Feminism Within Wuthering Heights
Set in the Romantic period, an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte in 1847, broke boundaries for females worldwide. During this time and many years before that, many people rejected the way women were characterized in this novel, especially the main protagonist Catherine, because they had a will and voice of their own which was unthought of considering it went against many social norms and the common misconception of women being less than equal when compared to men at this time. It was so often rejected by the public that people didn’t start accepting the book until almost half a century later when real groundbreaking feminist studies were made over the novel. Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte, exposed the overlooked and “secretive” side of women that took away from their femininity in a sense, making it one of the largest turning points in feminism, and literature as a whole.
Writers during this time did their best to make it their mission to educate people about social issues that were not well talked about. Authors like the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and Jane Austen sought social justice within their writing in efforts to call attention to these injustices.
With their convincing works, we increase a superior comprehension of how issues were introduced during this period. Emily Brontë depicts her thoughts regarding gender issues during this time period by the means of her novel Wuthering Heights. A lot of what Brontë decides to incorporate is extremely intentional. She was generally centered around ‘primary aspects of life’ and gives a degree of her individual vision that is unparalleled by her sisters (Bhattacharyya 1). She invests heavily on incorporating explicit characters, views, and language. Brontë exhibited ‘profound knowledge on human emotion’ which is evoked inside Wuthering Heights (Bhattacharyya 1). She analyzes each character cautiously and gives them their own frames of mind and sentiments, especially the women. What Brontë is attempting to pass on to her perusers ‘scope of danger’ of these feelings (Bhattacharyya 3). Peck and Coyle note that the novel is by all accounts ‘got between an old lifestyle and the new universe of the Victorians’ (Peck and Coyle 178). The book describes how the Victorians ‘withdrew into themselves or detached themselves from other people’ (Peck and Coyle 178). On the off chance that the characters straightforwardly speak to the cultural sex standards, at that point we can unmistakably relate the confusion in the novel to the turmoil in society Bronte’s direct intent with Wuthering Heights is to provide insight into society- including male dominant roles which, like in most literature, examines the “masculine point of view that is oppressive to women” (Homans 9). For Brontë, she needed to call attention to out. ‘Emily Brontë never allows the reader to forget that the rulers of the house are male’ (Abraham 94). Setting a male at the leader of the family would have been standard. On the off chance that she had decided to make the ladies have dominant roles in society, it would have made the story considerably less conceivable. Abraham composes that we see ‘male dominance in the female sphere’ (Abraham 94). In any event, when everything happens in what is considered customarily ‘domestic,’ a ‘female realm,’ it is still devoured by male-centric predominance (Abraham 94). Catherine initially picks Heathcliff as her suitor. Be that as it may, Catherine, in the long run, decreases Heathcliff’s relationship drive due to his cultural status in contrast with Linton’s. Eagleton noticed that she ‘rejects Heathcliff as a suitor because he is socially inferior to Linton’ (Eagleton 101). In doing this, ‘Catherine trades her authentic selfhood for social privilege’ (Eagleton 101). This is pulverizing for Heathcliff and he censures Catherine for doing as such, taking note of that she genuinely loves him. He realizes that she is just dismissing him with the goal that she may propel her own status in the public eye. Heathcliff yells at Catherine, squashed and discouraged by her surrender. For Catherine, her association with Heathcliff, concerning cultural models, would be inconceivable. During this time period, she had to follow the standards set for women, being suited to the man with high social class and wealth, and since that was Linton, she had no other “reasonable” option other than Linton. Choosing Heathcliff would have been absurd in the eyes of society. As a lady, she required an appropriate spouse – and this was not Heathcliff. For Catherine, picking Heathcliff would have been cultural suicide. Impacted by Victorian benchmarks for her sexual orientation, Catherine decries Heathcliff and seeks after Linton, considering this to be the main adequate way in her brain.
For some, Victorians, misuse and viciousness towards ladies was indorsed ‘solely to yokels and ruffians.’ (Jacobs 205). Be that as it may, numerous students of history note that ladies of every single social class endured misuse. The relationships in the novel investigate the “extreme alternate the new social discipline that” which embodies the Victorian era (Peck and Coyle 178). There was next to no equity for manhandled ladies, and strength inside connections among people was regarded common. Brontë notes “about the difficulties of being a woman” and the way she was treated by others (Homans 165). Women were not to be trusted, nor taken seriously. It was accepted that ladies should have been constrained by men since they were not able to control themselves. They were viewed as excessively passionate and unintelligent creatures. Brontë voices how frightening it would be for men to envision a reality where angry ladies were productive and delivered posterity who emulated their example. The idea that a woman would have a captivation with something that men had not deemed suitable was preposterous. Victorians felt that women needed stability in their lives and that only men could provide it. For Brontë, the goal of the novel was to write “to overcome the impediments encountered” within her world that was dominated by “masculine tradition” (Homans 9). Women were to be dutiful and provide faithful servitude to the men around them.
N.M. Jacobs identifies that the men in the novel “evaluate women almost entirely according to their willingness to flatter and conciliate” the male characters ( Jacobs 208-209). This would have been standard for Brontë’s time frame, as ladies were relied upon to wed, settle down with their spouses, produce kids, and bring up those youngsters at the same time performing family unit obligations. Ladies were relied upon to be charming, dazzling, and satisfying to men. In the event that a suitor was accommodated them, females were relied upon to be forgiving and thankful for the chance to go through their lives with that suitor, birthing and raising his children.
Catherine is solid in certain territories, yet she battles while standing up to her dad. Catherine’s trades with her dad are the place Brontë truly shows the profundities of female abuse. Catherine, subsequent to feeling oppressed about her collaborations with her dad, is reprimanded for feeling pitiful. Catherine is harassed diligently all through the story. As Bhattacharyya notes, she is considered a “damsel” (Jacobs 31). Brontë needs her group of spectators to sympathize with Catherine’s agony, just as to increase a superior comprehension of how ladies were abused by society, their families, and even close associates. The tale speaks to the philosophy of encompassing ladies being abused by everyone around them since they are not seen as esteemed individuals from society. By putting ladies down and manhandling them, this example of man-centric disregard, misuse, and predominance can be continued.Depicted throughout the entirety of this novel, feminist movements were present as a means to emphasize the importance of equality between the two sexes, something revolutionary during this time, something well overdue and well needed.
All throughout Wuthering Heights, feminist ideas were evidently expressed, even before feminism was created. This made it one of the most groundbreaking pieces in literature, although it was before it’s time. Being set in the Romantic period in history, paved the way for this new perspective of women, not being dependent on men and being their own person, although it took around half a century because the idea was so unheard of, ultimately adding onto the reputation and legacy it created many years ago.
- Abraham, Andrew. “Emily Brontë’s Gendered Response to Law and Patriarchy.” Brontë Studies: The Journal of the Brontë Society, vol. 29, no. 2, July 2004, pp. 93-103.
- Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Yorkshire, Thomas Cautley Newby, 1847. Bhattacharyya, Jibesh. The Atlantic Critical Studies: Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Atlantic, 2007.
- Eagleton, T. Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontës. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2005.
- Homans, Margaret. Women Writers and Poetic Identity: Dorothy Wordsworth, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson. Princeton University Press, 1980.
- Jacobs, N. M. “Gender and Layered Narrative in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.’” The Journal of Narrative Technique, vol. 16, no. 3, 1986, pp. 204–219. JSTOR [JSTOR].
- Peck, John, and Martin Coyle. A Brief History of English Literature. Second ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.