Class Structure in Wuthering Heights
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Table of Contents
In the Victorian Era, social class was not solely dependent upon the amount of money a person had; rather, the source of income, birth, and family connections played a major role in determining one's position in society. And, significantly, most people accepted their place in the hierarchy. In addition to money, manners, speech, clothing, education, and values revealed a person's class. The three main classes were the elite class, the middle class, and the working class. Further divisions existed within these three class distinctions.
The characters in Wuthering Heights demonstrate the nature of this class-structured society. The Lintons were the most elite family in the novel, and Thrushcross Grange was a superior property to Wuthering Heights, yet they were not members of the uppercrust of society; rather, they were the professional middle class.
Although Wuthering Heights was a farmhouse, the Earnshaws were not members of the working class because they were landowners who had servants. Their station in society was below the Lintons but not significantly below. Nelly, a servant of the Earnshaws, represents the lower middle class — those who worked non-manual labor. Servants were superior to manual labourers, which explains the problems created by Heathcliff.
Heathcliff is an orphan; therefore, his station is below everyone else in Wuthering Heights. It was unheard of to raise some...