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The Novel expresses social matters such as gender and social class issues. She attributed feminine and masculine qualities without regards to gender. The view of women as beings whose only desires are to engage in fashion and flirtations are offensive to her. Bronte presented Ellen as a lady belonging to a lower class in the society but is more educated than the other characters. We realized then that education and reputation shouldn't be based on where a person belongs in the class system of the society. Wuthering Heights is a social novel and a love story revolving on social classes and how this social system affects the choices made by the society most specifically the women in connection with their decisions on their choice of partners and marriage.
Heathcliff is a nomad of unknown descent and came across Mr. Earnshaw. He was taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Earshaw and raised him together with their children. He developed a deep affection for Catherine, Mr Earnshaw's daughter. Heathcliff left Wuthering Heights when he discovered that Catherine will be marrying Edgar Linton. Heathcliff illustrated a wild character that is threatening for society. His character centered on revenge. He returns to Wuthering Heights to take revenge for the mistreatment he received from Hindley, Mr. Earnshaw's son. The novel revolved around his evil and vengeful acts. Heathcliff is a cunning man in the sense that he used other people for the accomplishment of his vengeance. He married Isabella and made her life desolate. He also took Hindley's property and his son to humiliate him.
Heathcliff's character, despite his evil and vengeful acts, is pitiful. Even with his deep capability to love, he does not know how to forgive. He was consumed by his vengeance which made him the inhumane character that he is throughout the novel.
Hareton is the son of Hindley and Frances. His character is unrefined and cruel, having been isolated from the civilized society by Hindley, however he is also loyal and forgiving to people who hurts him. He does not bear grudge towards Hindley even when Hindley disinherited him.
Heathcliff and Hareton are both crude and cruel. The difference between these two characters is the transformation that happened to Hareton as the novel progresses. Hareton became a gentleman by developing a sense of loyalty and the ability to forgive. He became a loving man when he met and eventually married Cathy. When Hareton progressed to a nobleman, Healthcliff deteriorated to an unethical, unprincipled man.Hareton is the man that Heathcliff should have been if only Heathcliff had not been consumed by his anger and revenge.
Catherine Earnshaw is the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw and Hindley's brother. She is beautiful and selfish. She is regarded as a wild and free spirited girl. Cahterine and Heathcliff grew up and played on the moors together. She wanted to be with Heathcliff but married Edgar instead because Edgar is handsome and rich. Catherine is trapped in the conventions made by the society. She thought that marrying Edgar is the most acceptable thing to do. Edgar offers him all the things that Heathcliff cannot. She loves everything that Edgar provides for her. Even when she is already married to Edgar, she cannot give up her love for Heathcliff.
Cathy is the daughter of Catherine and Edgar. She inherited her mother's charm. Edgar tried to keep his daughter away from Wuthering Heights and all its problems but failed to do so. Cathy met Heathcliff and not long saw Heathcliff's true character. Towards the latter part of the novel, Cathy met Hareton and eventually married him. Catherine and Cathy are both beautiful and charming. Cathy inherited her mother's charm and her free-spirit. They are both independent women capable of making their own decisions. Cathy however is more refined and cultured. She did not inherit her mother's wildness.
Catherine loved two men and was not able to choose between them until she nears her death. Cathy on the other hand, was able to choose between Linton and Hareton. Though She was forced to marry Linton, She had enough strength to eventually leave and marry Hareton. Her mother, Catherine was not able to do this. She was not able to let go of Heathcliff when she married Edgar or left Edgar to be with Heathcliff even though in her heart, she knows that she would always long for Heathcliff. Cathy is loyal, persevering and good-natured unlike Catherine who is self-centered.
The four characters presented are not mirror images of each other. Although they have similarities, their differences are what set them apart. Cathy and Hareton are the personas that Heathcliff and Catherine would have been if they did not make the decisions they made. Cathy and Hareton represented the future that Catherine and Heathcliff would have had.
Wuthering Heights presented the ill effects of social conventions to the society. The characters were trapped in these conventions that they acted and made decisions they wouldn't have made otherwise.
- Emily Bronte. Wuthering Heights. Bantam: New York, 2003.