Isabella Linton derives little sympathy from the reader of Wuthering Heights through her selfish behaviour "vain little fool, her negativity towards the lead character, Catherine "If Cathy died, I might begin to live" and her sheer petulance and disregard for the feelings of her brother She even disgraces the name of Linton. I will explore the traits within her personality that create the antipathy from the reader towards Isabella and the events that unfold because of this.
Isabella Lintons incapability to inspire sympathy from the reader is largely due, in my opinion, to her relationship with Heathcliff. Like Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine are, in the readers eyes, the only necessary romantic relationship within Wuthering Heights. Catherines relationship with Heathcliff is angst full, passionate and a rollercoaster of emotions and events like the eternal rocks beneath. Isabella feels like an interloper on this passionate relationship, by removing Heathcliff from Catherines grasp the anticipation of their seemingly impending relationship is severed. Isabella and Heathcliffs relationship is immature, superficial and unremarkable, in comparison Heathcliff and Catherines relationship is multi-faceted, built up over years of conversations, emotions, shared fears, shared joy Nelly, I am Heathcliff, so Isabellas petulant childish behaviour forces the reader to begrudge her even further, and she becomes more of an annoyance than an intriguing component to the novel. Despite the awful way Heathcliff seems to treat Isabella it is impossible to feel sorry for her, as there is a sense of her bringing it on her self. Yes! I love him and you're mad with pain and jealousy with the thought of my marrying him it feels as though she is simply feigning love to inspire jealousy within Catherine, and the reader resents her for this.
The behaviour of Isabella is resonant of that of Lydia, the youngest Bennet child in Austens Pride and Prejudice, an immature, superficial young girl and the complete parallel to her sister Elizabeth, the defiant and kind lead female. In the same way Catherine is like the insubordinate tonic to her sister-in-laws egocentric personality I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own. Without the annoyance the reader feels for Isabella a sense of odium could very easily build between the reader and Catherine, from her decision to marry Edgar, to her selfishness at not eating during pregnancy Catherine is far from a perfect woman and Isabellas immaturity feels like a device to transfer some of the readers negativity to her from Catherine.
Arrogance is a key facet to Isabellas personality. From the moment she meets Heathcliff her desire is to be with him, and she idolises him Yes! I love him. Catherines suggestion that Isabella is being used by Heathcliff to get to Catherine antagonises Isabella He's been using you to be near me. To smile at me behind your back. To try to raise something in my heart instead and almost spurs on her determination to be with Heathcliff, which just highlights Isabellas immature and self-centred personality. In contrast Catherine would have been seen as the mature lead female, at the time of writing, refusing to rise to Heathcliff, accepting the appropriate gentlemen in Edgar Linton. This use of contrast amplifies the idiosyncrasies of the lead females.
Isabellas appearance should historically inspire emotions of innocence, elegance and godliness the brightness of Isabella's yellow hair and the whiteness of her skin, at her dainty elegance, and the fondness all the family exhibit for her. However in the novel, her personality over rides this religious connotation within her appearance and almost creates this anti-Christ character within Isabella. Its as though Bronte is magnifying the imperfections within Isabellas personality by making her physicality so perfect.
I believe Isabella inspires more sympathy from the reader as she grows older. From the beginning of Wuthering Heights Isabella is positioned as the irritating, over-indulged little girl of the narrative and isnt given much opportunity to be seen as anything else. With the entrance of Heathcliff into the storyline the womanly nature of Isabella appears but her most irritating characteristics of immaturity and arrogance have not evolved so the reader is left with a feeling of resentment towards Isabellas inability to grow up, if nothing else. Her selfishness in her relationship with Heathcliff and her ignorance to her sister-in-law and brothers advice follows her usual behaviour of egocentricity Ill to break their hearts by breaking my own. However, as her relationship with Heathcliff develops and his behaviour toward Isabella becomes increasingly despicable and hostile Isabellas self-centred behaviour seems to diminish I recovered from my first desire to be killed by himI'd rather he'd kill himself! He has extinguished my love effectually, and so I'm at my ease, rather than wanting death to come to her, to grab attention even through her own demise, she has realised that Heathcliff needs to leave, she has been destroyed by him and his existence only pains her. At this point in the novel, Isabella comes out of this infantile nature and turns into a somewhat demonic, but much more self-assured young female, almost similar to Catherine at times, and for the first time I felt some sympathy for her.
In conclusion, Isabella, for the majority of the novel fails to inspire sympathy from the reader through her escapades with Heathcliff and her contemptment and arrogance towards the lead female Catherine. However as time develops, age does slowly begin to mature Isabellas behaviour and as her husband, the Byronic figure of Heathcliff becomes increasingly more brutal towards her, Isabella loses the self pitying attitude that seemed to be her main emotion throughout the main stretch of the novel and becomes a women. Through this change the reader inspires more sympathy for Isabella, and she becomes a tolerated, if not liked, lead character.