I have found Isabella Linton to be a very intriguing character within Wuthering Heights as she is pushed aside by Heathcliff and Edgar, for Catherine. At first she starts out as a naïve girl who foolishly becomes trapped in a marriage to Heathcliff, while he is still in love with Catherine. Her marriage to Heathcliff in Chapter 14 manifests as Isabella being deprived of love, living with a mad husband, with no escape. I assumed it would be the end of her, that she would fade into the background as Heathcliff pursued the Catherine drama, and at a later point in the novel, there would be a line stating “and Isabella Linton had died a few years ago,” but Chapter 17 surprised me, for Isabella leaves her husband and moved south to raise her son.
Isabella taking initiative to get herself out of this situation displays strength grown within herself, for she no longer stands as a defenseless naïve woman. She leaves for preservation for her unborn child and herself to remove both of them from the toxicity of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, caused by Heathcliff and Catherine. Is this a courageous act showing the strength of Victorian women? There is no denying that it does take a lot of mental resolve to remove one’s self from an abusive situation. However, the insight into Isabella’s feelings and actions is usually brief, expressed through Nelly, and overshadowed by Heathcliff. While Isabella did not simply fade into the background, she still cannot escape how she impacts Heathcliff. Her actions continued to reflect Heathcliff’s character, whether it be displaying his manipulativeness in taking advantage of her naïvety, his abusiveness in their marriage, or even when she leaves, it’s furthering his isolation because he once had positive connections to Catherine, Edgar, and Isabella, and now each of them have left him in their own ways.