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The Reader's Guide to Wuthering Heights

Frances

Frances is a woman that Hindley meets while at college, marries and brings back to Wuthering Heights. She is childish and physically weak, and dies soon after giving birth to Hareton.

Morag Hood as Frances
Morag Hood
from the 1970 film
 
Maggie Wilkinson as Frances
Maggie Wilkinson from the 1978 TV drama
Janine Wood as Frances
Janine Wood from the 1992 film
 
Catherine Cheshire as Frances
Catherine Cheshire
from the 1998 TV drama
Sia Berkeley as Frances
Sia Berkeley
from the 2009  TV drama
 
Amy Wren as Frances
Amy Wren
from the
2011 film
 

Vital Data
Parents: unknown; probably not rich or distinguished Siblings: unknown
Date of birth: unknown; probably around 1760 Place of birth: unknown
Married: Hindley Earnshaw probably around 1777 Children: Hareton Earnshaw, born June 1778
Date of death: autumn or winter of 1778, of tuberculosis (aged about 18) Place of death: Wuthering Heights
Physical description: thin and frail; fresh complexion; sparkling eyes
Notes: Frances may well have been a servant at Hindley's college as he does not mention her on any of his visits home. It is likely then that he did not marry her until late during his college stay, probably in early 1777 before he returned for the funeral. She is not a very mature person suggesting that she was not very old. She was presumably younger than Hindley (born no earlier than 1757) and must have been 16 at marriage (born no later than 1761).

Quotes

(1777, aged about 17) … he brought a wife with him. What she was, and where she was born, he never informed us: probably, she had neither money nor name to recommend her, or he would scarcely have kept the union from his father.

(1777, aged about 17) Every object she saw, the moment she crossed the threshold, appeared to delight her; and every circumstance that took place about her … I thought she was half silly, from her behaviour while that went on: she ran into her chamber, and made me come with her, though I should have been dressing the children: and there she sat shivering and clasping her hands, and asking repeatedly ‘Are they gone yet?’ Then she began describing with hysterical emotion the effect it produced on her to see black; and started, and trembled, and, at last, fell a-weeping—and when I asked what was the matter, answered, she didn’t know; but she felt so afraid of dying! I imagined her as little likely to die as myself. She was rather thin, but young, and fresh-complexioned, and her eyes sparkled as bright as diamonds. I did remark, to be sure, that mounting the stairs made her breathe very quick; that the least sudden noise set her all in a quiver, and that she coughed troublesomely sometimes: but I knew nothing of what these symptoms portended, and had no impulse to sympathise with her.

(About 1777, aged about 17) Frances pulled [Heathcliff's] hair heartily, and then went and seated herself on her husband’s knee, and there they were, like two babies, kissing and talking nonsense by the hour …

(1778, aged about 18) But the doctor says missis [Frances] must go: he says she’s been in a consumption these many months. I heard him tell Mr. Hindley: and now she has nothing to keep her, and she'll be dead before winter.

(1778, aged about 18) And besides [Hindley], you should have known better than to choose such a rush of a lass!