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Gender Studies in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights

Gender Studies in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights

Gender played an important role in the style of writing known as “Gothic”. Traditional stereotypes were often broken. Men were not always portrayed as dominant, strong, rational or masculine. Likewise, women were not always portrayed as weak, submissive, irrational, or feminine. This essay will take a look at the relationship between Catherine and Edgar Linton in Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights. We will take a look at how their characters are portrayed, how this affected their marriage, and how each character retained some of the traits attributed to their gender.

Catherine’s character will be examined first, since she is one of the main characters in the book. Catherine was not your typical sweet, caring, angelic little girl. Ellen describes her by saying, “Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going–singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the same. A wild, wicked slip she was-” (p.32), and, ” In play, she liked, exceedingly, to act the little mistress; using her hands freely, and commanding her companions: she did so to me, but I would not bear slapping and ordering; so I let her know.”(p.33). From these two descriptions of Catherine, it seems she was always testing her limits, not at all submissive. Even as a child she had a strong mind that would not easily be swayed. It is obvious that Catherine was dominant and even domineering, an example of this would be the way she continually ordered her playmates around and by resorting to physical abuse to get them to do what she wanted them to do. Later in the book Catherine described herself as a child by saying she was “half savage, and hardy, and free”(p.97).

Edgar’s chi…

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…ar gave up his judicial office, stopped attending church, and did not go anywhere anymore. So he assumed the wife’s role by staying home and raising his child, and that was Catherine’s final show of dominance.

Edgar and Catherine had a complex relationship. Each went into the marriage for different reasons. Edgar thought he loved her but only loved an idealized version of her, and Catherine married him to help the man she truly loved, Heathcliff. He thought she was perfect, she thought he was weak and easy to control. Eventually, these idealizations faded away. Throughout their relationship, Catherine and Edgar switched gender roles. While they did switch roles, each one managed to keep traits that were attributed to their own gender at that time.

Works Cited:

Berg, Maggie. Wuthering Heights: The Writings in the Margin. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996.

Formal Analysis of Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown

A Formal Analysis of Young Goodman Brown

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is an interesting short story that creatively tells two stories at once. One story is of a man leaving his wife one night and venturing into the woods, and the other is of his struggle with his religious faith. In reading this story, it is beneficial for one to look at it from a formalistic point of view. Formal analysis makes the reader look closely at how a story is written to see its deeper meaning. Hawthorne takes advantage of careful word choice and images to create a picture of one man’s journey that can easily parallel our own.

The word choice of every story plays a key role in understanding the story. In “Young Goodman Brown” almost every word contains a special meaning. The title Hawthorne gives to his story is simple and informative; it tells the reader right away that the focus of the story is a young man. The use of the name Brown is also significant. The name is universal so that it can relate to anyone (Rhetoric 102L class discussion, January 15 2001). The fact that his title is Goodman, instead of Mister, suggests that it took place around colonial times. The name of his wife, Faith, is a clue held in the opening paragraph of the text that gives the reader and idea of what the story is about. Though out the story Goodman Brown says phrases such as, “Faith kept me back a while,” which on the surface looks as though he is talking about his wife; however just below the surface he is talking about how his faith in God that kept him from heading towards the Devil. (HCAL 376). Caref…

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…odman Brown goes is also significant. The Puritans believed that the witches and even the Devil lived in the woods, which can be a hint foreshadowing what Goodman Brown will find in the forest.

“Young Goodman Brown” is full of carefully selected words. Each place, item, and name described is significant to the story. The word, faith, has two functions, a name and a belief. Images such as the pink ribbons and the staff are useful for more than their everyday function. Hawthorne knows the power of words and chooses wisely, thus creating a story that, when looked at beyond the surface, has a completely new meaning.

– (Guerin, Wilfered; Labor, Earle; Morgan, Lee; Reesman, Jeanne; Willingham, John, A Handbook of Critical Appraches to Literature, New York, Oxford University Press, 1999.)

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