Wuthering Heights: Social Hierarchy By: Ryan Kaneshiro, Chad Wakabayashi, and Tobey Young

Introduction: In society today, a person's social standing suggests very little beyond your income. In English society back then, social class had much more meaning than that. Where you stood on the social ladder indicated not only wealth, but also your rights as a human (what can or can’t be said, who you may or may not talk to). Social class back then was more than the amount of money you owned. It was upkeeping an image by owning things, people, and acting the part. Throughout the book we can see the volatility of social status in every character.

Heathcliff - Throughout the story, he fluctuates along the social ladder. He was born an orphan, and although he became Mr. Earnshaw's favorite son, he was still seen as a charity project and an outsider. His limited social status kept his soulmate, Catherine, from wanting to marry him. He later returns wealthy, but is still not seen as upper-class, because of his past and his unsophisticated mannerisms.
Catherine - She is raised in the gentry (upper middle class). She is seen as higher class because of her father's reputation. Her affiliation with the Lintons, receiving elegance training from Mrs. Linton and eventually marrying Edgar, bolstered her status even further. She married Edgar instead of Heathcliff, the one whom she truly loved, because she chose her social status over Heathcliff.
Hindley - Like Catherine, he is raised in the gentry and retains his father's reputation, being the next of kin to Mr. Earnshaw. Despite the wealth, his notorious drunkenness and gambling lowered his status immensely. Losing everything to Heathcliff was the nail in the coffin for Hindley. He died in poverty.
The Lintons - Like the Earnshaws, the Lintons are also part of the gentry. Although, the Lintons put in much more effort to bolster their status, owning a carriage, spoiling their children. Well-mannered Edgar and Isabella maintain their high status throughout the story.
Nelly Dean - Born and raised a servant, Nelly is Catherine's caretaker and best-friend (besides Heathcliff, of course). Normally, a servant wouldn't have the liberty of speaking to their masters so candidly, but Nelly, being a childhood friend of Catherine and Heathcliff, is allowed to do so.

Conclusion - Today, social class does not really mean much about how people treat others. Back then, it was a huge part of your life, how rich you were in the social ladder. In Wuthering Heights, most of the characters social status fluctuated. We can see the way these characters are treated in the book, whether they're treated well, bad, ignored, as if they just exist, etc. This book has taught us a lot in how much the world has changed. We should not treat people the way that they were treated in the book. Everyone should be treated equally. Learn they're WHOLE story, not just what you see on the outside.

Did you know? There were seven different movies and tv series made based off this book.

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