Literature -WH and TSS – Culture, class and Society

Another literature post unfortunately… on the bright side, I’ve almost covered everything, yay!

Culture, class and society

Wuthering Heights focuses on class and society the most, with culture making small appearances in these two themes. The two families live in the middle of nowhere with no one to judge them, but they are still restricted by class. The Lintons and the Earnshaws are both members of the middle class—between the working class and the elite. But marriage to Edgar Linton still means that Catherine becomes the “greatest woman of the neighbourhood,” 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.”

Being an orphan with no family ties and no land, Heathcliff is the lowest on the totem pole. The fact that Hindley denies Heathcliff an education implies that he’s trying to force him to become a servant. So it makes sense that Heathcliff’s revenge is tied directly to the novel’s class issues. Culture is shown mostly through religion, which heavily influences society. People must be respectable for their class and around the public – they have to act a certain way to be socially important and respectable. One of the social outings expected by society and their class (a class that has the time to do this) is going to church and having religious beliefs and knowledge.

Property is used to show education, as the better the house, the more money, the better raised you are and the better education you have. Your family name comes in here as you need to be respected and be good in society as so to make a name for yourself and have a status to go with the name and fortune. The property, due to the money and education, will also be grand. This shows the cycle that people are in – it is very difficult to make a good home, education, and a lot of money when you start from nothing. Heathcliff is the difficult person in this though, as he has been raised as an Earnshaw without the name. He is essentially a low, working class man but he was raised to be middle class. To the Wuthering Heights side, he is a respectable young man when he comes back from his three-year absence, but to Thrushcross Grange, he still seems to be a gentleman but they know that he is not really, and they know his background. Hareton doesn’t get the same sort of luxuries as Heathcliff though. He has no one to protect, educate or help him when he is home being raised and radicalized by Joseph and Heathcliff. He becomes a ‘gentleman’ and very rich, but he isn’t really due to his upbringing. He should have a place in society, but doesn’t due to the education part, which is in some way helped by Cathy, but not the way it should have been.

A Thousand Splendid Suns looks at how wars influence society, class and culture. The culture is described as vibrant and truly amazing, but is being destroyed by the war due to religious and political reasons which overflows into public violence, i.e. society. The rural areas are described as even more gorgeous than the urban although for different reasons (such as the statue Laila visits vs the city in the poem her father tells her). People love the culture of the cities and towns, which is what keeps them there. But the county is pretty and has a big religious reason for being loved that couldn’t be mimicked in the city. The ethnic groups cause a big problem, which Hosseini isn’t afraid to criticise, for different groups have different views on how things should be done, meaning everyone is split a part.

There we go! I hope you got something out of it 🙂

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