Rising in Status

Once again, strong parallels can be formed between the central characters of Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations. In the content of this week’s chapters, this is most notable in Pip and Heathcliff’s rise in social class. Both have similar lowly backgrounds and rise through Victorian societies to positions of greater respect and value. Additionally, both seem to be motivated by both their upbringing, but also an external love, Catherine and Estella. The repetition of this plot device across both novels may give us insights into Victorian class and society.

One of the most crucial parallels between Heathcliff and Pip’s rise is in their purpose. Once again, both looked to better themselves in the eyes of Catherine or Estella. Both made a triumphant return to their hometown, after spending considerable time away to reinvent themselves. And both were disappointed when they returned, as all of their work to better their social standing did not completely award them with everything they looked to gain, much to their surprise.

This last parallel is of great interest to me. Both Bront and Dickens seem to suggest that Victorian society in the eyes of a commoner is a ladder. They believe that by climbing and raising themselves up, they will earn everything they look for, in this case, Catherine or Estella. However, while wealth and position are acquired by both Heathcliff and Pip, neither is able to completely win over their love. They are hyper-focused on rising through Victorian society, believing status alone is how they prove themselves. Still, Estelia and Catherine are not perfect parallels as characters, but the relationships they share with a young Pip and Heathcliff have strong similarities.

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