A Comparison of The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights

The Great Gasby and Wurthering Heights are, arguably, some of the most iconic productions in contemporary times. Both are an apt representation of the great leap forward and transformations in society together with the intricacies which many of the characters had to contend with during the respective periods in which they are set. The Great Gasby revolves around Nick Carraway, an aspiring writer from the American Midwest, who is inadvertently drawn into the intriguing lives of Jay Gatsby, Daisy, and her husband Tom in the bustling metropolis of New York. On the other hand, Wuthering Heights follows the life of Heathcliff, an orphan adopted into a wealhy family and the angst caused by his love his foster sister Cathy who opts to marry the wealtht Edgar Linton.  A comparison of the depiction of love, outcomes, relationships, and basic foundations is, therefore, fundamental to making a comprehensive comparative analysis of both works.

            The plot of both The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights centeers on love as social exchange. In both instances, the protagonists weight the potential costs againts benefits of entering a union before making decisions which are typically pivot a purported sentimental show of love. Tom and Daisy Buchanan are key characters in The Great Gatsby. They have been married for three years and both hail from wealthy families and a major factor that influenced their union in the first place. They are, essentially, from an “old money” class which further cements the prestige of their union (Luhrmann, 2016, p. 56). However, what many fail to realize is the tumultuous nature of the relationship and the continual anguish that Daisy has to bear. She had earlier intimated to Gatsby her second thoughts regarding her marriage to Tom. Yet, she still went on with the ceremony due to the social status of both families and the promise of love and happiness. Daisy is clearly in an unhappy marriage and stays even after discovering Tom’s exploits as a serial philanderer with multiple affairs to his belt, including one with George Wilson’s wife.  She is stuck in an unfulfilling dysfunctional marriage but remains in the union since it reassures her of her position in the “old money aristocracy”. Similarly, Cathy of the Wuthering Heights Estate rejects Heathcliff and instead opts to marry Edgar Lipton based on his social class. From the onset, it is clear that Cathy loves and cares deeply for Heathcliff. They share a remarkable bond, with Heathcliff hoping that this would ultimately blossom into romantic love. However, Cathy is aware of Heathcliff’s status as an adopted orphan and decides to suppress her feelings due to the pressures of social conventions. Cathy’s romance with Lipton is socially acceptable due to his class but comes at a great cost due to its grotesque exaggeration and the absence of passion.

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            Outcomes vary in The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights primarily as a consequence of the difference in epochs in which they are set in.  The Great Gatsby is set in the United States during the 1920s during a transformative period in American History. The post-war fervor had created a nascent new-age society where most Americans adopted a lax and open minded attitude amidst the changes witnessed.  Daisy and Tom Buchanan live through the Roaring Twenties and are hell-bent on living their best lives based upon their status in society and prevalent competence (Friedrich, 2013).  Daisy is well aware of Gatsby’s love for her, but opts to remain in her union with Tom but still claiming to love both men.  Wuthering Heights is set in gothic Victorian England in the 1770s. This is a period defined by societal norms which define every aspect of life and relations between individuals. The all-consuming passion between Heathcliff and Cathy would not have been accepted due to the social dynamics present at the time which defined the structure of society. Finding a soul mate was the least of priorities during this period, with many focusing on the right socially acceptable match as can be seen in Cathy’s marriage to Lipton (Bhattacharyya, 2014).  In this particular case, the protagonists are unable to end up together and are only united in death.

            The relationships presented in The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights are destructive and detrimental to those caught in their midst. In The Great Gatsby, Tom and Daisy Buchanan is the epitome of a dysfunctional union. The couple’s relationship is toxic and ends up affecting them and others in their immediate vicinity. Although Daisy was initially unsure of her decision to marry Tom, she went on with her decision to marry him with the hopes that they would enjoy a happy marriage. However, she is soon confronted by the reality of her decision when she encounters numerous challenges associated with her husband’s demeanor. Tom rarely makes time for Daisy and is poor at taking individual responsibility for his actions (Köbrich, 2016). His affairs are known far and wide, and a depiction of the pervasiveness of adultery during this period. The relationship is toxic and riddled with privileged irresponsibility resulting in the deaths of George Wilson, Myrtle Wilson, and Gatsby.  In Wuthering Heights, Cathy’s marriage to Lipton is superficial. Cathy’s primary motivation for marrying him was his social standing and opulence (Hazette, 2015, p. 32). Nevertheless, it is worth acknowledging that her love was solely founded on her mate’s weakness.  Cathy is well aware of Lipton’s emotional state and mothers him with the aim of comforting him and solidifying her position in the marriage. These events take place with full knowledge of Heathcliff’s feelings, who eventually dies a heartbroken man after a night out at the moor.        

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Although both movies are set 200 years apart, striking similarities in love still exist.  Both The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights highlight romance and the adverse effects of rejection. Jay Gatsby was in love with Daisy and was ready to transform his life in order to finally get the chance to be with her. The initial rejection was mainly due to his social status in society, which was why he desperately sought wealth and markedly claimed that all his ancestors were educated at Oxford University.  He seeks the love of his life and will go to any length to fulfill his dream. Similarly, Wuthering Heights features the unrequited love of Heathcliff who seeks a companion in Cathy.  He is openly rejected due to his heritage as an adopted orphan, with Cathy choosing to marry Edgar Lipton who she views as a better match based on his position within the prevailing societal stratification at that particular point in history.

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