Social Hierarchy: a Destructive, Manipulative Device

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Emily Bronte's erudite novel, Wuthering Heights, is set between the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century. This era was a time where the British bureaucracy had been a clean-cut, unprinted mandate on how an individual would live and work in his life. Those who commanded British society were the royal members, followed by the nobility. The nobles had been followed by the gentry, otherwise known as the upper-middle class. Members of the gentry were in possession of servants and rather grandiose estates, however unlike the members of the aristocracy, they held no titles; their status was most vulnerable to alteration. For instance, a man may view himself as a gentleman; he believes this supposition due to his polite behavior and articulation. However, to his humiliation, he discovers that his fellow citizens do not view him in the same degree. A man at that time had only been a gentleman according to the number of servants he had, the yards of land he owned, where his money had come from (whether through inheritance, land, or trade), and finally his eloquence. Having only one of these qualifications would do very little in aggrandizing one's status. The Linton and Earnshaw's dependence on such a volatile system served as the driving force for their actions and as the stimulus for the characters' destructive nature. The novel's characters had been deeply influenced and pressured by British society when making crucial decisions that affected them emotionally. The quintessential character who had been manipulated by British society is Catherine Earnshaw who had been deeply in love with Heathcliff. They had frolicked together everyday; she would read to him and educate him in various instances. When she ... ... middle of paper ... ...the Grange itself is more revered than the Heights. The Linton and Earnshaw family's dependence on the erratic British social classification system galvanized the caustic nature of characters in the story and influenced their decisions greatly. Without the existence of such communal prejudices, the Linton family would have condoned the impecunious past of the Earnshaw family and permitted lovers to love who they had been destined to adore. Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, the two instigators of every emotional and physical situation in the story would have been truly happy, leaving them no need to have any injurious intentions for those around them. The precarious importance placed on British social class had been the sole devastating factor in the characters' lives and the stimulus for the cataclysmic nature of personages in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

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