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

Authors Avatar by jlogan616c2kninet (student)

Catherine Earnshaw’s attitudes and behaviour are more like those of a typical modern woman than a typical Victorian woman.

‘Wuthering Heights’ deals with the raw animal passion that finds no home within the walls of institutionalized society. Bronte dared to go outside of what Victorian society deemed correct, regarding the presentation of not only Catherine and Heathcliff's love but female sexual desire overall. This is why I believe that Catherine Earnshaw's attitudes and behaviours are depicted in a way that makes her to be more of a typical modern woman than of a typical Victorian one.

It was widely assumed in the Victorian era that women did not have any sexual desire and were to therefore, stay chaste for their future husband. However, it is possible that Catherine had engaged in, or had expressed her desire to be in a sexual relationship with Heathcliff when she states, ‘I am Heathcliff’ as D.H. Lawrence expresses in his book, ‘The Divine Heroine’ that when two people engage in a sexual relationship they became, ‘two in one’; the same person. If Edgar Linton believed that Catherine was not chaste, it is likely he would not have married her in conformation with the Victorian society’s norms.

Ultimately, it is Catherine’s intense love for Heathcliff that sets her apart from a typical Victorian woman; their love defies the status quo and is a faux- pas in the elitist attitude of the Victorian mind. This is because Heathcliff is not from wealth, in fact, he is the opposite; he was a poor beggar who was lifted from the streets and is now a servant. During this era, a woman married only for money and for social-class and their suitor was often chosen by their fathers or brothers if the former was deceased. This is evident in ‘Wuthering Heights’ as although, he doesn’t choose Linton for his sister, Hindley does wish that she will marry him and therefore gives his permission. It is in this sense that Catherine is a typical Victorian woman; she explains to Ellen Dean that, ‘My love for Linton is like foliage in the woods, time will change it, I'm well aware… My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath’, even though she knows her love for Linton will change and compares not to her love for Heathcliff, she marries him anyway for his money and for her inevitable heightened social class, ‘I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood’.

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Victorian women were to be weaker than their husbands physically, but morally, they were expected to excel, surpassing the morality of their counter-parts. Again, this is an area in which Catherine’s typical modern woman attributes outweigh those of the typical Victorian woman. A moral Victorian woman is to speak kindly to all she communicates with and refrain from violence at all times. Catherine clearly defies these expectations often speaking violently to her maid Nelly, ‘you lying creature’ and exhibiting physical violence toward her also, she ‘snatched the cloth from my hand, and pinched me, with a prolonged wrench’. In addition ...

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