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The women in Wuthering Heights suffer due to their own unrealistic expectations. Discuss

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Introduction

The women in Wuthering Heights suffer due to their own unrealistic expectations. Discuss It appears that Catherine's expectations are unrealistic especially when placed in the historical context. The novel is written during the Victorian era where the role of women in relation to marriage was that they were to be obedient, disciplined and faithful to their husband. Catherine does not fulfil any of these roles in the long term. Firstly, she marries Edgar for social and financial benefits. She becomes aware that she belongs to a social class when she and Heathcliff view life in Thrushcross Grange 'It was beautiful-a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass-drops...' Catherine had a treatment of the luxurious lifestyle at Thrushcross Grange, that had been neglected under Hindley's running of the house and wants to maintain this standard of living. Consequently, she marries Edgar because 'he is handsome, and young, and cheerful, and rich' even though she is aware that her deepest feelings of love belong with Heathcliff 'My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. ...read more.

Middle

It is impossible for you to be my friend and his at the same time...' Indeed, Edgar is right to put Catherine's in this difficult situation because any other typical husband at the time would have been less patient with Catherine or banned Heathcliff from the house at an earlier stage. Catherine struggles because the two men in her life represent two types if world and she cannot have both at the same time. Heathcliff represents the spiritual and natural side of life 'Nelly, I am Heathcliff-he's always in my mind...as my own being' whereas Edgar stands for materialistic development and therefore an artificial way of life 'he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest women of the neighbourhood'. Catherine attempts to balance the two demands but both characters reject the other and ultimately, for the novel, Catherine has to die. Contrastingly, Catherine's daughter Cathy is successful in her desires. Unlike Catherine, Cathy is bought up in a civilised, over-protected environment where she has little knowledge of the outside world 'Till she reached the age of thirteen, she had not once been beyond the grange of the park by herself'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Catherine warns Isabella about Heathcliff 'he's a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man' but it is in vain as Isabella accuses Catherine of being jealous and selfish 'You are a dog in a manger, Cathy, and desire no one to be loved but yourself!' Unlike Catherine and Cathy, it is difficult to find sympathy for Isabella because even Heathcliff warns her to some extent 'he stared hard at the object of discourse (Isabella), as one might do at a strange repulsive animal'. It seems that Isabella wilfully misreads the signals because she has a romantic illusion that she can tame the broody character into a loving one 'It is deplorable ignorance of his character...which makes that dream enter your head. Pray, don' imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior!' as Catherine says from experience. Moreover, Isabella gave birth to Linton, who is another character that is tended to be disliked. Linton represents the weak and feeble characteristics that are apparent in his mother and Edgar, which lead to further suffering especially under comparison with the strong and cunning characteristics in Heathcliff and Cathy. ...read more.

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