Wuthering Heights

A Marxist Look at Wuthering Heights College

From the very first pages of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is introduced to readers as a surly and exotic figure. It is ambiguous as to what his unpleasant demeanor and behavior can be attributed. Is it his exoticism, the mistreatment he suffered as a child, or a bit of both? When prompted to give an explanation for Heathcliff’s character, or lack thereof, the text seemingly provides two options. The first suggests that Heathcliff has bad blood, and that the introduction of this foreign street urchin to Wuthering Heights is the sole catalyst for the hardships that befall its inhabitants. The second asserts that Heathcliff is simply a victim of circumstance. Of course, this text is far from explicit, and this nature versus nurture dilemma is more complicated than the two choices listed imply.

Prolific literary critic Terry Eagleton elevates the nature versus nurture debate to a debate between nature and society. He endeavors to put the seemingly remote setting of this novel in a societal context, focusing on the social and economic structures at play. His discourse is particularly concerned with the ways in which Heathcliff’s disruption of this social order colors his relationships with the other characters, specifically...

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