Research

“Social Class” in Jane Eyre vs. Wuthering Heights

In the 18th and 19th centuries, class mobility was not tolerated and not a common thing. However, in both books, we see classes constantly changing as the external factors do too.

  • Heathcliff started as an orphan who was lower than the lowest class. His arrival raised his class but then Hindley making him a servant put him in a lower class again. Finally, when his class changed once again once he became the head of Wuthering Heights.
  • Cathy values class before virtues and therefore she chooses her relationships according to the social class in which they belong.
  • Similar to Wuthering Heights, Jane’s class mobility shows once again that people shape their behaviour based on who they are talking to.
  • In both books, there are people who refuse to let one’s class change their opinion of them. In Jane Eyre, for example, Rochester doesn’t let the fact that Jane is a servant and thus is in a lower class than him affect his opinion of her and still wants to marry her.

Class mobility in both books allows the reader to point out the differences between treatment to those of lower class and that of higher class. The authors use this concept as a way to show that the society at 18th and 19th century is shallow enough to change their behaviour and words depending on who they are talking to.

 

Sources: http://elageorgiastandardsofexcellence.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/8/2/10821737/wutheringheights-litchart.pdf

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