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Social Class and Gender in the Wuthering Heights Essay

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This essay discusses the affects social class and gender had on the pursuit of happiness in 19th century England. The ideas and values that were accepted back than put limitations on the choices people made. Women and people of lower wealth were often faced with limitations and denial of happiness. In order to consider this topic, this essay will examine the question, how do social class and gender affect the pursuit of happiness in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre? To answer this question, the novel was examined in four different categories.

These aspects were setting, character development, symbolism in spirits, and reliability of the narrators. Each section reflected results that social class and gender had on the path of happiness, and the affects they had on the character. In this I argue that setting and character development cause the limitations social class and gender have, and through symbolism in spirits and reliability we see the affects these had on characters. After comparison and evaluation of these two novels, it was determined that social class and gender were major components in the pursuit of happiness.

Characters struggled with limitations put on women and the struggles lower class had. Both gender and class were very influential factors in the paths people take because the time period and accepted ideas stopped some people from getting what their heart truly desired. Word Count: 231 Introduction The pursuit of happiness is something all people seek out. For some it’s money, friendship, or success. But for most people, they find true happiness with love. Love is the defining factor in the lives of many people. There is nothing that can stop a person from getting what or who they truly love.

But sometimes there may be obstacles in your way. When you live, or lived, in a world with equality issues, dominant social classes, and close mindedness, there may be some restrictions placed upon you. In 19th century England, there was a lot of pressure on wealthy men when it came too marriage. There were certain values that the rich were expected to follow. Things like social class, culture, education and class differences prohibited certain actions. The expectations set amongst people in this time period followed these guidelines.

Family and society expect them to be with certain people because that’s the way things are. The 19th century writings of romantic writers sought to challenge these social norms. The Romantic Movement was a movement the emphasized the subjectivity and individuality of a person. In Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, the struggle between what Catherine wants and what is wanted of her. The question of what is proper and what is expected is a constant struggle for her. In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Jane deals with her situation with Mr.

Rochester and how their difference in class affects their relationships. Jane is a poor orphan while Rochester is a rich man and the love between these two was rare at the time period. The Romantic ideas of challenging social norms were present in both of these novels. The idea of social norms pressuring an individual to making decisions leads to the question, how do social class and gender affect the pursuit of happiness in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre? The two novels are similar in which an independent female lead is changed by the man she falls in love with.

There is so much demanded from them and only so little that they actually want to give in return. It seems simple that they fell in love with someone and must find a way to live with them, but they are constantly pestered with problems society throws at them. Jane and Catherine are similar in that their position in society has stopped them from going with their hearts. Although they are basically on two opposite sides of the class scale, they face very similar issues. While society had expectations set up for the characters to meet, they did not let these limitations stop them from achieving what they desired.

Setting Both novels take place in 19th century England. The setting and timing of the novel is important when understanding the issues faced. It isn’t a time of equality where women are allowed to be equal with men and the poor are allowed to love the rich. Wuthering Heights takes place in the moors, a tract of open uncultivated land, where mansions are separated by miles. Living in this wealthy location provides the conflict for the story. Jane Eyre follows a similar setting. Jane jumps around from place to place but she often finds herself living in a wealthy environment, not often by choice.

The environment the characters live in causes conflict because in each novel, a character is out of place. Heathcliff, whose origins are pretty much unknown, is different from everyone else at Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is a dark skinned orphan and his arrival at Wuthering Heights causes some issues. In addition to social class and gender being a limitation to pursing happiness there was the issue of race that Heathcliff faced. His adoption by Earnshaw places him in the higher class but he’s still out of place because he looks different and wasn’t born into wealth.

In Jane’s case, she’s stuck with living with the Reeds, Jane’s aunt and cousins, where she is treated very badly. This is all because Jane’s mother made a “bad choice” for a husband. Jane says, “How people feel when they are returning home from an absence, long or short, I did not know: I had never experienced the sensation. I had known what it was to come back to Gateshead when a child, after a long walk – to be scolded for looking cold or gloomy; and later, what it was to come back from church to Lowood – to long for a plenteous meal and a good fire, and to be unable to get either.

Neither of these returnings were very pleasant or desirable. ” (C. Bronte, 137) While Jane has lived in various locations, she never truly feels at home anywhere. Jane isn’t really given the option to go and explore the world. She takes what’s given to her and doesn’t achieve the home feeling she wants. Jane’s lack of wealth stops her from exploring and finding this home. However, Jane’s persistence and challenge of societies standards allow her to finally find this home. She says to Rochester, “Thank you, Mr. Rochester, for your great kindness. I am strangely glad to get back again to you; and wherever you are is my home, – my only home.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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Social Class and Gender in the Wuthering Heights Essay. (2017, Dec 04). Retrieved from

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