Wuthering Heights and Feminism Essay

400 Words2 Pages
How far does the feminist critical view help us understand the choices made by the female characters in Wuthering Heights? A feminist is one who publicly supports women’s rights on a political, social and economic basis. There are many big decisions made in Wuthering Heights, such as; Catherine’s decision to marry Edgar, Nelly’s decision to become educated, and Isabella’s decision to flee from Heathcliff. All of these can be looked at by feminist critiques. It can be argued to what extent they conform or break away from the idea of feminism. Female characters in Wuthering Heights are strengthened and adopt masculine qualities. It is not necessary for the male characters to reduce in power for gender equality, but rather the female become more empowered. The eighteenth century was seen as the “Age of Enlightenment” during this; many philosophers stepped forward and spoke about the treatment of women. Mary Wollstonecraft was the first feminist philosopher. Her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is now seen as the foundation of the feminist view. The idea of feminism was introduced long before Wuthering Heights was written, this allows us to view the decisions made by the female characters under patriarchal dominance. Women’s rights barely existed in this century but, in Wuthering Heights we see the female characters become more liberated. Each of the female characters makes some link to feminism. They make certain choices that can be looked at in a feminist perspective to help us understand why they made these choices. Firstly, women were expected to marry a man with wealth, a high social status and good looks. Catherine says “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff”. Here, she unambiguously opposes the feminist view of which women were expected to marry and obey the patriarchal society. She chooses the wealthier, better looking, and more socially

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