hindley Earnshaw is a flawed character who is the real antagonist of the story. His actions leave the characters mentally wounded. His lack of sympathy creates a desperate situation in the family. The hardships Hindley suffers are results of his past actions, proving how every choice has consequences. Earnshaw Jr. is the catalyst for Heathcliff’s anger and portrayal of domestic violence in the Victorian era.