May 4, 2015 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Charlotte Brontë describes Heathcliff as a “man’s shape animated by demon life – a ghoul”

Emily Brontë uses both Heathcliff’s actions and the main narrator’s [Nelly] to depict the protagonist as a “man’s shape animated by demon life”. upon her revealing how Heathcliff came to inhabit Wuthering Heights, Nelly states that it appeared as if he “came from the devil”. Being the most evil creature in existence – according to the bible – this association with Heathcliff begins the demonisation of his character from a young age. This character attachment continues on to his final days when Nelly describes Heathcliff as “ghastly” pale and possessing “deep black eyes”. This “paleness” allows Brontë to compare her protagonist with a vampire – which sucks the blood of others in order to survive. Heathcliff’s cruel behaviour towards characters such as Cathy and Linton further this relation; he drains the lives of those around him in order to sustain his own goals – mainly the destruction of the Linton family and Thrushcross Grange. The depth of Heathcliff’s “black” eyes implies a supernatural quality, making the reader question just how deep he could see. The insinuation that Heathcliff could see into the depth of Nelly’s soul allows Brontë to further present him animating by “demon life”.

Mar 25, 2015 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

How do the authors use symbolism in Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey to show the conflict between social female identity and the protagonist’s desire to rebel against this?

Anne and Charlotte Brontë both make use of symbols through their novels, Agnes Grey and Jane Eyre (respectively) as didactic works to illustrate the Victorian Society about the (then) current way in which women were viewed and treated. The conflict between the protagonists and the social female identity of the time only further proves this. Agnes’s opinion of herself is evidently low by the way she finds it all too realistic that Mr Weston ‘never thought’ of her. She seems to deem this opinion largely on the fact that she can ‘discover no beauty’ (her only description of her own appearance) in her face, thus showing the internalisation of social values. Her desire to rebel against the identity society had placed on her gender is evident when she doesn’t allow this fact to stop her, questioning the ethics of said culture by describing the alternative as ‘dreary’.

Anne Brontë creates a sense of oppression for the protagonist veiled under the guise of protection through Agnes’s family. It is clear that Agnes comes from a very loving family by the way ‘No one triumphed’ over her so called inability to keep her first governess position, but instead were happy to have her back again. When she expresses her desire for independence, Agnes is met with the question: ‘what would you do in a house full of strangers without us to speak and act for you?’ The conflict Anne Brontë presents of both love and oppression of Agnes within the Grey family reflects social views that women were helpless and dependant creatures, The fact that the people Anne Brontë uses to reflect this view are women shows just how deeply ingrained into society these negative views on females were. Brontë encourages social change and the equality of the genders through Agnes’s rebellion against these limitations (lack of opportunities) by her determination and eventual succession in becoming a governess. Despite this, Agnes still remains dependent upon others throughout the remainder of the novel, therefore Brontë is exhibiting the extent of society’s reach, alluding to the difficulty of defying it.

The author uses weather as a symbol of hope within Agnes Grey. When leaving home for the first time the protagonist describes the sun as a ‘wondering beam’. This symbol portrays the hope Agnes had to become enlightened and her own independent woman in society when embarking on her journey. In contrast to this she also states that the ‘sunshine was departing’, a reference to the power of social formalities. In support of this, the character of Mr Weston – Agnes’ husband by the conclusion – is used as a symbol of encouragement for the social norms, to a certain extent. In many religions and cultures the West is seen as a way to enlightenment, through word play Anne Brontë is able to indicate that Agnes’ marriage to Mr Weston is Agnes’ journey to enlightenment. The author uses these contrasting instances to show the conflict between social female identity and Agnes’ desire to rebel and be independent.

The social ambition of characters, or lack of, is used as a symbol to rebel against social commitments. The novel begins with a brief account of the protagonist’s parents and some of the issues they’ve encountered together. Agnes’ mother is from a wealthy family, whereas her father is not. Mrs Grey defies social norms by marrying Mr Grey regardless of his standing within society, despite forfeiting ‘every fraction of her fortune.’ Brontë uses this lack of social ambition to display the benefits of challenging society’s normal values. Additionally to this, Rosalie Murray, one of Agnes’ students, marries Sir Thomas Ashby for his wealth, estate and title. Merely one year (or less) after her marriage Rosalie, when speaking about her husband, states ‘I detest that man’, a sentiment she very much feels for her mother-in-law as well. This sacrifice of happiness for social elevation allows the author to reflect the effects of current social obligations.

In addition to this, Charlotte Brontë reflects social attitudes through the oppression of Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester’s insane wife. Bertha’s confinement is to a small hidden room, behind one of two mentioned ‘black doors’, guarded by Grace Poole. This symbolise a lack of light, and perhaps hope, through the absorption of colour. This may be symbolic of the isolation and lack of freedom of the married Victorian woman, whose identity and possessions became totally her husband’s. The barrier these doors create separates Jane from Bertha. Essentially, keeping both women hidden – one from knowledge and one’s existence from society. This is reflective of the isolation and powerlessness of women within Victorian culture. The fact that Mr Rochester holds the ‘key’ in his hands lends evidence to the stereotypes of Victorian society wherein women, their freedom and identity, were the possession of men. The ‘key’ is a metaphor for the limitations of opportunity for women.  Consolidating this, Bertha’s freedom is completely in the hands of her husband. Further in relation to the doors is the description of them, ‘small black doors’. The small size of the doors is also a metaphor to symbolise even more the lack of opportunities available to women in Victorian culture.

Doors are further used to emphasise the Victorian woman’s lack of power and isolation when Jane, having ran away from Thornfield Hall, is rejected entrance to Moor House by Hannah – in which she ‘clapped the door to and bolted it within’. Jane has found herself in this situation due to her strength of character, a characteristic uncommon and discouraged in women of the time. Through her refusal to be controlled by a man into a situation she doesn’t want Jane has become stranded and on death’s ‘door’, Hannah’s refusal to aid her highlights the isolation of women as Jane is being ‘locked’ out of safety and left to die. This also shows the lack of power women had within society to gain independence, as well as Jane’s desire to rebel against it. Brontë is reflecting upon society’s inequality of the genders, and encouraging a social change.

In many ways Bertha could be seen as a binary opposition of Jane, creating a sense of rebelli0n and oppression. Jane is depicted as pale, sophisticated, small, green eyed and virtuous; describing herself as ‘so little, so pale’, ‘plain’, and ‘puny’. Whereas Bertha is shown as ‘tall and large’, ‘fearful and ghastly’ and ‘purple’ whose ‘lips were swelled and dark’. Jane states that she has ‘green eyes’ – green is the colour of hope, balance and harmony between the head and the heart; perhaps Jane’s eyes act as metaphor for the hope Jane has while trying to gain and maintain her own social identity reflecting her search for equilibrium through the novel. Jane is able to marry Mr Rochester only once she is able to stand on equal ground with him without sacrificing her mind (or dignity) to do so. Brontë uses Jane’s eye colour to imply the benefits for a more equal balance between the genders within society. The colour of Bertha’s ‘bloodshot eyes’ is used as antithesis to this, representing violence and danger, a potential result of inequality within society. On the other hand Bertha could be seen as the embodiment of Jane’s desire for rebellion against her gender limitations. When Jane is worried about her marriage to Mr Rochester, Bertha appears and Jane witnesses her ‘rent’ her bridal veil into ‘two parts’. Jane and bertha could be seen as two sides of the same coin, one showing the effects oppression can have on women (Bertha), and one showing the equality between the genders (Jane). Bertha – the oppressed – eventually, in her madness, jumps from the roof of Thornfield Hall, killing herself. Whereas Jane marries Mr Rochester. Jane states that she is her ‘husband’s life as much as he is’ hers. The difference in these character’s fate by the end of the novel shows the results oppression of women could have, while encouraging social change.

Bertha is used throughout Jane Eyre as a symbol of social attitudes towards the modernising woman. Bertha is continuously demonised, being likened to a ‘goblin’ and a ‘foul German spectre – the Vampyre’. These descriptions are a reflection on women rebelling against the cultural norms of Victorian society. A woman who shows strength and rebellion against the oppression of her husband is considered, by society, as a monster. Jane’s description of Bertha as possessing ‘a discoloured face… red eyes… fearful blackened inflation of the linaments’ only further proves this link. Bertha’s ‘purple’ face is symbolic both of power and the supernatural. This relationship between Bertha and the colours purple and black and depict her as a monster within society, for resisting the oppression of her husband, and reflects the lack of opportunity open to women to gain equal standing with their husbands. The character’s name itself strengthens this link, ‘Bertha’ being a Germanic name associated with the wild hunt – German folk lore. As well as Mason’s connotations with masonry work – stone and brick masons. Bertha is the embodiment of rebellion of women against social norms and functions as a warning, by showing the extreme results that oppression can have.

The ‘red room’, in which Jane is detained after her fight with the young John Reed, her cousin, is a major symbol of isolation.  Jane’s confinement in here represents the obstacles that her independent identity would require her to overcome; the isolation from society being the biggest obstacle. Mrs Reed’s act of ‘abruptly thrust[ing]’ Jane back and locking the door is a reflection on society’s repulsion of equality between the genders. Mrs Reed’s act of thrusting Jane back in, who is pleading for freedom, and ‘locked [Jane] in, without further parlay’ it displays how weak women were within society Jane’s ‘rush to the door’, as well as her act of shaking ‘the lock in desperate effort’ symbolise her rebellion against the social gender norms. The ‘red room’ also represents the isolation and lack of power of the 19th Century woman as well as acting as an omen for the obstacles of which Jane would have to overcome in order to define her own independency.  Brontё is able to effectively show the internalisation of these cultural values. Jane’s fight with John is a metaphor for Jane’s rebellion against the stereotypes of her gender, as women were seen as weak, helpless damsels. Mrs Reed’s later suffering and final demise allows Brontё to emphasise the importance of defiance against Victorian gender values, and highlight the struggle of the modern woman.

Windows are used to portray the bridge between the inside – confinement of the Victorian women – and out – the hope and possibility of freedom. Jane’s desire to rebel against social norms and gain her own freedom was first displayed when, as a child at Gateshead, Jane seeks solace ‘in the window-seat’. Jane’s choice to read – an act used to further one’s education – at the window is a symbol to show the journey of the modernising woman. Jane’s desire to improve herself in a more significant way than visually. The window is the visual barrier between Jane’s oppression by society – within Gateshead – and the potential freedom outside. Charlotte Brontё uses the window-seat to introduce the protagonist’s desire to rebel against the social restrictions placed on her gender by society and to gain her own identity and freedom. Later, during Jane’s stay in the red room she accounts for ‘two large windows’. These windows are a metaphor for Jane’s desire to be free from oppression, Charlotte Brontё uses the size of the windows to emphasise the strength of the protagonist’s desire. Jane then draws attention to the fact that the blinds are ‘always drawn down’. This is Charlotte Brontё commenting on the Victorian society in which women were objects rather than people. Women were property of their parents or other family members until marriage, after which they became the property of their husbands. The author uses Bertha Mason’s room – ‘a without a window’ – to further the representation of male oppression of women within the society. Bertha Mason – Mr Rochester’s insane and arsenic wife – is held captive in a windowless room, hidden within a room locked behind a black door.

In conclusion, both Anne and Charlotte Brontë use symbolism, through characters – such as Agnes, her mother, Bertha and Jane. Settings – for example the ‘red room’ – and objects like Mr Rochester’s ‘key’ and the ‘black doors’ to show the conflict between the social female identity and the protagonist’s desire to rebel against it. These symbols allow the authors to use their novels for didactic purposes. Both authors make use of both warnings against the gender roles placed on them by society and encourage a social change for equality between the genders.


The Symbolism of Windows and Doors in Play Therapy – David A. Crenshaw

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë

Feb 19, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on How does Emily Brontë use the characters of Cathy and Catherine Linton to comment on the social attitude towards women in Victorian England in Wuthering Heights?

How does Emily Brontë use the characters of Cathy and Catherine Linton to comment on the social attitude towards women in Victorian England in Wuthering Heights?

This essay discusses how Emily Brontë uses the characters of Cathy and Catherine to comment on the social attitudes towards women in Victorian England. Brontë uses Catherine as somewhat of a cautionary figure, who largely, but not wholly, conforms to society’s gender norms. Cathy, on the other hand is used as an ideal, she goes through traumatic hardships and is predominantly oppressed, violently even, but nevertheless maintains her independence throughout.

Brontë presents Catherine’s dependency on male characters through her superficial nature. Nelly’s narration reveals that when Catherine is in the company of both men, her loyalties are continuously swayed. “when Heathcliff expressed contempt of Linton, in his presence, she could not half coincide, as she did in his absence” In contrast, Catherine’s ambition is shown when she fails to defend Heathcliff against Linton in order to gain his favour “she dared not treat his sentiments with indifference”. This would suggest that the approval of Linton, and the potential for social elevation, is of more importance than her love for Heathcliff, despite her declaration of her love for Heathcliff, comparing it to “the eternal rocks beneath”. This is reflective of Victorian society as women’s power was very limited to the point where all decisions were made solely by men.
Brontë utilises Catherine as a commentary for the responsibilities placed on women by Victorian society through her social ambition. Through Catherine’s conversation with Nelly in chapter 9 through which Catherine states that she has “no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I [Catherine] have to be in heaven”. In addition to this Catherine’s distress is shown when she claims that “if the wicked man in there [Hindley], had not brought Heathcliff so low … It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now”. This indicates Catherine’s ambition for social elevation holds more importance than her love for Heathcliff, in spite of her announcement of her love for him “resembles the eternal rocks beneath”. The simile “resembles” exhibits the significance of Catherine’s bond with Heathcliff, believing it will last eternally rather than the length of a season. In opposition to this is Catherine’s comparison of her love for Linton as “foliage in the woods”, claiming that she fully knows that “Time will change it… as winter changes the trees”. These metaphors are used by the author to convey natural imagery, emphasising Catherine’s superficial nature and need for social elevation over her love for Heathcliff. By showing the vast difference between Catherine’s feelings for Heathcliff and Linton, Brontë cautions women of following the gender norms that Victorian England’s society had applied to women and encourage the defiance against these gender norms.
Moreover unlike her mother, the character of Cathy is used to symbolise female independence in the novel. During Mr Lockwood’s first visit to Wuthering Heights he attempts to aid Cathy in attempting to reach some canisters which provokes her to respond with;  “I don’t want your help,’ she snapped, ‘I can get them for myself.'” From this Brontë presents Cathy as a shrew, effectively forcing her conformity to gender stereotypes. According to Hans Bertens; “female independence (in the seductress and the shrew) gets a strongly negative connotation”¹. Cathy’s exclamation; “I’ll not do anything, though you should swear your tongue out, except what I please!'”  while “closing her book, and throwing it on a chair” at Heathcliff after being told to clean up continues Brontë’a presentation of Cathy’s conformity. Through assertive language the author uses the character of Cathy to actively encourage the social change of gender norms of women. The shrew is a largely negative gender stereotype of women in literature, usually representing an obstacle to overcome. Katherine from William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of The Shrew’, for example, in which one of the main male characters, Petruchio, makes it his mission to “tame the shrew”.  Shakespeare’s presentation of a shrew eventually conforms to her gender role, while Cathy contrasts this by maintaining her independence throughout the novel, allowing Brontë to encourage social defiance of gender norms for women of Victorian England. Within Victorian England women were seen as belonging to the domestic sphere and were expected to keep a clean house for their husbands, at least by the middle classes. After marriage a women became property of their husbands, and as such when Cathy’s late husband, Linton Heathcliff died and let all his possessions and let all his possessions to his father,became the property of Mr Heathcliff.
Another essential point is the similarities and differences between the characters of Cathy and Catherine. In terms of characteristics, both characters are similarly spoilt by the Lintons; after Catherine’s marriage to Edgar, Nelly comments that “It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.” The “thorn” is representative of Catherine while the “honeysuckles” represent the Lintons, use of this aphorism allows Brontë to represent society’s view of women at the time. “If ever a servant chanced to vex her, it was always: ‘I shall tell papa’… I don’t believe he ever did speak a harsh word to her.” Nelly’s clear analogy regarding Catherine and young Cathy further emphasis this. In contrast to this Catherine is seen as dependent on the attention of male characters; “for when Heathcliff expressed contempt for Linton, in his presence, she could not half coincide, as she did in his absence”. This indicates that Catherine has a superficial nature which relies on male attention. This is further evidenced when “Linton evinced disgust and antipathy to Heathcliff, she dared not treat his sentiments with indifference” Catherine’s dependency at the cost of loyalty to those she supposedly cares for is a representation of the responsibilities of women in Victorian England. Whereas Cathy expresses independence to the aid of a man; “I [Mr Lockwood] made a motion to aid her… ‘I don’t want your help,’ she snapped, ‘I can get them for myself.'” the antithesis of these characters allows the accentuation of their purpose of commentary on social attitudes. Catherine is presented as a caution, while Cathy seems to be an ideal for social change, Brontë makes use of both characters to actively encourage a social change regarding women.

Brontë uses a variety of endings for characters to encourage social change of women, one of which is the sad ending of Catherine; In contrast to this Brontë also makes use of a happy ending regarding the character of Cathy; “as soon as they [Cathy and Hareton] are married; and that will be on New Year’s day.” The use of “New Year’s day” could be interpreted to represent the beginning of a new age regarding gender norms. Throughout the novel Cathy continuously defies gender norms; “the young lady, closing her book, and throwing it on a chair…  I’ll not do anything, though you should swear your tongue out, except what I please!'” Through use of exclamatory punctuation Brontë uses Cathy to symbolise defiance against the gender norms which is further emphasised through her actions. “The flash of her eyes had been succeeded by a dreamy and melancholy softness” The ironic use of the verb “succeeded” reflects Brontë’s attitude towards gender norms in Victorian England as a battle that women must fight against. The adjectives “melancholy” and “softness” add weight to Brontë’s attitudes towards gender norms as Catherine was previously portrayed to be fierce. When Edgar attempts to stop Catherine’s violence against Hareton she turns against him, “In an instant one [of Catherine’s hands] was wrung free, and the astonished young man felt it applied over his own ear in a way that could not be mistaken for jest.” Ironic use of violence by Catherine against Edgar presents a defiance of social attitudes which, Bertens believes, were that women were “helpless and renouncing all ambition”¹, Catherine’s marriage to Linton was based majorly on her ambition to raise her social position and from her acts of violence she was evidently not helpless. In chapter 3 Catherine is used further to reflect the author’s attitudes towards gender roles; “The hand and clung to it, and a most melancholy voice, sobbed, ‘Let me in – let me in’ ‘Who are you?’ ‘Catherine Linton’ it replied shiveringly… ‘I’m come home,I’d lost my way across the moor!'” Through use of the adjective “melancholy” Catherine’s character is presented as being unhappy even after death. Brontë uses the Catherine’s end to reveal the ramifications of following society’s gender norms, encouraging defiance of women against their gender roles.

To conclude, Brontë uses both Catherine and Cathy as commentary on society to great effect. Catherine portrays the Victorian women who conforms to society’s issued gender norms, by marrying Edgar rather than Heathcliff she is forced to choose social elevation over love, and eventually dies as a result. whereas Cathy disobeys gender norms throughout Wuthering Heights, when oppressed by Heathcliff she openly defies him, despite the threat of violence. Through Catherine’s death and Cathy’s birth Brontë is stating that the old ways in which society thought about women must die and give reign to a more equal social view for society’s progression. 


  1. Literary Theory: The Basics (2001 edition)
  2. The feminist reader – Essays in Gender and the politics of Literary Criticism – Edited by Catherine Belsey and Jane Moore (1989)
  3. A brief History of divorce – Cambridge Family Law Practice (2012)
  4. Gender roles in the 19th century (article) – written by Kathryn Hughes (Professor of Lifewriting and Convenor of the MA in Lifewriting at the University of East Anglia)
  5. Wikipedia – women in the Victorian era
  6. The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Feb 18, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on How does Emily Brontë use the characters of Cathy and Catherine Linton to comment on the social attitude towards women in Victorian England in Wuthering Heights?

How does Emily Brontë use the characters of Cathy and Catherine Linton to comment on the social attitude towards women in Victorian England in Wuthering Heights?

Firstly; Catherine’s conversation with Ellen Dean (Nelly) shows a perfect example of how social attitudes would affect the women of the time. In Chapter 9 Catherine (then) Earnshaw forces Nelly into a conversation about her recent decision to marry Edgar Linton rather than Heathcliff. She openly states that she doesn’t truly love Edgar, comparing her affection of him to “foliage in the woods. Time will change it”. this begs the question of why is she marrying him; social responsibility. Catherine is marrying Edgar because society dictates that between him and Heathcliff she must choose Edgar, because his social standing is much higher than Heathcliff’s. Catherine’s reason for marrying Edgar over Heathcliff despite stating that her love for him “resembles the eternal rocks beneath”, is that it would “degrade [her] to marry Heathcliff”, Brontë is using this instance to draw attention to the affects social responsibilities had on women and to question them and to encourage the defiance of women to social norms.

On the contrary; Brontë may be using this example to bring attention to the social ambition that society encouraged in women. Catherine marries Edgar because he can provide her with the opportunity to raise her social status, something marrying Heathcliff would make impossible. Brontë may be commenting on social attitudes towards women in regards to the products of said attitudes; Catherine uses Edgar for her own selfish purposes by marrying him, using Heathcliff’s low place in society as an excuse. It could be argued that her ambition to raise her social position is a sign of independence, which according to the Critical Anthology gains a strongly negative connotation. Brontë may be using this scene to condemn the defiance of women against social norms, Catherine’s

Feb 4, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on How does Emily Brontë use the charactersand dependant of Cathy and Catherine Linton to comment on the social attitude towards women in Victorian England in Wuthering Heights?

How does Emily Brontë use the charactersand dependant of Cathy and Catherine Linton to comment on the social attitude towards women in Victorian England in Wuthering Heights?

Through the characters Catherine Linton and Cathy Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights the author, Emil Brontë, draws attention to the restrictions on women of Victorian England and the repercussions they had; and also goes on to questions the image society had of women. Women of the 19th Century were restricted largely by the separate social spheres of women and men, women existed mainly in the domestic sphere. This domestic sphere portrayed women as morally superior, while physically weaker, than men, and as such were expected to counterbalance the “moral taint” of the public sphere that the men would labour in all day. In Wuthering Heights Brontë reverses these gender roles with the character Catherine Linton. Brontë presents Catherine as a morally undeveloped and selfish woman, and presents her husband, Edgar Linton, as the one to bring morality into the coupling. By swapping the roles of the genders in this instance Brontë is able to question the social views on men and women, showing that genders of the time period were not so black and white.

On the other hand, it is difficult for the character to sympathise with Catherine Linton. In chapter 9 Catherine states that if she marries Edgar she can ” aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother’s [Hindley] reach”. She marries Edgar with the knowledge that she does not truly love him just so as to help Heathcliff. While her intentions for Heathcliff are kind and do show her love for him, her disregard for Edgar’s feelings about this show her inconsiderate and immoral nature. Brontë may be using Catherine as a discouraging example of a woman who defies the social view of women in Victorian England; by killing her later in the story of a self inflicted broken heart Brontë encourages the support of the separate spheres in which the genders of the 19th Century existed in.


Oct 21, 2014 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Feminism in Emma (Jane Austen) 1

Both the characters and the narrator speak of women as possessions – “There was no recovering Miss Taylor”. a reflection of society’s view on women in the 18th & 19th centuries.

“Miss Taylor had begun to influence his schemes” – “The aunt was a capricious woman, and governed her husband entirely” – these two quotes show a reversal of gender roles; the man (at least at that time) was in charge in the relationship, whereas in these two examples it is evident that Austen is putting the women in the powerful positions.

“there was scarcely an evening in the week in which Emma could not make up a card-table for him [Mr Woodhouse]”

The positions of power which Miss Taylor, the aunt and Emma find themselves in would have been considered controversial in the 18th and 19th centuries; the treatment of women in the 1800’s is sometimes compared to a form of slavery – being ‘owned’ by their fathers (or other male relatives – brothers etc) and then by their husbands, and the father was usually offered a dowry in exchange for their daughters hand in marriage.

“enjoyed a most uncommon degree of popularity for a woman neither young, handsome, rich, nor married.” – this reflects upon the shallow view society had towards women at the time (and perhaps to this day), which meant that a woman’s popularity relied heavily, if not wholly, on their looks.

“her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavor to make a small income go as far as possible.” – this comments on the limited job opportunities for women in the 18th and 19th century.

“she was a great talker upon little matters… full of trivial communications and harmless gossip” – a resemblance to the first impression of Mrs Dean in Wuthering Heights, who was assumed to be a provider of idle gossip at first by Mr Lockwood. reflecting society’s view of women’s conversational and intellectual capabilities.

“young ladies for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity… where a reasonable quantity of accomplishments were sold at reasonable price, and where girls might be sent to be out of the way, and scramble themselves into a little education, without any danger of coming back prodigies.” – a comment on the inequality at the time of the education system. the little amount of education that women received (which usually consisted mostly of social protocols), and how they were seen as being in the way.

“somebody had raised her from the condition of scholar to that of parlour boarder.” – a woman to be seen as a specialist of anything intellectual was seen as a “condition”, whereas a woman in the position of parlour boarder (a person who permanently lives with a family, sometimes a pupil) was seen as a positive thing. This is a comment on the inequality of the genders.


Oct 14, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on 2nd book

2nd book

I am now reading Emma, by Jane Austen

Oct 14, 2014 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Wuthering Heights – feminism (further)

I have just finished Wuthering Heights.

Significant events/ characters

Catherine Heathcliff – stands up to Heathcliff when he refuses to let her and Mrs Dean leave The Heights. “‘We will go!’ she repeated, exerting her utmost efforts to cause the iron muscles to relax; and finding that her nails made no impression, she applied her teeth pretty sharply” – this shows her determination despite the fact that Heathcliff is much bigger and stronger than she is.

Linton Heathclif – stereotypical gender role reversal – “‘Oh’ he sobbed, ‘I cannot bear it! Catherine, Catherine, I’m a traitor too, and I dare not tell you! But leave me and I shall be killed!” – the man is stereotypically the hero, saving the damsel in distress, whereas here Catherine Lintion is the one taking the role of hero and Linton is taking the role of damsel in distress.

Linton’s continuous manipulation of Catherine Linton is another another example of the stereotypical woman and man role being inverted. Linton constantly groaning and moaning and even “wail[s] aloud for very pity of himself”.

Isabella Linton is a somewhat minor character in regards to her appearences in the book, but she allows major plot progression. she raises Linton for much of his life singlehandedly, shows strength and intelligence in the length to which she is willing to go to escape Heathcliff. Isabella allows Brontë to challenge the thoughts of women by society, as a woman leaving er husband was something that was very frowned upon in the 1800s.

the stereotypical roles of the genders are challenged by Emily Brontë in Wuthering Heights; both Catherines are self-reliant, determined characters with strong personalities – a characteristic commonly associated with males, whereas characters such as Edgar Linton and Linton Heathcliff possess characteristics stereotypically associated with women.

Oct 7, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Withering Heights – feminism

Withering Heights – feminism

The young Cathy Linton has just visited Wuthering Heights.

Feminist attributes in the book:

– Catherine Linton’s (formerly Earnshaw) fierce and unrelenting nature.

– Cathy Heathcliff’s (formerly Linton) independence and strength to stand up to Heathcliff. – “I’ll put my trash away, because you can make me if I refuse.” Answered the young lady, closing her book, and trowing it on a chair. “But I’ll not do anything, though you should swear your tongue out, except what I please.”

– the  pressure put on woman by society meant that Catherine could never marry Hearhcliff because it would  “degrade” her to marry him.

– Mrs dean is assumed to be a gossip (gender stereotyping) – and is then proved to indeed be a gossip. – stereotyping from both Lockwood and the author.

– Mrs dean is called a “worthy woman” only after she goes to get food for Mr. Lockwood.

– Mrs Earnshaw is referred to as nothing more than “Mrs Earnshaw” and “wife”. – shown as judgemental.

– Mrs Dean cared for the Earnshaw children and described doing so as taking on the “cares of a woman”.

– “she did not yell out” – Catherine’s strength of character when being bitten by a dog is evidenced.

Dec 8, 2013 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Enduring Love, Chapter 20 Revision Guide

Enduring Love, Chapter 20 Revision Guide

The chapter begins with Joe, Clarissa and Jocelyn, Professor Kale, waiting in the police station on Bow Street, in the aftermath of the shooting.

This is the second time Joe’s had to wait in a police station that day.
Bow Street- location of the Bow Street riot, or Battle of Bow Street, in 1919. This riot was ignited because three American soldiers and sailors were arrested for playing dice outside, which was illegal. In this riot a Corporal named Zimmermann was beaten by the police with truncheon because they suspected that he had a gun hidden underneath his coat, which he was supposedly pulling out while addressing the crowd, promising to stop the trouble himself. – This relates to the shooting in the previous chapter, where the assailants ‘wore black coats that gave them a priestly look’ and one ‘drew from his coat a black stick’. – As Corporal Zimmerman was suspected to be doing.
Clarissa, after giving her statement, tells Joe to ‘just tell them what you saw’ and advised him not to ‘go on about your usual stuff.’- suggests Joe’s isolation.

Joe gives his statement to Detective Constable Wallace, declaring he knows that the shooting was a mistaken identity, that the shot was meant for him, and that the unnamed man who saved Tapp’s, the man shot, life, was Parry.

Joe is then asked to stay behind for further help.
Afterwards, when Joe is questioned again, Wallace states that he suspects that the shooting was due to Tapp’s position as undersecretary of state at the department of trade and industry, stating. ‘There was an attempt on Mr Tapp’s life eighteen months ago’.

Joe states his feelings of ‘isolation and vulnerability.’
The only help the police provide Joe is a suggestion to take Prozac, antidepressants.

Joe arrives at his apartment building, fighting paranoia; ‘He wasn’t in his usual place’.
Joe references Bruckner, hearing it coming from the apartment downstairs.
Anton Bruckner- an Austrian composer in the 19th century, known for his symphonies, masses ad motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German romanticism. Link to Keats. Rich in harmonic language- this is ironic; Bruckner’s compositions were rich in harmonic language whereas Joe and Clarissa’s harmonic equilibrium is ‘all over’.
The Bruckner Problem- this term refers to the difficulties and complications resulting from the contrasting versions and editions that exist for most of his symphonies. This could symbolise the contrast in Joe and Clarissa’s opinion over the Parry situation.

Joe arrives home to find that Clarissa is asleep, leaving a note saying. ‘Dead tired. Talk to you in the morning. Love, Clarissa.’ Joe tries to seek meaning out of Clarissa’s use of an uppercase ‘L’ in her letter.
Joe decides to look through an address book in the hopes of finding someone with illegal ties, an act of desperation.
Joe repeats the word ‘Doomsday’ with an uppercase ‘D’, this may be an attempt to emphasise the word, suggesting Joe feels helpless, like his word is crumbling.

After finding Johnny B. Well, Joe requests Johnny help him acquire a gun. This is an example of Roland Barthes’ action code.

Throughout the chapter Joe’s desperation and loneliness in this situation is a central point.

‘I felt my isolation and vulnerability’ – pg 177

‘I was on my own.’ – pg 175

McEwan uses the references, Bow Street and Bruckner, to emphasise Joe’s feelings of isolation. – Bow street to show the lack of effective help from the police. And Bruckner to emphasise the clash of opinion with Clarissa, which both contribute to Joe’s desperation.

However, Joe’s narrative has previously been questionable; therefore his narrative in this chapter can also be questioned. Joe may be putting extra emphasis on certain aspects, while understating others. Joe’s attempt to draw extra meaning from Clarissa’s letter shows Joe’s desperation, or possibly paranoia, it shows a similarity to Parry.

McEwan uses a mixture of sentence structures, short, sharp sentences, ‘I was on my own.’ And complex sentences, ‘The waters would close over her head, her friends would feel sorrow and then recover, a little wiser, and the unrecorded workdays, parties and dinners would tumble onwards.’ In this quote Joe is explaining his feeling of isolation by referring to a friend of his who was wrongly diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The number two is referenced, coincidently, twice in the chapter; this may be symbolic of the phrase ‘two against the world.’ Or perhaps referring to binaries, which are opposition of two concepts, i.e. war and peace. In this case it is used to emphasise Joe’s isolation.


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