Wuthering Heights accurately reflects the sharp class divisions of nineteenth century England. Discuss

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Wuthering Heights accurately reflects the sharp class divisions in nineteenth-century English society.

In the Victorian Era, the three main classes in society were the elite class, the middle class, and the working class; however, further divisions existed within these three class distinctions. In addition, social class was not solely dependent upon the amount of money a person had; money, manners, speech, clothing, education, and values also contributed to a person’s position in the social hierarchy.

This is made evident in the novel as when Heathcliff returns to the Grange following his three year absence as a nouveau riche, having money is not enough for Edgar to consider him a part of acceptable society. This is because of Heathcliff’s non-noble birth which is reminiscent of Oliver from Dickens’ novel, ‘Oliver Twist’; a child who could have been of noble birth but because he lived on the streets he was automatically placed at the bottom of society. Unlike the Lintons, Heathcliff was born and abandoned as an orphan on the streets of Liverpool and ‘seeing it starving, and houseless, and as good as dumb’, Mr. Earnshaw brought him home to raise as a son amongst his two legitimate children. As an abandoned orphan, Heathcliff belonged to the lowest station in society. During this time, it was unheard of for a middle class family to raise someone of lower statute in their home therefore; it is the reaction of Mr. Earnshaw’s family on the arrival of Heathcliff upon his arrival into the home that accurately reflects the sharp class divisions and expectations of this time as, ‘Mrs. Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors’ and Cathy and Hindley, ‘entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their rooms’.    

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Despite the fact that the Earnshaws living in a farmhouse and were not the elitist family within the novel (that position is held by the Lintons), they still upheld these societal norms as they were not members of the working class as they possessed numerous servants; thus, their station in society was below the Lintons but not significantly below. When Mr. Earnshaw elevates the status of Heathcliff, eventually favouring him to his own son, this goes against societal norms but Hindley puts this to rights in accordance with the sharp class divisions following the death of his father by returning ...

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