• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The position of the female in 19th Century English society was of key import to Bront in Wuthering Heights, explore the validity of this statement.

Extracts from this document...


'The position of the female in 19th Century English society was of key import to Bront� in Wuthering Heights', explore the validity of this statement. During the early 1800's, the period in which Emily Bront� wrote 'Wuthering Heights', English women were treated as inferior to men and as a result had sparse rights and were in possession of almost no power. Women were expected to conform to strict social protocols such as complete obedience and devotion to their husbands, were only able to pursue careers in restrictive badly paid roles such as governess, and were poorly protected by a legal system which universally favoured men- making it virtually impossible to escape from an unhappy, possibly violent marriage. Throughout Wuthering Heights, Bront� challenges the position of the female in English society by developing the characters of Catherine Earnshaw and Isabella Linton as strong, intelligent women who were ultimately broken by the social conventions which bound their spirit and ambition- forcing them into decisions which would destroy their lives. Catherine Earnshaw is the female protagonist of the novel and is described as a beautiful, passionate woman who is torn between her socially degrading eternal love for Heathcliff and the prospect of ...read more.


Furthermore, this statement supports the Marxist interpretation that the conflicts in 'Wuthering Heights' are a result of the bourgeois class oppressing the proletariats (in this case Hindley Earnshaw's abuse of Heathcliff) and demonstrates Bront�'s interest in questioning the society and legal system of her time, which was harsh on both the lower classes and women- it was not until 1918 that all English women and men over 21 were allowed to vote; it is also clear that Bront� was knowledgeable about the English legal system as her utilisation of inheritance law and the way Heathcliff is able to exploit the law to abuse Isabella without punishment is completely accurate and further highlights the way women's position in society is severely compromised by gaping holes in the English legislation. It could be argued that these legal and social impediments are represented by the physical barriers in 'Wuthering Heights' such as the windows of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange; it is significant that both Isabella and Catherine are imprisoned by these barriers as it demonstrates that women of all class are confined by the restraints of the patriarchal society which they live in. ...read more.


from her home which she loved so much; her decision to marry Heathcliff ends badly, just as Cathy's marriage to Linton is ultimately doomed. It is also significant that Lockwood's first encounter with Catherine's name is in her notebooks which are scrawled with three different names, 'Catherine Earnshaw', 'Catherine Heathcliff' and 'Catherine Linton'- this is Bront� demonstrating the way women are owned by men even in their name, one's most powerful asset, an idea further corroborated by Nelly calling Isabella 'Mrs. Heathcliff'. Ideas such as this issue of ownership are prevalent throughout 'Wuthering Heights' and Bront� constantly challenges the social patriarchy in which she lived by articulating her message that women are equal to men through the suggestion that women are being unfairly treated at the hands of their husbands, the legal system and the social protocol which they are forced to abide by. There is a consistent theme of physical and mental barriers in the novel and it is clear that Emily Bront� was trying to break down the metaphorical barriers facing women in the 19th Century by questioning their treatment and developing the characters of Isabella and Cathy to inspire other women to break free from their shackles. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Emily Bronte section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Emily Bronte essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The Gothic Elements of Wuthering Heights

    3 star(s)

    shocked into one of the most violent acts of the novel; as Catherines child-ghost clings to him he rubs her wrists on the broken windowpane 'till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes.'

  2. Peer reviewed

    Wuthering Heights. The narrative tale tells the story of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet ...

    3 star(s)

    by saying, 'Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as moonbeam from lightning or frost from fire'. Social class plays a huge role in this separation, Cathy said it would degrade her to marry Heathcliff because he was a servant

  1. Compare and contrast the ways women are presented in both 'Wuthering Heights' and 'A ...

    Her desires draw her to danger like a moth drawn to light, but like a moth she inevitably gets 'burned' and an example of this is her fatal attraction to Stanley. This attraction to danger in the form of light resembles Catherine's attraction to the 'black fire' of Heathcliff.

  2. Explore the presentation of Heathcliffs journey in Wuthering Heights, in the light of the ...

    so as to insulate her from the pressure of her brothers domination', this shows the possibilities that Heathcliff might have been able to integrate into the Earnshaws and therefore society in turn becoming Catherine's chance for freedom from strict social structure, but because of the base structure of the Victorian Society he is rejected.

  1. Theme of outsiders in both "The Color Purple" and "Wuthering Heights"

    This isolated setting is important for Bronte's combination of realism and gothic symbolism. Living beyond the bounds of society means that the outsider, whoever it may be is seen as a suspicious and threatening entity, someone who has to be excluded or isolated for the good of the society at

  2. Is Catherine Earnshaw a Typical Victorian Woman or a Modern Woman?

    Overall, the result was increased power for women. Catherine has been well educated and despite societal norms, attempts to teach Heathcliff what she's learnt. She also holds a lot of power in the novel, over most over characters.

  1. Outsiders and Outcasts in "Wuthering Heights"

    both characters do however share parallels in their mistreatment as a result of their outsider status. Lockwood as an outsider to the environment of Wuthering Heights is portrayed as a bumbling intruder. As a narrator he is revealed to be extremely fallible, making countless mistakes most laughably calling young Catherine Heathcliff?s? ?amiable lady?.

  2. Wuthering Heights accurately reflects the sharp class divisions of nineteenth century England. Discuss

    Time will change it? while her, ?love for Heathcliff is like the eternal rocks beneath-a source of little visible delight, but necessary?; still, Catherine chooses to marry Edgar, or rather marries the Linton?s elite social status. It is ironic that Hindley ?puts things to right? with regards to social class

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work