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Education in Wuthering Heights Essay

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Education of the 18th and 19th century connects closely to the gender association of this period. Men from wealthy families were the only persons provided the opportunity to be educated at the university level. Just as many men use golf to prove their status and superiority today, these gentlemen pursued cricket and rugby. Another similarity with society today involves the importance of personal connections to further your education possibilities and business opportunities. Social standing was extremely important during this time. “Manners, money, birth, occupation and leisure time were crucial indicators of social standing, determining not only one’s place in society but one’s freedom to act, speak, learn, and earn” (Longman p.

1886). (alternate view on Victorian society)

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 struggle between social classes roughly resembles a real-life conflict during this time. The book was published during the Industrial Revolution, a time of great economic change in which laborers fought for fair conditions in the workplace, and employers fought to defend themselves. People formed groups to work for their own benefit, thus, causing the separation of classes THE GENERAL EFFECT THAT STRESS ON EDUCATION AND THUS SOCIAL CLASS BRINGS OUT IN THE NOVEL: Education is the one of the central themes in Wuthering Heights, it brings about social status and class distinction in the novel, one of the major differences that we witness between Class struggle is a central theme found in wuthering heights.

Class determines hatred, marriage, financial situation and occupation in Wuthering heights. The strict guidelines of class structure break hearts, bring about marriages without love and affect the physical and emotional wellbeing of every character. Even the two main houses in Emily Bronte’s novel reflects the difference education imparts on the character’s dispositions and behaviour. The setting of the story at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange provides a clear example of social contrast. While the Heights is depicted as simply typical and “domestic” and associated with uneducated characters: (Nelly, Heathcliff, Hareton, Zillah and Joseph) the Grange is described as a “scene of unprecedented richness” (80). Each house is associated with behaviour fitting the description.

For example, when Catherine is taken into the Grange, she experiences drastic changes, thus going from a “savage” to a “lady” (80). While at this house, she rises in status, learns manners, and receives great privileges such as not having to work due to being acquaintances with the educated Isabella and Linton. Heathcliff, on the other hand, learns to classify himself as a member of the lower class, as he does not possess the education of those at the Grange. THE EFFECT OF EDUCATION (OR LACK OF EDUCATION) ON THE CHARACTERS IN WUTHERING HEIGHTS: *MY IDEA IS THAT THE THEME OF CLASS AND EDUCATION ARE INTERLINKED. EDUCATION BREEDS CLASS AS SEEN IN THE CHARACTERS OF EDGAR LINTON, ISABELLA, CATHERING EARNSHAW (TO SOME EXTENT) AND CATHERINE LINTON HEATHCLIFF:

•Education in Wuthering Heights leads to a better understanding of class and society. The fact that Heathcliff is deprived of an education, immediately lowers his class and ranks him among the servants of Wuthering Heights, emphasized when Catherine Earnshaw returns to Wuthering Heights after her stay at the Lintons. (chapter 7) :” why how very black and cross you look!and how- how funny and grim! But that’s because I’m used to Edgar and Isabella Linton.” •Even though Wuthering Heights’ two families live out in the middle of nowhere, they still abide by the constraints of class. Brontë lets us know through Catherine’s aspirations to marry Edgar Linton that Thrushcross Grange is a far superior manor to the sprawling farmhouse at Wuthering Heights. Now, the Lintons and the Earnshaws are both members of the middle class – between the working class and the elite – as they have servants running the house.

But marriage to Edgar Linton is still the means through which Catherine becomes the “greatest woman of the neighbourhood” (9.59) while, as she tells Nelly, “Did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? whereas if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise and place him out of my brother’s power” (9.99). Being an orphan with no family ties and no land, Heathcliff is the lowest on the totem pole. That Hindley denies Heathcliff an education implies that he is trying to force him to become a servant (which is how he, in fact, refers to him several times). So it makes sense that Heathcliff’s revenge is tied directly to the novel’s class issues, because property ownership is one of the privileges of the middle class and above. :” He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm. (6.9)” •Heathcliff is brought up in a middle class environment with the earnshaws and then into a working class when Hindley takes over custody of Heathcliff.

Heathcliff originally was of low working class, being a gypsy (a poor nomadic race of people) and had dark skin. His ethnic disposition worked against him when being judged by the Earnshaws and Linton’s. This leads to the constant belittling of Heathcliff by Hindley and the Lintons ultimately resulted in his loss of Catherine and his motivation in bring about the downfalls of the Earnshaws and Lintons. •Heathcliff is an orphan; therefore, his station is below everyone else in Wuthering Heights. It was unheard of to raise someone from the working class as a member of the middle-to-upper middle class. Even Nelly, who was raised with the Earnshaw children, understood her place below her childhood friends. When Mr. Earnshaw elevates the status of Heathcliff, eventually favoring him to his own son, this goes against societal norms.

This combination of elevation and usurpation is why Hindley returns Heathcliff to his previous low station after the death of Mr. Earnshaw, and that is why Heathcliff relishes in the fact that Hindley’s son Hareton is reduced to the level of a common, uneducated labourer. •Due to the fact that Heathcliff is uneducated Catherine begins to prefer Edgar Linton’s society simply because Edgar is able to discuss more intellectual topics than Heathcliff, thus due to his lack of education and class distinct he lost the love of his life, Catherine. •Only after he becomes educated and more genteel does he garner more respect in the novel.

•When Heathcliff returns, having money is not enough for Edgar to consider him a part of acceptable society, as he is not educated. Heathcliff uses his role as the outcast to encourage Isabella’s infatuation. The feelings that both Catherine and Isabella have for Heathcliff, the common laborer, cause them to lose favor with their brothers. Hindley and Edgar cannot accept the choices their sisters make and therefore, withdraw their love. When a woman betrays her class, she is betraying her family and her class — both unacceptable actions. •It should be noted that Heathcliff uses the Victorian’s obsession with class distinct and education against his enemies. They are tools of his revenge.

CATHERINE:

•Social class and education must be the reason Catherine marries Edgar; she is attracted to the social comforts he can supply her. No other plausible explanation exists. Catherine naively thinks she can marry Edgar and then use her position and his money to assist Heathcliff, but that would never happen. •The fact that her own brother Hindley deprives her true love, Heathcliff of an education makes Catherine realize the fact that Heathcliff would never be of any consequence to society as in Victorian times education and class distinct ran hand in hand. This is what broadens the chasm between Catherine and her childhood companion Heathcliff as she comes back from her stay at the Lintons. •It is Heathcliff’s lack of education that drives her into the society of the Lintons.

•The fact that Hindley deprives Heathcliff of an education cements Cathy’s view of Heathcliff as a tyrant and causes a chasm between brother and sister. •The fact that education is such an important part of Victorian society is emphasized by Catherine’s choice to marry Linton rather than Heathcliff. Catherine’s decision to marry Edgar Linton rather than Heathcliff, and this decision widens the gap between social classes. Edgar Linton is a wealthy man of high status and education, and Heathcliff is poor and possesses no assets. Catherine does not consider personal feelings, but instead, she focuses on her outward appearance to society. “Edgar Linton will be rich and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood whereas if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars (81).” It is obvious that wealth justifies social class, and Catherine strives to achieve high status.

HINDLEY:

•Out of all the characters in the novel, Hindley seems to be the most worldly, from a young age he is sent off to college, mainly due to his father’s deference to Heathcliff. This causes us to believe that he is more exposed to Victorian class distinction, more than the other characters of the novel as he is sagacious enough that he discovers that by depriving Heathcliff of an education he ultimately separates him from Catherine as he is then ranked among a servant. •Due to Heathcliff, in a cyclical turn of events, Hindley’s own son due a combination of his own neglect and Heathcliff’s cruelty is deprived of education. The fact that he is deprived of education deprives him of any social consequence and his own birthright, emphasizing Emily Bronte’s theme that class and social standing can’t exist without education.

EDGAR LINTON:

•Edgar Linton is a wealthy and well-educated with a noticeably higher ranking than the tenants of Wuthering Heights. •Although his rank has made him rather weak- willed and effeminate in character. (Emily Bronte seems to associate the genteel class with slightly effeminate characteristics) he is well educated and this leads him to win the heart of Catherine. •His high social status and education make him dislike Heathcliff whom he regards as a ‘gypsy’, his wife and sister’s regard for a man with such low education is a cause for his extreme dislike towards Heathcliff •Edgar embodies Victorian society’s idea of a well- educated. Cultured gentleman. Emily Bronte uses Edgar to depict the value of education in such a society, he is a complete contrast to the character of Heathcliff.

HARETON:

•while Hareton’s outward behaviour might suggest a lack of character, he responds to Cathy’s beauty and love by striving to improve his mind. Hareton realizes the importance of education in Victorian society. •Heathcliff’s revenge on him is to make Hareton a double of a younger Heathcliff, by denying Hareton his right to an education he makes Hareton less than a servant in Victorian society. This is emphasized by Linton Heathcliff and Catherine Linton’s treatment of him.

CATHERINE LINTON:

•Wuthering heights is famous due to Emily Bronte’s use of doubles or ‘shadowing’ both mother (Catherine Earnshaw) and daughter (Catherine Linton) share a distate for those characters with a lack of education, emphasizing the Victorian era’s obsession with education and the important role it played in class distinction. •Catherine Linton shows distaste and even disgust towards her uneducated cousin Hareton, she is shocked that they are related and mocks him with her more cultured cousin Linton Heathcliff •It is Catherine’s distaste at Hareton’s lack of education that prevents her from seeing the aid Hareton was attempting to provide when she is forcibly taken to Wuthering Heights by Heathcliff.

Isabella:

•Isabella’s regard for the ‘gypsy’, Heathcliff who she pays no mind to as a child only grows when he returns from his expeditions as an educated man. •When Isabella marries Heathcliff she betrays her cultured and educated upbringing leading to estrangement from her brother this emphasizes the chasm that Heathcliff’s lack of education creates throughout the book, separating characters and damaging relationships. It also shows the social unacceptability of being uneducated in England in the Victorian era.

QUOTATIONS REPRESENTING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF EDUCATION IN THE NOVEL: (the quotes are cited chapter.paragraph)

•He drove him from their company to the servants, deprived him of the instructions of the curate, and insisted that he should labour out of doors instead; compelling him to do so as hard as any other lad on the farm. (6.9) Hindley’s project to punish his father’s favorite begins as soon as the old man dies. To make Heathcliff a farmhand, bereft of education (instructions), is to put him in the lowest possible position. The gentry never work with their hands. •[Hindley] wished earnestly to see her bring honour to the family by an alliance with the Lintons, and as long as she let him alone she might trample on us like slaves, for aught he cared! (9.152) Hindley has designs on the Lintons’ social status. Nelly resents the treatment she receives from Catherine. Nelly (who is speaking here) may not be a slave, but she is a servant – yet more often than not she acts like a family member.

•“but he yielded completely and there was no prevailing on him to take a step in the way of moving upward, when he found he must necessarily sink beneath his former level” chapter 8 •:”what good do I get- what do you talk about……or for anything you fo either!” chapter 8 •:”and he will be rich and i…………..husband” chapter 9 •:”and the curate doesn’t teach you to read and write,……..Heathcliff had promised that” chapter 10 •:”papa is gone to fetch……………………….relationship with such a clown” chapter 4 volume 2 •:”he has satisfied my expectations………………………….he takes pride in his brutishness” chapter 7 volume 2. •:”he does not know his letters…………….dunce?” •:”Mr Hareton is not envious………..in a few years” chapter 16 volume 2 •:”and tell him if he’ll take it…………..never tease him again.” Chapter 18 volume 2

EDUCATION IN THE COLOR PURPLE:

Walker also makes it evident to readers the level of education many of the blacks in the novel had received, which is representative of the black community in the South as a whole in those days. As Walker shows, many females did not finish school, and were instead married away at early ages. Also, many young males were not able to attend school long, considering they were needed to help farm the land. Because of this, most of dialogue in the book is written as if an uneducated person was trying to speak English. For example, many sentences appear to have not only spelling, but grammatical errors as well, such as “Where us going? ast the oldest girl.” In one of the main character’s, Celie, letters to her sister Nettie, she comments on how two women are trying to teach her how to “talk”. She states, “She say us not so hot. A dead country give-away. You say US where most people say WE, she say, and peoples think you dumb. Colored peoples think you a hick and white folks be amuse.” However, in Nettie’s letters to Celie, Walker uses correct grammar and spelling.

This is because Nettie was more educated than most of the black people in the South, going to school for many years. Therefore, Walker is using the two sister’s English to show a direct contradiction in the way most blacks in the South at that time spoke, and the way a few that were schooled well spoke. Thus, the reader is able to gauge the education level of the characters in the book by their dialogue. This level is in direct correlation with the level of education of the blacks that really did exist in the South after the Civil War, due to lack of school funding and time for learning. Celie’s point of view is particularly interested.

Unlike Nettie, Celie is an uneducated woman, having been forced to drop out of school around the age of fourteen when she became pregnant by her Pa. Her lack of education is apparent from her poor spelling and grammar. Nettie, however, is educated. Her spelling and grammar are correct, and her letters discuss more complex topics, such as women’s rights, civil rights, religion, politics, and more. However, it isn’t only Nettie that has an interesting story to tell. Despite Celie’s poor educational background, Celie tells a powerful story. In this sense, Walker’s chosen narrator shows that all people, including poor, uneducated, victimized black women have an important story to tell.

QUOTES ABOUT EDUCATION IN THE COLOR PURPLE:

•“The Olinka girls do not believe girls should be educated. When I asked a mother why she thought this, she said: A girl is nothing to herself; only to her husband can she become something. What can she become? I asked.

Why, she said, the mother of his children But I am not the mother of anybody’s children, I said, and I am something.” •“She say us not so hot. A dead country give-away. You say US where most people say WE, she say, and peoples think you dumb. Colored peoples think you a hick and white folks be amuse.” •Why do they say I will be a wife of the chief? asks Olivia. That is as high as they can think, I tell her. He is fat and shiny with huge perfect teeth. She thinks she has nightmares about him. You will grow up to be a strong Christian woman, I tell her. Someone who helps her people to advance. You will be a teacher or a nurse. You will travel. You will know many people greater than the chief. Will Tashi? she wants to know. Yes, I tell her, Tashi too. (62.13-18)

•Tashi is very intelligent, I said. She could be a teacher. A nurse. She could help the people in the village. There is no place here for a woman to do those things, he said. Then we should leave, I said. Sister Corrine and I. No, no, he said. Teach only the boys? I asked. Yes, he said, as if my question was agreement. There is a way that the men speak to women that reminds me too much of Pa. (63.14-20)

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