The Difficulties to Form Successful Relationships

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A relationship between a man and a woman is considered an essential social responsibility in the society. In most cases, such a relationship is socially approved if the two persons are bonded in marriage. Since the Victorian Epoch, numerous men and women around the world have been unable to form successful relationships. This is attributed to different roles of men and women in the society. This essay is a discussion of why men and women have problems in attaining successful relationships by analyzing the novels Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell.

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

In this publication, the challenges of having a successful relationship between a man a woman can be illustrated by the story of Catherine and Heathcliff. The two characters in the plot have a profound love for each other. The term soulmates can be used to describe their ostensible love for each other. Such love drives Heathcliff into getting obsessed with Catherine. The obsession aspect in Heathcliff drives him to kill his love CITATION Bro11 \l 1033 (Bronte, 2011). Nevertheless, even after her death, he becomes more obsessive with the love he felt for her.

Obsession is a key factor that triggers major problems between persons in a relationship. Obsession arises when a person becomes attached to an object, a sensation or another person. This is up to a point that he/she loses the ability to deal with other things in the environment. Obsessive behavior can make a person control his/her partners social interactions with others, profession, and education among others aspects of life. This ultimately creates a conflict of interests because each gender has a role to play in his/her life.

In this publication, it is evident that love can give strength. For instance, Heathcliffs love for his soulmate, Catherine, gives him the strength to endure Hindleys maltreatment after Mr. Earnshaws death. However, love can turn into an obsession which harmful for the persons involved. For instance, Heathcliff becomes obsessed with Catherine, and he is unable to forgive her after she marries Edgar. This validates obsession to be a root problem that causes a man and woman not to attain a successful relationship.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The social and economic aspects of either a man or a woman play a critical role in defining their relationship. This can be manifested by the relationship between Pip and Estella in the publication Great Expectations. Estella is raised by Miss Havisham. She is a wealthy lady in the city until she becomes a lady CITATION Mar05 \l 1033 (Hrubes, 2005). Estella meets Pip, a blacksmith, whom she has strong feelings for but afraid to form a relationship with him. This is on grounds that the two persons come from a different social standing. Miss Havisham is intent at letting Estella break Pips heart since she would never consent to their union.

According to this story, it is evident that most people in the society are intent on having a relationship with other persons on the basis of their social standing. This might not always be in favor of two persons that love each. For instance, due her social standing, Estella has to undergo an intensive emotional suppression to deny her feelings for Pip, who is from a poor background setting. This perception makes Estella confused about her feelings for Pip, and she does not even know how to express them.

The concepts of marriage and relationships, are in most cases, challenged by personal and economic backgrounds. Some persons end up forming social relationships on grounds of social convenience instead of love. Love and friendship should be essential aspects of every relationship. Without the two factors, a conflict between a couple can arise leading to the collapse of a social relationship. This is a primary reason some men and women in the society are not able to form secure and long-lasting relationships.

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

The conquest for money and material things is also another factor that affects numerous social relationships in the society. This phenomenon can be well illustrated by the novel, Mary Barton, which showcases a young girl who has been led to believe that life is a struggle if a person is poor. As a young girl, Marys mother dies, and she is left under the care of a poor father CITATION Mal00 \l 1033 (Malcolm, 2000). Nevertheless, she idolizes and respects her Aunt Esther, who later turns out to be a prostitute. She hopes that her aunt will take her sometimes and teach her to be a lady. However, Jem Wilson helps her understand that truth and love are better than money and material items.

The society is characterized by hardships and struggle especially for people hailing from low-class social setting. Often, young ladies like Mary Barton, crave for superficial things. Most of them tend to use their charms and beauty as the medium of accessing material wealth from the well-off persons in the society. In such cases, the concerned women end up forming social relationships that cannot stand as they are not built on love and respect. In the plot of this novel, it is evident that the young girl is not aware of the concept of love. Instead, she idolizes her aunt Elizabeth, whom she sees as able to get anything from men by using her beauty to indulge in promiscuous behavior.

This revelation also portrays how poverty can affect social relationships between men and women. It is arguable that Esther indulges in her sex trade due to poverty. On the other hand, Mary as young as she is is ready and willing to betray her innocence to acquire money using her beauty from men. Without their desperate conditions, the two characters would probably not have opted for such means of attaining wealth. This argument proves that money is also a building block for healthy relationships between men and women. Consequently, lack of money can trigger indulgence in immorality to achieve financial gains.

Expectations of Men and Women During the Victorian Time

The phrase the Victorian time is used to describe the period that Queen Victoria ruled. Her reign started from June twentieth, eighteen thirty seven, until she died on January twenty second nineteen hundred and one. CITATION Mil16 \l 1033 (Miller, 2016). During this period, there were different expectations for both men and women in the society. The period was characterized by prosperity and ingenuity. Nevertheless, it was also branded with repression and shame. Gender equality was not a palpable phenomenon; instead, men were treated better than women. The expectations between the two genders can be analyzed in terms of sexuality and social norms.


During this epoch, the society was dominated by the belief that a mans sex or sexuality formed the fundamental core of his identity, freedom, social or political standing. This belief cultivated the promiscuous nature of most men in the society. Despite being married, men could go to bars and have affairs with prostitutes. Women, on the other hand, were expected to be pure and innocent. If a woman participated in premarital affairs, she would experience a problem getting married. Such women were considered fallen by the society, and they could form a successful relationship with most men.

Social Norms

During this period, men were considered to be the sole providers of the home. Most men took pride in being the protector of their families. They were given numerous privileges over women such as the right to education, vote or own properties. They were considered greater than women both in the mind and body. The role of women, on the other hand, was to get married and support and protect the interests and business of their husbands. They were not allowed to attain education and instead they were kept home to cook and clean. If the woman failed to perform her domestic chores, she would have a problem in securing a successful relationship with her husband.

Public Sphere and Private Sphere

The ideology of separate spheres during the Victorian Eon can also portray the challenges of social relations between males and women at the time CITATION Vic16 \l 1033 (Victorian Women, 2016). According to the public sphere, men had the capacity to take action, reason, to have independence and to further their self-interests. Women took the private sphere as they were perceived to possess the inherent qualities of femininity. Such qualities included passivity, selflessness, dependence, emotion and submission. If either of the genders did not play their roles in a marriage setting, their relationship would have problems.

Summary Statement

From the analysis of the three excerpts from the novels, it is clear that there are several factors that hinder men and women to form long lasting relationships. The factors include obsession, the social and economic aspects of persons, and search of money and wealth driven by poverty. Obsessive behavior in couples is not good, and instead, relationships should be built on love, respect and trust. Consequently, social standing should not be a determining factor for a healthy relationship. Instead, persons should be allowed to express their love to others irrespective of their economic potential or influence in the society. Ultimately, the demand for money should not let a person betray his/her morality. With hard work and perseverance, wealth can be attained.


In conclusion, the inability for most men and women to form successful relationships is attributed to the disparity in gender roles in the society. In the Victorian Eon, men were allowed to be promiscuous, but women would have problems getting married in they engaged in premarital affairs. The deviation in social roles by either gender would result in problems of having successful relationships. The novels Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell evidences the problem of social relations between men and women in the society. According to the novel excerpts, obsession, social standing or economic influence, demand for wealth and poverty instigates the problem of lasting social relations between men and women.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Bronte, E. (2011, March 14). Romantic Love in Wuthering Heights. Retrieved January 02, 2016, from Emily Bronte:

Hrubes, M. (2005). Great Expectations: The strange romance of Pip and Estella. Munich: GRIN Verlag.

Malcolm, E. (2000, August 25). Mary Barton. Retrieved January 02, 2015, from The Victorian Web:

Miller, I. (2016). The Victorian Era (1837 - 1901). Retrieved January 02, 2016, from Victorias Past:

Victorian Women. (2016). Women as "the Sex" during the Victorian Era. Retrieved February 02, 2016, from Victorian Women: The Gender of Oppression:

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