Men’s Pursuit of Money/Power in Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights

In chapters 20-29 of Great Expectations, readers discover that Miss Havisham once came very close to marrying a man that she loved deeply, but when it came time to marry, her fiance stood her up and stole her money. He had been scheming alongside Miss Havisham’s half-brother who did not have a good relationship with Miss Havisham or their father. Ever since, Miss Havisham has been heartbroken and bound to her house. Her heartbreak explains her strange behavior: her staying inside, eating alone, stopping the clocks, wearing her wedding dress and her obsession with bringing Pip and Estella together. I think this can be paralleled with the actions of certain men in Wuthering Heights. Specifically, I find Miss Havisham’s situation to be similar to Catherine’s situation in Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff, in an effort to gain property and power, decides to manipulate Isabella Linton into marrying him at which point things reach at breaking point at Thrushcross Grange. Linton comes home and demands that Heathcliff leaves and yells at Catherine for engaging with Heathcliff. As a result, Catherine decides to lock herself in her room, practically starve herself and drive herself mad. In both novels, there are men that do whatever it takes to gain money/power and women suffer as a result. Miss Havisham suffers from heartbreak at the hands of her ex-fiance while Catherine suffers from an inner turmoil as a result of her husband and Heathcliff’s abhorrence of each other. I thought that this parallel between the novels was interesting to note because it could be indicative of a shared viewpoint of the two authors. Perhaps the men’s aggressive pursuit of money/power could be evidence of these authors’ condemnation of capitalism. In further research about Dickens I found that while his novels weren’t politically subversive and he wasn’t explicitly anti-capitalism, he was known to expose the ills of Victorian Society in his writing. Bronte was known to have grown up in a non-conformist community and seems to show her outward rejection of Victorian society in multiple ways throughout Wuthering Heights.

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