Based on a novel, written by Emily Bronte entitled “Wuthering Heights”, it can be ascertained that indeed, the mistreatment of Heathcliff by both his Master and Catherine epitomizes his struggle to grow with the social latter class system. This is apparently true based on various reasons that can well be referenced from the novel. Heathcliff learns to classify or regard himself as a member of the lower class; he does not have any qualities that can be compared to those possessed by Grange. Despite the fact that Heathcliff was adopted by Mr. Earnshaw, his son Hindley mistreats him by leaving him to stay at their farm, not as one of their own but, rather, as a servant upon the death of his father (Wasowwski).
Healthcliff’s struggle to grow within the social system is depicted when Catherine laughs at him because of his unkempt appearance and despite making efforts to dress well in order to impress Catherine upon the Linton’s visit. He is further humiliated by Hindley who eventually locks him in the attic. It is also apparent from Catherine’s assertion that, despite the fact that he does not love Edgar, he cannot marry Heathcliff despite her love for him because of his lack of education and his low social status. Healthcliff’s struggle in order to grow within the social ladder system is further epitomized when after overhearing Catherine’s plan of using her position and status as Edgar’s wife in order to raise his standing makes his to run away in despair and disappear without a single trace. Six months upon his return and being a wealthy gentleman, Catherine becomes very excited while his husband Edgar is not (Shachar, 2012).
In order to struggle to grow within the social ladder system, Heathcliff took the residence at the Wuthering Heights where he spend his time in gambling with his former Master Hindley and also teaches Hareton very bad habits. In order to pay debts, Hindley, therefore, dissipates his mortgages, farmhouse and wealth to Heathcliff who eventually elopes with Isabella, Edgar’s sister two months later. It was quite interesting that Hindley also died six months later after the death of his wife Catherine and thus making Heathcliff to become the ultimate master at the Wuthering Heights (In Context, 2006).
Heathcliff’s struggle, in order to grow within the social ladder, is reflected when he (Heathcliff) tries to force Cathy and Linton to court and even marry by holding them captive and attempting to prevent Edgar from seeing his daughter before he succumbs to death. Based on Heathcliff’s historical context, it seems apparent that he embodied the anxieties that both the upper class and middle class audience had regarding the working classes. Heathcliff’s struggle to grow within the social class ladder is also epitomized through his mistreatment by both his master and Catherine. It is further depicted through the fact that when he was young, Heathcliff was powerless and was even tyrannized his Master (Hindley Earnshaw). However, Heathcliff later further emerged as a villain when in the future he acquires the power and thus comes back to Wuthering Heights not only having much money but also having various trappings that come with being a gentleman. This, therefore, well corresponds with the “ambivalence” which the upper class individuals felt towards individuals from the lower classes (Guest, 2000).
It can be ascertained from the novel that the upper class people in the novel as for instance Heathcliff’s master and Catherine had some charitable impulses towards people in the lower class. For instance, to Heathcliff when he was miserable. However, they later own feared their prospect when he attempted to escape from his miserable circumstances through acquisition of either social, political, economic or cultural power. Heathcliff’s struggle in order to grow within the social ladder class system also epitomized through his mistreatment by the Master and Catherine in that he enters the novel when he is possessed with nothing not even being assigned a last name or family name and even losses the privileged status upon the death of Mr. Earnshaw. In order to achieve his goals, Heathcliff uses revenge through his plot in which he aims to reunite the two families through using the marriage of Linton, whom is the son and Cathy’s Daughter. The novel further depicts Heathcliff as not only a cruel man but also as a dangerous man who hoped to change his fortunes and social status by hoping that he will revenge on Edgar through by inheriting his estate upon his death (Berg, 1996).
Based on the novel, it can be correctly be ascertained that Heathcliff’s struggle aimed at growing within the social ladder is mainly based on the tumultuous duration of his life which not only affected him but also transformed the rage within him deeper thus made him unable to actually escape his own nature. Having felt pain and rejection in his earlier years in his life, Heathcliff suffered cruel mistreatment at the hands of both Catherine and Hindley and even his mental balance was greatly affected because of being deprived education and friendship. As a result, Heathcliff’s epitomizing in order to struggle and grow within the social ladder class system is formed due to a response to the hardships he encountered during his childhood (Bronte, 2012).
The most implicating and final sense of alienation happened upon Catherine being married to Edgar. According to Heathcliff, he highly considered this as being a form of betrayal for her because Catherine wanted to maintain the social status and existence that prevailed at the Grange home during that time. For instance, Heathcliff asserts that “I have not broken your hear-you have broken itand in breaking it, you have broken mine” (Bronte). However, in order to grow within the social ladder class system, Heathcliff apart from being proud and determined does not indeed cower especially when he is opposed by those people who consider themselves to be so superior. As if that is not enough, Heathcliff upon realization that Catherine had opted to choose wealth, status and even position as opposed to his love disappeared for a good 3 years and later on returns at the farm in the form of a gentleman (Moss, 1997).
Upon his return to the Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff becomes engulfed with a passion of revenging himself on all those individuals who had abused him during his childhood. As a result, he, therefore, ruins or spoils Hindley through encouraging him to indulge in both gambling and excessive drinking. Apart from that, Heathcliff’s revenge is also directed towards Catherine’s husband Edgar Linton who he blamed for having stolen the woman he was supposed to marry from him (Parini, 2002).
Indeed, it can be genuinely asserted that Heathcliff’s struggles aimed at making him grow within the social ladder class system can be well depicted in his vengeful, sullen, impatient and cruel characteristics which still accompanied him up to his adulthood and even now grown to a deeper extent. Indeed, in his endeavour to grow within the social ladder system, it can correctly be ascertained that Heathcliff is in reality a man who is torn between hate and love. This is because since Heathcliff’s depths of passions, he has really hated deeply as much as he loved. It is, therefore, no surprise that upon approaching his death, Heathcliff had no interest for revenge and, therefore, he fell deeply into a very strong spiritually torment (Boxill, 1993).
Based on the novel, it can be truly be asserted that Heathcliff’s endeavours of growing within the social ladder system were faced by different characters. For instance, during his early years, Heathcliff was characterized by his irritability, hot tempers and his fierce attachment towards Catherine coupled with the limit for hatred. However, this was totally different from the “adult Heathcliff” who returned to the Wuthering Height after spending out three years since he was a powerful villain who was not only driven by revenge, but was also distorted through the sense of the wrongs which were done to him during his childhood and which also made his minds become emotionally unstable through Catherine’s marriage. Heathcliff’s struggle to grow within the social ladder system is characterized through coldness by the incapacity of not only loving but also through consuming the passion aimed at revenging against the people who had earlier on abused him when he was a child and because of the connection with the love of his life Catherine For instance, Heathcliff’s anger is clearly portrayed when he asserts that “why did you betray your own heart Cathy? I have not one word of comfortyou deserve this” (Bronte).
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Shachar, Hila. Cultural Afterlives and Screen Adaptations of Classic LiteratureNew York: Palgarve Macmillan, 2012.
In Context. The Brontes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Guest, Stephen. U.C.L Jurisprudence Review. New York: University College London, 2000.
Berg, Maggie. Wuthering Heights: The Writing in the Margin. New York: 1996.
Bronte, Emily, et al. Wuthering Heights-Anne Grey (Illustrated). New York: LCI, 2012.
Moss, Joy, et al. Literature and Its TimeNew York: Gale, 1997.
Bloom, Harold. Healthcliff. New York: Chelsea Hose, 1993.
Boxill, Anthony. V.S Naipaul’s FictionNew York: York Press, 1993.
Parini, Jay. British Writers. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002.