Social standings hold a lot of importance. It can come in between two lovers, friends, and family. Many characters in Emily Bronte ‘s novel, Wuthering Heights, are affected by class distinction and social judgment. The first example of society, and social standings affecting a character is when Catherine married Edgar Linton, an upper class man, resulting in hurting the one she loves most; even herself. Second, Isabella married Healthclif, resulting in being shunned by her one and only brother, Edgar, as well as her family. The last example is Heathcliff treated poorly for his social standing, and background. When Catherine gets married to Edgar, Heathcliff feels betrayed. “…if Heathcliff and I married, we should beggers? Whereas if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise and place him out of my brother’s power”(Bronte 81).
The quote proves that Catherine’s main intention was to gain wealth, and as the readers know; a better reputation. She knows that if she marries into the Lintons, she will be known to be proper, and part of an upper class family. Catherine is driven by society’s expectations on whos to marry who. Her intentions and wantings create a separation between her and Heathcliff. “ My love for Linton is like the foliage in the wood; time will change it. I’m well aware as winter changes the tree. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath….”(Bronte 82). Catherine explains how the love for Heathcliff is eternal, even tho a wedge has come in between them. The two lovers were separated by society, and Cathy’s wants. But they will always be together not by body, but by soul.
Isabella, Edgar’s loving sister, married Heathcliff in the novel thinking that he loved her with all his heart. “Hereafter she is only my sister in name; not because I disown her but because she disowned me”(Bronte 132). When Edgar found out, he did not agree with their marriage since Heathcliff is from a lower class, and he has a bad background. Heathcliff’s dark skin, and “savage” like appearance. Society’s outlook on Heathcliff is the reason why Edgar will not accept him into their family. Thus, by Isabella marrying Heathcliff, she creates a wedge in between her and her family. She goes against society’s expectations, and her family turns their backs on her. In the majority of the novel, Heathcliff is treated poorly for his social standing and background.
Cathy bad mouths him in front of Isabella out of jealousy even though what she said was true. “ He’s not a rough diamond-a pearl containing an oyster of a rustic: he’s a fierce pitiless, wolfish man” (Bronte 102). The quote shows how everyone, including Cathy, see Heathcliff. Even though that portrayal might not be true, that’s his social standing, and how society sees him. When he goes to the Lintons with Catherine, only she is taken in. They thought he was a savage so he was left outside. In this novel, Bronte exaggerates the idea of social standing, and society’s expectation. The way the characters in this novel are influenced by society, not only hurts them selves, but hurts their loved ones, friends, and family. We can learn from this novel that people are easily influenced by other people, and things around them. However, in the end, it makes them come to realization about themselves.