Author Archives: Sara Devoe

Class in “Reuben”

The class status of Reuben and his family is quite similar to that of Catherine Earnshaw in “Wuthering Heights”. Both families come from upper classes, the females especially in both families are obsessed with presenting the image of being wealthy to others. For example, Adelaide Sachs and her mother. I think this novel is a good representation of class in the Victorian Era in general and how class really meant everything. Females, in order to be taken seriously, had to use their appearance to present themselves, and men had to use education and their job to define their class. The difference in this story is that the family is Jewish, which is not like any other Victorian novel we have read so far. There are differences between this family and that of the Catholic families we’ve read about, most notably that they are a minority.

Wilde and Bronte

After reading Oscar Wilde’s “The Ballad of the Reading Gaol” I couldn’t help but make connections between the narrator and to Cathy Linton. Both the narrator and Cathy are realists when it comes to love–the narrator saying that when you love something to let it go, and Cathy is also a realist when it comes to love, as she is with Hareton. There are many terms in this poem that remind me of “Wuthering Heights” just in general. For instance, there are several lines that talk about a wife in a coffin and this reminds me of Catherine Earnshaw. Yet, Wilde repeats the stanza, “I never saw a man who looked/With such a wistful eye/Upon that little tend of blue/Which prisoners call the sky,/“ and I think this stanza is referring to those such as Catherine and Heathcliff who do not ask any questions and simply believe what they are told.

Jack and Heathcliff

Upon reading the remainder of “Great Expectations”, I couldn’t help but to compare the Jack with Heathcliff. To start, both the Jack and Heathcliff are of a wealthy status and use that high status to their advantage. It is evident in both of them in the way they treat others that they see themselves as superior. I think this notion is well exemplified in chapter 54, when Pip narrates, “in the infinite meaning of his reply and his boundless confidence in his views, the Jack took one of his bloated shoes off, looked into it, knocked a few stones out of it on the kitchen floor, and put it on again. He did this with the air of a Jack who was so right that he could afford to do anything.” This is said in paragraph 50 of chapter 54. I think it perfectly describes how Pip sees the Jack and how the Jack sees himself, which is similar to Heathcliff.

Powerful Women in Great Expectations

After reading the final chapters of “Great Expectations”, I found many connections again between this novel and “Wuthering Heights”. Part of this is I think the time period they were written. Since both novels are from the Victorian Era, they both show signs of inequality, gender roles, and class statuses. My first post on “Great Expectations” was comparing Pip’s older sister to Catharine. After finishing the novel, I can also compare Catharine to Ms.Havisham, and Ms.Havisham to Pip’s older sister. All of these women are extremely confident and powerful in a certain sense. They are powerful in the way they manipulate men and others to get what they want, which is arguable the only way a woman could have any power in the Victorian Era.

Mrs.Joe Gargery and Catherine Earnshaw

As I was writing “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens I noticed that the aggression and reversed gender roles of Pip’s older sister reminded me a lot of Catherine Earnshaw. Like Catherine, she has the ability to assert control over men, and has a certain hardness to her that contests quite extremely with Joe Gargery, similar time Edgar and Catherine’s relationship. Edgar could be described as much more submissive compared to Catherine, and was used for his wealth, similar to Joe. Parenting wise, Pip’s sister is considered selfless for taking Pip in and adopting him as her own, but the way in which she takes care of him is as if he will alwyas owe her, which is probably how Catherine would’ve acted with Cathy if she had not died as soon as Cathy was born. Cathy does though get this sort of treatment by Heathcliff.

Huxley and Carlyle

After reading about Darwin, Chambers, Gosse, and Huxley, I couldn’t help but compare the philosophies of Huxley to those of Thomas Carlyle, specifically his theory of natural supernaturalism. Huxley greatly supports Darwinism and Thomas Malthus’s theory of natural selection, and those coincide with Carlyle’s theory. Both of these theories support the idea of letting nature take its course, and letting all things happen for a reason. If one is supposed to raise their class rank, they will, but those who don’t will not because they do not have the means. A main theme that radiates throughout these theorists is of the resentment of religion and the focus on meaning through science. I find this interesting since they were primarily the first theorists to publish their radical ideas against religion and for science.

“Wuthering Heights” And Thomas Carlyle

I really enjoyed finishing the novel “Wuthering Heights”. I think a few themes I thought about it towards the ending are that revolving around love, wealth, and class. For example, Heathcliff treats Catherine horribly throughout the novel, but once she dies, he becomes of obsessed with her, and even talks to her ghost. Catherine, though, falls for Heraton before she dies even though he is not of the same class as Heathcliff. I found this interesting because Heathcliff feels so much better than everyone else throughout the novel, even though in the end, he doesn’t “get the girl”, but he does get the Grange, and that is much more important to him anyway.

Once the novel turns back to present and we as the reader are reminded of Lockwood being told this story, I began to wonder if Heathcliff felt guilty for the way he acted in his life. I feel as though Heathcliff’s honesty about his story would lead him feel sorrow for the way he treated people. Especially since in the end, although Heathcliff ends up with the grange, he is alone. This idea of thinking about materialism over love and happiness reminds me of the ideals of Thomas Carlyle. Carlyle writes that the obsession with class and wealth leads to the destruction of ones self, and I think this is something Healthcliff realizes as he enters his old age.

Heathcliff as “the few”

Chapters 17-25 of Wuthering Heights dive far into the concepts of class and wealth. There are several instances where a character is making decisions based on their desire for wealth and to increase their class ranking. Heathcliff, for example, wants Cathrine to marry Linton so he will get the Grange when his son dies. He doesn’t actually care about Catherine or his son, he simply wants property. He also does this when he refers to his son as “property” when Nelly and Linton show up to the heights. This obsession that Heathcliff has with class and being of a higher class standing than those around him, as well as judging others based on their class standing reminds me of the poem “The Many and the Few” that we read in class. That poem is a lash against people like Heathcliff that do not help those in lower classes, especially the working class, and are extremely materialistic. The poem even goes more into depth by saying that if those in higher classes (the few) disregard “the many”, the many will revolt. I wonder if Linton will revolt against Heathcliff?

Lockwood vs. William Blake

Upon reading the first two chapters of “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, I think it can be argued that there is a connection between the societal views of Lockwood and how much they may contradict with that of William Blake’s views, especially in the poem “The Chimney Sweeper”. It is clear by the way Lockwood addresses Heathcliff as “a capital flow” and a “dark skinned gypsie” that he feels as though he is above Heathcliff as far as social status goes. Blake in “The Chimney Sweeper” addresses the damages of judging people by class by showing how poor families force even their children to contribute in awful jobs. Lockwood has a very arrogant personality, and he has no concept of others. When Lockwood first enters Wuthering Heights, he notes how the place is probably so dirty because they only have one servant. Lockwood has no concept of the kind of conditions servants are put through in order to make a living, and Blake addresses the dangers of these kind of people in the poem. As long as a guy like Lockwood feels as though servants are eating and breathing, then they should be fine, in Blake’s eyes, even though Blake uses this comparison as irony to show that the working class is struggling.

Connections with Martineau

After reading “Society in America” by Harriet Martineau, I noticed many similarities between her views on government and that of Carlyle’s. Although they stem from different layers, they both have very radical opinions about how government should be modified. For example, Carlyle believes government should always be changing with society, just as clothes do. This a radical idea for the time, since most do not have as strong opinions on government as he did. Carlyle also questioned many abstract concepts such as what the difference is between vanity and success, and Martineau questions abstract concepts too, but related to the role of women.
in “Society in America”, Martineau compares women to slaves in the sense that they have limited rights and are treated as property by men. This was a very radical view at the time of 1837. Martineau challenges the American government by acknowledging the fact that the government has the right to enslave women, even though democracy claims this is not allowed and morally wrong. Martineau argues that democracy fights for equal rights, yet America does not follow this idea themselves, even though it is the idea to which their government is built upon.
The connection I drew between Martineau and Carlyle is that in their literature they are both extremely radical and ahead of their time in their writing. Carlyle argues for a socialist government and Martineau argues for equal rights for women and calls out the American government.