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How are women in particular presented in Wuthering Heights?Specifically whether...

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hennybathurst | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 16, 2012 at 8:25 PM via web

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How are women in particular presented in Wuthering Heights?

Specifically whether Bronte's treatment of women and their role was usual/unusual for the time it was written/whether the women in Wuthering Heights defy or follow contemporary stereotypes.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 16, 2012 at 10:46 PM (Answer #1)

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The women of the 18th and 19th century lived in a world where the patriarchs (men) ruled. The women of the time were expected to live lives according to how their fathers/husbands deemed appropriate and proper. Women were not expected to speak for themselves and only mirror the beliefs of the men in their lives. The role of the woman in these periods was to cook, clean, bear and raise children--basically take care of the domestic sphere and remove themselves from the public one.

That being said, the women of Wuthering Heights were not the typical women of the time. Some of the women in the novel were able to "skirt" the traditional roles of women by taking on typically masculine behaviors. By acting more masculine, their feminine qualities were (somewhat) disregarded and they were allotted more freedoms that the typical woman. Unfortunately, in the end, the typical female weaknesses emerged as being the downfall of one of the main characters (Catherine). Her death is the result of her own inability to control her heart (a problem associated with women). In the end, she dies because she is unable to choose between Heathcliff and Edgar.

Another point which can be made is Heathcliff's treatment of Catherine. Heathcliff physically and mentally abuses Catherine. Again, this exemplifies the problems associated with a patriarchal world which Catherine lived in.

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