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Wuthering Heights: The Boundaries of Social Class
Transcript of Wuthering Heights: The Boundaries of Social Class
Character Social Classes at the End of the Novel
By: Viktor Agabekov
The Boundaries of a Social Class
Social class and its boundaries are a central theme found in Wuthering Heights. Social status during these times determined everything from marriage to financial situation and occupation. The strict guidelines of class structure broke hearts, halted friendships, brings about marriages without love and affects the physical and emotional well being of every character.
The gothic novel, Wuthering Heights, and social class boundaries
Gloomy, mysterious, and suspenseful
Villain hero that is very passion- driven
Feelings of imprisonment and escape
The setting, Wuthering Heights
The Victorian novel, Wuthering Heights, and social class boundaries
Based on personal experiences
Focused on middle class and common person
Social Classes of Great Britain
Ranking of Social Classes (Top to Bottom)
Peers (Noblemen and Archbishops)
Baronets (held hereditary knighthood, placing them below the Peer group)
Analysis of the Upper Classes
Royalty included members of the royal family and current monarchy, such as the King or Queen, Princes or Princesses. They held significant influence over all remaining social classes due to their crowned government abilities.
Peers included members of the House of Lords, noblemen, court participants, and zealous Archbishops. They possessed large quantities of land, and were able to live solely from their currently held assets.
Baronets were often the kin of knights, and were born into prestige. They often held some sort of office and were influential even to lower members of the gentry.
Knights were prestigious members of the upper gentry who held large land claims and would often serve as law officials due to their association with valor in war. Their descendants often inherited their fortunes and retained similar revered statuses.
The Gentry were the lower upper class members, and held far less land than any social class above them. They were often well-educated, and non-knighted members who owned estates were termed Esquires.
Analysis of the Lower Classes
Yeomen could be juxtaposed to the main middle class of society in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They were often small farmers who had decent land claims, and were able to fend for themselves without resorting to support from larger landowners.
Tradesmen were the lower middle class of the time period. They often had to rent homes and did not own much land.
Cottagers were the common peasant folk and lower class of the time, and had to work for their wages and almost never held any land. They included servants and other laborers, and were the lowest working social class.
Placing the Social Classes into Context
During the time period of the book, Great Britain was already reaping the benefits of the first industrial revolution. This was evidenced by the increase in laborers of the cottager class and early implementation of factory production methods.
Great Britain was simultaneously recovering from its loss of its American Colonies and soldiers in the War of American Revolution. The loss of monetary investment in the colonies triggered a small economic downfall, which was particularly felt by the lower classes.
The Royalty still presided over its subjects during this questionable time, headed by King George III.
Born into cottager class
Limited choices, decisions
Lifestyle depended on others approval of her services
Born into highest class seen in the novel
Maintains this status
Not many boundaries due to higher privileges
Born into a moderately high class
After Hindley's social descent, Hareton is unable to maintain his family's high status, despite his name
Because of Heathcliff's treatment, Hareton can be perceived as inferior.
Ultimately will rise in social class by marrying young Catherine.
Came into Earnshaw family as poor orphan
Left Wuthering Heights; came back in higher social class
As he moved up the social class, Heathcliff was able to expand his social boundaries
Was born to Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw into the lower gentry class
Married Edgar, which moved her up to the upper gentry class
Catherine's boundaries expanded and were limited as she changed social classes
Examples of Social Boundaries in the text
The Lintons allow Catherine to stay at their house but they do not allow Heathcliff to stay.
“He pulled me under the chandelier, and Mrs. Linton placed her spectacles on her nose and raised her hands in horror. The cowardly children crept nearer also, Isabella lisping- ‘Frightful thing! Put him in the cellar, papa.’”
“’Miss Earnshaw? Nonsense!’ cried the dame; ‘Miss Earnshaw scouring the country with a gipsy!’”
Catherine decided to marry Linton instead of Heathcilff.
“Heathcliff . . . shall never know how I love him . . . he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. . . .”
“’Why do you love him, Miss Cathy?’
‘…And 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.’”
Miss Catherine marries Hareton after he learns to read and become a more classy man.
"Hareton and I are friends now..."