Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WUTHERING HEIGHTS - MARXIST CRITICISM

I have to admit that I had to do a little more research on Marxist criticism in order to truly understand it.  Now that I have, I can see why "Wuthering Heights" would be a excellent subject for this particular type of criticism.

Before reading the passage on Marxist criticism, I thought that "Wuthering Heights" was just another love story and that the revenge saga was just a way to fill up space in the novel. But the more I think about it, the more I am beginning to realize that Emily Bronte was using her novel as a social commentary about the disparages between the rich and the poor and the lack of rights given to women.  Heathcliff served as a catalyst for both.

In the beginning, Heathcliff is brought to "Wuthering Heights" by the kindhearted Earnshaw.  He was starved and unkempt and it was obvious that he was not in the same social class as the Earnshaws.  As indicated in our class discussion, even though he was fed and clothed and allowed to live with the Earnshaws, he was still an outsider to the original family.  And when the father died, Hindley immediately removed Heathcliff from his position as "family member" to servant.  This was also reinforced by Edgar Linton as well.  As soon as he saw Heathcliff, he knew that he was not in the same class as he and immediately despised him.  And the constant reference to the term "gypsy" made me think of another term that's used to remind someone of their class - "nigger".

Bronte also used Heathcliff as a way to comment on the role of women in her society.  Heathcliff's revenge on Hindley and Edgar rested solely on the fact that women were not allowed to own property and whatever they acquired through death immediately went to their male counterparts, whether it be brother or husband.  If it wasn't for this norm in their society, Heathcliff's plan would have never come into fruition.

2 comments:

  1. I, also, had to research more on Marxist Criticism to fully understand it. I like the way Bronte uses Heathcliff as a "puppet," of sorts, to show the social alienation many people of non-white skin color usually faced, no matter how well they were treated in the beginning or what the context of their relationship was to their "family" (owners). Catherine is a great figure for Bronte to use to demonstrate the lack of womens' rights in that time period, especially the way she is manipulated by the land-owning men in the novel- until her death.

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  2. You bring up a good point that I didn’t think about in the same way. At first, I also thought Wuthering Heights was just another love story and, to fill space, had one of the characters embark on a quest for revenge. After looking at the novel through the Marxist lens, however, you see that Heathcliff sort of represents the poor, working class revolting against the established upper class and improving his social status. Heathcliff’s acquisition of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange shows a “gipsy” become a man with power. Reading about the Marxist criticism made me realize how many different perspectives can be taken to critique Wuthering Heights. Although Heathcliff looked ragged and unkempt when he first arrived at Wuthering Heights, we really don’t know where he came from. Since Heathcliff’s origins are mysterious, he could possibly be the son of a Chinese emperor and Indian queen, so he could be in the same, if not a higher, social class than the Earnshaws (Brontë 290). I agree with you that Heathcliff’s revenge plan served as a commentary on women’s rights back in Brontë’s day. Brontë effectively shows how women were not treated as equally as men before the law.

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