What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about Victorian literature this semester?

When I started out, I knew next-to-nothing about Victorian Literature. Sure, I had read Great Expectations back in high school, but you can’t depend on one novel to represent an entire genre. I think I anticipated Victorian literature to be a lot more fluttery and romance-based than it turned out to be. Wuthering Heights definitely had darker and spookier moments than I expected to read, but I liked it. I guess I didn’t expect to enjoy what I was reading as much as I did. I suppose the characterization of women in Victorian times was what I found to be the most interesting, or rather what I kept going back to. Specifically, the Catherines, Isabella, and Estella in particular, the characteristics you would assume for them to possess on a surface level versus what you found when you took a deeper look made them all quite fascinating. Isabella Linton’s entire character arc from the naïve girl to a woman who escapes from abuse was one of the more underrated and complex parts of Wuthering Heights. As for Estella, how she was manipulated by Miss Havisham to execute her revenge while balancing her own autonomy or lack thereof, while it wasn’t discusses much in our class, I can remember back to my high school debates on how much agency she had over herself or whether she was fully under Miss Havisham’s direct or indirect control. Overall, how characters are composed and interact with each other usually interests me, but specifically the female characters in these two novels read this semester, intrigued me.

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