During the Victorian era, women were viewed as the very opposite of what a man ought to be. In the words of John Stuart Mill, who published a criticism of the way society differentiated between males and females “The female sex was brought up to believe that its ‘ideal of character’ was the very opposite to that of men’s ‘not self-will , and government by self-control, but submission, and yielding to the control of others…to live for others; to make complete abnegation of themselves, and to have no life but in their affections.’” (171) Basically, women were expected to be sweet, docile, and man’s perfect helpmate.
Contrary to that belief, throughout the Victorian era the view of women began to change, at least in the mind of some. Women began to infiltrate themselves into the industrial world. One field that became increasingly dominated by women during the Victorian era was the world of writing. Many women were published during this century, although only a small number have been “canonized” or truly recognized as literature. The four most popular are doubtlessly the three Brontë sisters, and George Eliot. These authors were perhaps popular because of their subject matter, or perhaps because their works were analyzed and criticized from the beginning, whereas no attention was paid to the remainder.
These above mentioned notable authors often wrote about women in their traditional, and also non-traditional Victorian roles. Charlotte Brontë, for example, reflected the proper, meek demeanor in Jane Eyre, not only with Jane herself. Jane was the very contradiction of Mr. Rochester. Even when he is at his worst, during the final chapters, Jane takes it upon herself to care for him without thought of herself, and to be his traditional Victorian bride.
Emily Brontë on the other hand, abandoned the norm with her great work Wuthering Heights. The heroine, Cathy, is the very essence of an unconventional Victorian woman.
Cathy is wild, undisciplined, rowdy, and...
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