An Examination of the Role of Marriage in Wuthering Heights

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An examination of the role of marriage in Wuthering Heights. Marriage plays a significant role in ‘Wuthering Heights’, and this is shown through the 4 marriages that occur throughout. It is vital to consider how the 19th century time period, affected the decisions made by men and women in the context of marriage. Brontë, demonstrates the intricacies of 19th century marriage, whereby there was a fundamental difference between love and money. There was inequality between men and women in society. It is therefore possible to read Wuthering Heights as an extraordinary critique of the social conditions for women since, Victorian women writers had been largely prevented from writing social or political criticism in their novels. The rural setting of wuthering heights can be seen as indicative of the position of women as isolated from culture and modern industry. A women’s sole purpose was to marry and reproduce and if a women were to remain single, this would result in social disapproval and pity. This could explain some of the reasons for the choices Catherine and Isabella make, as women of the late 18th century. The events of the novel all resonate from the decision, which Catherine makes to marry Edgar Linton rather than Heathcliff. This choice can be interpreted in several different ways. Catherine’s marriage to Edgar is described as affectionate, if subdued. In other words, it conforms to the conventions of marriage in the 19th century. It is a marriage typified by a kind of quiet friendliness, and as such it is utterly at odds with what we have previously seen of Catherine’s character. She recognizes that she must choose Edgar, for the implications this has for her and her children’s lives, however she refuses to accept that this means forgoing Heathcliff and a life of passion. Furthermore, in chapter 9, Catherine puts forward her thoughts on marriage as
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