Pitting nature against civilization, Emily Brontë promotes the Romantic idea that the sublime—the awe-inspiring, almost frightening, beauty of nature—is superior to man-made culture. She makes this point by correlating many of the characters with one side or the other and then squaring them off against each other. For instance, Heathcliff, whose origins are unknown and who roams the moors, is definitely on the nature side, while his rival, the studious Edgar Linton, is in the civilized camp. Other pairings include Hareton Earnshaw vs. Linton Earnshaw; Catherine vs. Isabella; and Hareton vs. Cathy. In all of these cases, Brontë makes one character a bit wild (perhaps by showing them in tune with animals and/or the outdoors and/or their emotions), while portraying the other as somewhat reserved and often prissy or fussy.
But nothing is black and white in Wuthering Heights. Many of the characters exhibit traits from both sides. While Brontë argues that nature is somehow purer, she also lauds civilization, particularly in terms of education. Hareton Earnshaw personifies this combination of nature and civilization: Brontë associates the young orphan with nature (he is a coarse, awkward farm boy) as well as civilization (inspired by his desire for young Cathy, he learns how to read). This mixture of down-to-earth passion and book-centered education make him, arguably, the most sympathetic character in the book.