The Recurrence of Societal Roles Throughout Victorian Literature

Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is a depiction of the intricacies of class structure during the 19th century; an idea had been addressed to some extent in nearly every piece of Victorian literature we had read thus far. The relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff is perhaps one of the strongest ways that Bronte addresses the plights of minority classes, by injecting it into a bleak love story that cross-examines both women and Africans. Heathcliff’s love for Catherine is unattainable because of his social status. William Blakes’s The Chimney Sweeper and The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point are both representative of some of the struggles of African’s during this time. Heathcliff’s specific situation is more complex, being that he went from poor orphan to being raised as an upper-class individual. Following the death of Mr. Earnshaw, Heathcliff is redelegated so a subservient role due to Hindley’s resentment of him. It is Heathcliff’s role that is the reason Catherine’s love for him is equally unattainable. Catherine must shroud her desires for Heathcliff because to be with him would mean subjecting herself to being viewed as lowly, in comparison to being with Edgar who is a much more suitable partner from a societal standpoint. This can be connected to “Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft”, where the conditions of women and the way in which they are subjected to a position where they have to sort of mold to the sensibilities of their husband.

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