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The Reader's Guide to Wuthering Heights

Hareton Earnshaw

Hareton is Hindley and Frances' only child. Raised as an uneducated farmworker by Heathcliff, he is basically a kind soul beneath the rough exterior although he does not like being slighted. He is one of the few that Heathcliff likes or respects. After initial reluctance, he takes to Cathy's attempts at education to improve himself.

David Wilkinson as Hareton Earnshaw
David Wilkinson from the 1978 TV drama
Jason Riddington as Hareton Earnshaw
Jason Riddington from the 1992 film
Matthew Macfadyen as Hareton Earnshaw
Matthew Macfadyen
from the 1998 TV drama
Andrew Hawley as Hareton Earnshaw
Andrew Hawley from the 2009  TV drama

Vital Data
Parents: Hindley Earnshaw and Frances Siblings: none
Date of birth: June 1778 Place of birth: Wuthering Heights (assumed)
Married: Cathy Linton on 1 January 1803  
Physical description: thick, brown, curled hair; thick whiskers; same eyes as Catherine and Cathy
Notes: Hareton is pronounced as it appears: "Hare–tun" with the stress on the first syllable (see Pronunciations).
One possibility is that the name may have come by altering the surname of the Heaton family who lived in Ponden Hall and were friends with the Brontës.


(1778, birth) [Frances]'s out of her head for joy, it's [Hareton] such a beauty!

(1783, aged 5) That was my first idea on observing an elf-locked, brown-eyed boy setting his ruddy countenance against the bars.

(1784, aged 5) By the fire stood a ruffianly child, strong in limb and dirty in garb, with a look of Catherine in his eyes and about his mouth.

(1797, aged 19) 'It's your father's, isn't it?' said [Cathy], turning to Hareton.

'Nay,' he replied, looking down, and blushing bashfully.

He could not stand a steady gaze from her eyes, though they were just his own.

(1797, aged 19) I [Ellen] could scarcely refrain from smiling at this antipathy to the poor fellow [Hareton]; who was a well-made, athletic youth, good-looking in features, and stout and healthy, but attired in garments befitting his daily occupations of working on the farm and lounging among the moors after rabbits and game. Still, I thought I could detect in his physiognomy a mind owning better qualities than his father ever possessed … Mr. Heathcliff, I believe, had not treated him physically ill; thanks to his fearless nature, which offered no temptation to that course of oppression: he had none of the timid susceptibility that would have given zest to ill-treatment, in Heathcliff's judgement. He appeared to have bent his malevolence on making him a brute: he was never taught to read or write; never rebuked for any bad habit which did not annoy his keeper; never led a single step towards virtue, or guarded by a single precept against vice.

(1800, aged 21) The uncivil little thing [Cathy] stood on tiptoe, and whispered a sentence in Heathcliff's ear. He laughed; Hareton darkened: I perceived he was very sensitive to suspected slights, and had obviously a dim notion of his inferiority.

(1800, aged 21) 'Have you noticed, Catherine, his [Hareton's] frightful Yorkshire pronunciation?'

(1801, aged 23) … his dress and speech were both rude, entirely devoid of the superiority observable in Mr. and Mrs. Heathcliff; his thick brown curls were rough and uncultivated, his whiskers encroached bearishly over his cheeks, and his hands were embrowned like those of a common labourer: still his bearing was free, almost haughty, and he showed none of a domestic’s assiduity in attending on the lady of the house.

(1801, aged 23) Earnshaw blushed crimson when his cousin made this revelation of his private literary accumulations, and stammered an indignant denial of her accusations.

(1802, aged 23) His honest, warm, and intelligent nature shook off rapidly the clouds of ignorance and degradation in which it had been bred; and Catherine's sincere commendations acted as a spur to his industry. His brightening mind brightened his features, and added spirit and nobility to their aspect …

(1802, aged 23) … perhaps you have never remarked that their [Hareton and Cathy's] eyes are precisely similar, and they are those of Catherine Earnshaw … With Hareton the resemblance [to Catherine Earnshaw] is carried farther: it is singular at all times, then it was particularly striking; because his senses were alert, and his mental faculties wakened to unwonted activity.