Good Evening Everyone,
Throughout the story Wuthering Heights many different ideas and themes are presented to the reader. In fact there are so many that you could fill up volumes discussing each of them in detail. For this discussion I have chosen just one theme to dig a little deeper into. I actually have two themes I would like to discuss for this story, however I will hold off on the second one till next week when everyone has read the entire novel. The first theme I would like to discuss is social status.
In England during the early 19th century there were very distinct lines of social status, which could be broken down into three different segments, which included upper class, middle class, and the lower class. Within Emily Bronte’s work we are able to see the view point of all three classes, and the effects of one being within a certain class. The Earnshaw’s could be described as upper middle class. They had servants, and owned land, however were not very wealthy. They did not have new and nice things, and they only had a few servants in the household. The Linton’s on the other hand were very wealthy. They owned lots of land, had many servants, and had the finest things money could buy.
In chapter seven when Cathy returns from her five week stay at the Grange she comes home a changed woman, and this can be depicted in the clothes she is wearing on her return. “…there lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was obliged to hold up with both hands that she might sail in”(Wuthering, p49). The final class of society depicted within the story is the lower class. The servants, and Heathcliff (prior to his return) are depicted as worthless creatures who are uneducated and dirty.
In the story Cathy loves Heathcliff, and Edgar, but must make a choice on which one to marry. On the night that Edgar proposes to Cathy, she explains her turmoil to Nelly. Nelly asks her the reasons she loves Edgar and she responds;
“Nonsense, I do-that’s sufficient.”
“By no means; you must say why?”
“Well because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.”
“Bad!” was my commentary.
“And because he loves me.”
“Indifferent coming there.”
“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.”(Wuthering, p72-73).
From this small conversation we can see that to Cathy having a well to do husband is something that women in her time strived for. She knew this marriage would cause her social status to rise with in society. Cathy does love Edgar, but it is because of what he has, instead of who he is.
The conversation then changes to Heathcliff, as Cathy loves him as well, and in fact by her description of her feelings for him, it is apparent that she loves Heathcliff more than she loves Edgar, however her response to marrying Heathcliff is;
“I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him...”(Wuthering, p75)
In the end the reason she chooses to marry Edgar instead of Heathcliff is because of his social status. Had Heathcliff been rich and well stationed Cathy would have married him instead. If Cathy had chosen to marry Heathcliff the lives of all the characters in the story would have turned out completely different.