Essay title: The Deleterious Reactions of a Love That Could Never Be
Wuthering Heights was written during a time in which social structure and culture were very important. All people fell into a specific class depending on the reputation and wealth of their family. Catherine was considered to be in a higher class of society than Heathcliff was because she was part of a wealthy family with a large estate while Heathcliff was only a laborer. This large gap between their social status was one determining factor for the success of their love. Due to the economic forces of the era Catherine was motivated to leave Heathcliff for a man of higher status and more power.
Thus causing Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship to never develop into a healthy true love due to their separation. Despite Catherine’s desires for status, her and Heathcliff shared a mutual love that was both childish and obsessive. Their separation proved to be almost unbearable by Heathcliff’s extreme reactions to Catherine’s marriage to Edgar. Due to Catherine’s abandonment he felt he was not worry enough to marry Catherine, therefore, he resulted in disappearing in order to achieve social status and wealth. Their love for one another became more obvious when Heathcliff returned.
However, Heathcliff’s return did more harm than good by stirring up emotions that had not beentouched in either of the characters lives for a long time. Their unbalanced emotions and obsessions for one another caused by their separate social status lead them to torture and death. In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, when this novel took place, the social structure in the British society was very important. At the top of the society was the royalty, followed by the aristocracy. Both these classes held great social positions. Then there were the gentry who owned many servants and large estates, however, held little to no social position. Lastly, was the lower class, which was the majority of the population.
The Earnshaw family, at the Wuthering heights, held a weak gentry’s position compared to the Linton’s at the Grange, who had carriages and a larger estate. Public appearance was an important factor in determining a persons social status. The Heights had no carriages and their public appearance decreased when the Mister and Mistress of the house past away causing their status to be lowered. Catherine’s family was no longer stable in their gentry’s position due to her parents death. Catherine well aware of her family’s decreasing status and her desired to gain as much wealthas she could, to assure that she could be the best woman and enjoy all the pleasures and comforts of the wealthy.
She knew that Heathcliff could not offer her the stability she desired in a gentry position. Catherine admitted, "If Heathcilff and I married, we should be beggars?"(74). Heathcliff had no social status and was not even part of society. He is a representation of nature because he governed his own actions and held no place in the social structure. He was only a servant doing farming labor. Heathcliff had no money or possessions to his name meaning that if Catherine wished to keep her appearance she could not marry him. Understanding that she should merry into a wealthy family she said, "And he will be rich Edgar, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood, I shall be proud of having such a husband.
" (71). Her desires to be wealthy and achieve a higher status persuaded her to marry a wealthy man instead of Heathcliff. To be known as a wealthy and prominent woman she married Edgar Linton. Edgar was considered to be a gentlemen because of his social position. This was also determined by the amount of money he had and how many servants, carriages and land he owned. He lived a very conventional lifestyle with many restrictions. He was civilized and wealthy and offered Catherine all the material gifts she needed.
Due to the high influence on the importance of status and wealth she felt that she was supposed to choose Edgar over Heathcliff. She admitted her emotions to Nelly, "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff."(73). When Heathcliff became aware of Catherine’s motivation to be wealthy and her embarrassment towards him, he was devastated. He felt completely betrayed by his lover and severely lower than her.
Heathcliff realized that because of their social differences they could not be together. Determined to become worthy of her love he disappeared in order to gain a higher social status. Several years later Heathcliff returned a wealthy gentlemen.He had earned his money by trade and now represented the new capitalist ideas from the era.
Heathcliff returns to the story with the intentions of taking over the old conventional ways with the new capitalist views and winning back his lover. He returns to the Wuthering Heights and begins to slowly take over the ways.