Wuthering Heights

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Social class and class ambiguity play a substantial role in the novel and create a large proportion of the events that occur. In Emily Bronte’s novel she has given the reader a sense of what the credentials were of belonging to each class and what relations between them were like in nineteenth century England. The story of Wuthering Heights provides us with the idea of class ambiguity through a selection of characters that do not belong to one specific social class and whose status changes throughout the novel, which is contrary to the main idea that in Victorian England a person was born into one social class and usually stayed there for the rest of their lives. The main example of the changing social class in the novel is Heathcliff. Heathcliff was born a poor orphan but his social class improved when he was taken into Earnshaw’s family. However, he is frequently shunned because of his poor roots and his lack of background. He is then degraded by Hindley after Earnshaw’s death when he is forced to become a common labourer but he once again raises his social standing when he returns years later as a wealthy gentleman. His social position is responsible for many of Catherine Earnshaw’s decisions which influence their lives and the lives of those around them and ultimately become their destruction. After Catherine’s stay at Thrushcross Grange during which she experiences a higher class of life, she desires the importance, security and status that comes with that life. This can be seen in her reasons for loving Edgar, one of which is ‘And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband’. Due to Heathchliff’s social status at that time, Cathy would not even consider marrying him: ‘If the wicked man had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now...’ Hareton and Cathy Linton are also characters who are affected by Heathcliff...
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