The Self-Willed Women in Wuthering Heights

While continuing to read Wuthering Heights, we continue to see how strong-willed and passionate Emily Bronte has written her female characters. The women of the novel continue to act according to their own interests and not according to how their father or husband want them to.

As we saw in the first several chapters, Catherine Earnshaw was free-spirited and acted the way she wanted to growing up and playing with Heathcliff. As she grows older and marries Edgar Linton she continues to act according to what she wants by seeing Heathcliff when he returns despite Edgar being against this.

Like her mother, Cathy Linton also goes against Edgar’s wishes. He is very protective over Cathy and doesn’t want her to leave their property however she does so anyway and eventually comes across the place and people that her father was protecting her from at Wuthering Heights. As the story goes on she continues to go to Wuthering Heights and meets with Linton Heathcliff in secret despite her father not wanting her to have any relations with the Heathcliffs.

The way in which Catherine and Cathy act against others’ wishes and do what they wish reminded me of what Harriet Martineau discusses in her essay Society in America. When referencing James Mill saying that “women may be regarded, the interest of almost all of whom is involved, either in that of their fathers or in that of their husbands.”, she says that “the interests of women who have fathers and husbands can never be identical with theirs”.

Although in the case of Wuthering Heights it isn’t necessarily political interests that Catherine and Cathy are differing from Edgar, it still shows that women don’t have to think or do exactly as their fathers or husbands want them to and can act independently according to what they want to do for themselves.

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