The Interpellation of Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff into Capitalist Victorian England

One aspect of Wuthering Heights that is deeply interesting is the accruement of wealth and status, and the subsequent disillusionment with these material objects, by both Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff. To wit, the accruement of wealth and status by both Cathy and Heathcliff are cruel and passionless. While the rise of Cathy and Heathcliff’s rise to status is deeply different, they both fell into the praxis of Rural Victorian’s rubric of success (but more so Catherine than Heathcliff). Moreover then, Cathy’s debate with Nelly is the best representation of how the interpellated idea of capitalist success succeeds against primordial and passionate emotions. In that, Cathy’s choice of the safe route is exactly what the system had in mind for her, as the combination of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange is the best outcome of wealth generation. Indeed, this practice of marrying the people who border your land was a well-known tactic in Victorian England to maintain and extend the status quo. The focus then turns to Heathcliff. Indeed, Heathcliff takes the more atypical route to wealth in Victorian England, although, when you think about it his story of pulling himself up by the bootstraps and making something of himself is about as typical as you can get. Yet, his rise is not detailed, and without any evidence, that section of his life cannot be used to prove his interpellation into capitalist society. However, the preceding events (i.e. his overhearing of Catherine’s conversation indicating the success of interpellation) of his life can be. Indeed, once he hears that he must be wealthy to achieve what he wants, he springs fully into the maneuverings of gaining wealth in a capitalist society. Moreover, his subsequent actions show how indebted his into this gain, as he purposefully rends families apart from each other to gain more wealth. This is, of course, thematically done under the auspices of his passion for Cathy, but it can also be read as him learning that gaining wealth is alienating and detrimental when in conjunction and confronted with maintaining and supporting families. The sad part in all of this however is the ultimate failure of entering the capitalist society for both Cathy and Heathcliff as neither of them get their ultimate desire, and both are worse off for letting themselves be interpellated into capitalism (although, one usually does not have the choice to ‘let themselves’ be interpellated).

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