What role does social convention play in Wuthering Heights?

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Social convention plays a major antagonistic role in Wuthering Heights. Catherine Earnshaw is, by nature, a wild personality. She loves being outdoors, playing rough, and being rather nasty. However, once she starts approaching adulthood, social conventions play a bigger role in her life. She is tempted by high society, represented in the genteel character of Edgar Linton. She begins wearing fine clothes, putting on airs to appear more imperious and polite, and staying indoors, away from Heathcliff, a boy who is closer than a brother or even a lover to her.

Catherine's turning to high society is seen as a betrayal of Heathcliff and her own nature. It could be argued that her obeying social conventions eventually leads to her death. She makes herself ill, unable to commit to Heathcliff or Edgar fully. She wants social privilege, but she is far more drawn to the wild freedom of her girlhood, of which she mourns her loss to Nelly. These two opposing forces are never reconciled within her...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 685 words.)

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