What is the thesis statement in Annette Federico's essay about Wuthering Heights - "The Waif at the Window:  Emily Bronte's Feminine "Bildungsroman"?

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this essay, Annette Frederico argues that the first generation in the novel is actually a regression from adulthood to adolescence, while the second half represents a bildungsroman. According to the author, Catherine and Heathcliff mature as children, building an adult relationship in their childhood friendship. But as they age, the forces in play at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange serve to separate them, which drives them in emotional immaturity. Their adult lives are characterized by resentment, tantrums, secrecy, etc. Catherine, in particular, in unable to make up her mind, and choose between Edgar and Heathcliff. This reluctance to choose a path is a childish action.

Yet the second generation in the novel represents a portrayal of female maturation and education in the 1800s. Cathy conquers her biases and fears, and reaches out to Hareton herself. She makes the attempt to understand her situation, and the lives of those around her. Although one can argue that she is a spoiled, unpleasant child, as she ages she finds her voice and a compassion unevident in her early years. She even chooses her own husband, which shows that she has found her identity and her independence.

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Wuthering Heights

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