"Wuthering Heights" By Emily Bronte: To What Extent Do You See Differing Approaches To The Analysis Of Your Text Useful In Understanding The Author's Intention?

1507 words - 6 pages

In "Wuthering Heights", Emily Bronte both represents and criticizes the ways in which class structure, education and gender shapes and defines social relationships. Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights can be approached as a social criticism in which Bronte is not only questioning the values and attitudes of her society but is also commenting on the oppressive nature of society. When interpreting a novel like Wuthering Heights one must realise that despite our differing contexts, the textual integrity of Wuthering Heights still remains applicable to a contemporary audience. The relevance of Wuthering Heights can be seen through the exploration of universal themes that makes it a timeless literary masterpiece. Nineteenth century England was a time of great social and economic change and because of this, the idea of the 'angel in the house' emerged as the Victorian icon which played and important role in influencing and shaping the conventions of society. This ideal of the 'angel in the house' is important when examining the novel in terms of gender as one is able to gain a greater insight into the role of women in Victorian society. By examining Wuthering Heights from an educational approach, one is able to understand and realise the real extent and power that education has in separating and maintaining this separation between the different classes. Class structure, as an approach shows the many inequalities that exist between the different classes.Bronte shows how the control over education allows the upper class power over the working class. It is in this way that education is used as a form of social and class oppression. This can be especially seen through the relationship between Hindley and Heathcliff. Hindley, as a member of the upper class is able to deny Heathcliff an education merely as he is the one in power whilst Heathcliff has none. 'He had..lost the benefit of his early education...he struggled long to keep up an equality with Catherine in her studies'. The denial of education allows Heathcliff to deteriorate in all aspects of his life: 'his personal appearance sympathized with mental deterioration; he acquired a slouching gait and ignorable look'. Through the use of language imagery, Bronte is able to give the responder a more striking image of the effects that a lack of education has had on Heathcliff. Bronte, using Heathcliff as her tool shows the reader how the upper class use education as a form of power in which the lower classes often suffer.In Catherine and Hareton's relationship, Bronte uses the importance of education to show how the access or in Hareton's case the deprivation of education shapes one's life. In "Wuthering Heights", education is used as a tool of social distinction where people who have education have power over those who have less or none. Catherine receives an education from her father, "he took her education entirely on himself...she learnt rapidly and eagerly" making Catherine an educated young lady....

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