The Importance Of Social Class In Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

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The Importance of social Class in Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë 's Wuthering Heights takes its reader into the setting of the early nineteenth century in Victorian England. An important aspect of this time period is that it takes place in the onset of the Industrial Revolution. This was a time of great change for England (Kettle). These changes were not limited to newer technology, but also tried to challenge a previous social class structure. For a long time in England, one 's rank in society was mainly determined on family wealth. As the industrial revolution was on the rise, a new group of wealthy people came into play challenging old tradition. Brontë likely viewed this time as the beginnings of social order change, but it is clear from …show more content…
As Shapiro writes in her essay, "the outset Heathcliff is much like the orphans in other Victorian novels. He is alone, an outcast, as much an "alien" or "interloper" among the Earnshaws." When Mr. Earnshaw first takes him in, he is described as a dark gypsy. During this time to be an orphan meant they you were apart of the under class. This class was the lowest of all classes due to their complete reliance on society (Victorian England...). Although Mr. Earnshaw ends up treating Heathcliff better than his own son, this preferential treatment is never seen as justifiable in the eyes of Hindley. To him all Heathcliff will ever be is an orphan unworthy of his father 's attention. As soon as Mr. Earnshaw dies, Hindley takes revenge by treating Heathcliff as a servant. To be degraded to the level of a servant meant that a person was not only viewed as belonging in the lowest class, but also that they were viewed as inferior beings unable to make decisions on their own (Mezo). This class degradation by Hindley is also seen when he denies Heathcliff education. In this time, lack of education for the lower class was seen as proper due to it being seen as misguided and even dangerous (Mezo). From this standpoint, the effect of a society built on class structure is present. With Heathcliff 's orphan beginnings and his treatment as a servant, Hindley …show more content…
During the Victorian era, marriage was heavily affected by social pressures. It was viewed as being essential in preserving social status (Kettle). If one were to marry below their rank it was looked upon with much shame (Ziegenfuss). This issue can be directly seen in the marriage of Catherine and Edgar. Although Catherine knew all along that Heathcliff was her only true love, she married Edgar because of his social status and wealth. A notable part of this book describes when Catherine spoke to Nelly about her marriage to Edgar. This line is very telling of these social pressures. She says to Nelly that "he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband." (Brontë). Instead of focusing on her love of Edgar, she resorts to complimenting his social status and wealth. Her shame of marrying below her social status comes when she states that it would degrade her to marry Heathcliff. The saddest part about this is that she quickly adds onto this that she loves Heathcliff and that he is more herself than she is. This statement shows exactly what message Brontë wanted to convey about marriage in this time. What Brontë is doing through Catherine 's decision is not only to show just how powerful social pressures were at the time but also to

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