Essay on Social Classes in Wuthering Heights

Essay on Social Classes in Wuthering Heights

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Social Classes in Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights, a gothic novel written by Emily Bronte in the early
nineteenth century, describes the conflict and the passionate bond
between Catherine Earnshaw and her rough but romantic lover,
Heathcliff. In the beginning of the book, Heathcliff, an orphan is
made a part of the Earnshaw family. This adoption is not readily
accepted by the older brother, Hindley, who sees the new child as a
rival to his claim of dominance in the family. However, Catherine, the
sister is quickly attracted to young Heathcliff, so different from
anyone she had ever known. As the two grow older, Heathcliff finds
himself falling in love with Catherine. Mr. Earnshaw soon dies,
leaving Hindley in charge of the Wuthering Heights manor. Hindley
treats Heathcliff abusively as revenge for taking his spot in the
family. Heathcliff accidentally overhears a conversation between
Catherine and Nelly (the maid) where Catherine says that it would
degrade her to marry Heathcliff. After hearing this, Heathcliff
strives to make himself more acceptable to Catherine by moving up in
the social system. Emily Bronte herself grew up in rural English
society where the classes were rigidly segregated. By making the plot
of her novel the impossible (for those times) love between an orphan
and the daughter of a well to do landowner, she is clearly suggesting
that social classes were not meant to be set in stone - that people
could move about them and in doing so they could create a stronger,
more genuine and honest society. She seems to want to show that love
is possible between the social classes, a love that is enduring and

Bronte takes her argument so far as to appear to show Heathcliff's

... middle of paper ...

...tory ends tragically. He gains the wealth
needed to achieve social standing, but in so doing he destroys himself
and his family, including Catherine's daughter whose own happiness he
disregards. Instead of the love that he wanted so much, he finds that
others now fear him and his anger.

Bronte again is telling the readers a moral lesson, to follow the
heart and one's deepest desires, ignoring what society tells you is
the only 'right' way to lead your life. Only in death can Heathcliff
and Catherine be free again as when they were children, to love one
another no matter what others think of them. She suggests that in
death they have at last freed themselves from society's restrictions,
and can finally be together again, walking along the moors, as they
did when they were children, and ignorant of the unspoken 'rules'
which would keep them apart in life.

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