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Conflict is a basic foundation for Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Much of this conflict results from a distinct division of classes and is portrayed through such ways as personal relationships, appearance of characters, and even the setting. The division of classes is based on cultural, economic, and social differences, and it greatly affects the general behavior and actions of each character.
The setting of the story at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange provides a clear example of social contrast. While the Heights is depicted as simply typical and "domestic," the Grange is described as a "scene of unprecedented richness" (80). Each house is associated with behavior fitting the description. For example, when Catherine is taken into the Grange, she experiences drastic changes, thus going from a "savage" to a "lady" (80). While at this house, she rises in status, learns manners, and receives great privileges such as not having to work. Heathcliff, on the other hand, learns to classify himself as a member of the lower class, as he does not possess the qualities of those at the Grange.
The critical essay explains a main point in Wuthering Heights, Catherine's decision to marry Edgar Linton rather than Heathcliff, and this decision widens the gap between social classes. Edgar Linton is a wealthy man of high status, and Heathcliff is poor and possesses no assets. Catherine does not consider personal feelings, but instead, she focuses on her outward appearance to society. "Edgar Linton will be rich and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood whereas if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars (81). It is obvious that wealth justifies social class, and Catherine strives to achieve high status.
The struggle between social classes roughly resembles a real-life conflict during this time. The book was published during the Industrial Revolution, a time of great economic change in which laborers fought for fair conditions in the workplace, and employers fought to defend themselves. People formed groups to work for their own benefit, thus, causing the separation of classes.
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