Cathy as a feminist

Topics: Femininity, Feminism, Victorian era Pages: 2 (733 words) Published: April 27, 2014
Discuss the presentation of Cathy in the novel. To what extent does she conform to the nineteenth century ideal of femininity. Cathy is presented in the novel as a very wild character from a very young age. She has a wild, passionate character and this is evident from the start. She is said to have been ‘hardly six years old but she could ride any horse in the stable and chose a whip.’ This is very challenging of Victorian ideals of femininity at that time. In Victorian society young girls where expected to be taught separately, in different ‘spheres’ from men and in things like how to keep a home. She has taken an interest in such a thing, rather than reading or playing an instrument as would have been the norm, from an early age indicates her wildness. The very fact that Cathy has chosen a whip for a present from her father also hints at her capacity for cruelty. This would have challenged nineteenth century ideals of femininity. Cathy‘s wild and unladylike nature is expressed and reinforced many times through – out the novel. This is most evident when she first encounters Heathcliff and discovers he is the reason for her whip being lost ‘… showed her humour by grinning and spitting on the stupid little thing’. Even by today’s standards this behaviour would be termed as callous and unladylike therefore we see that Cathy does not conform to feminism. Cathy’s very close relationship with Heathcliff would also have been seen as subversive of feminine qualities. Again, this challenges the idea of ‘spheres’ where girls and boys where to be reared and educated separately, in different spheres under the same roof. ‘She was much too fond of Heathcliff. The greatest punishment we could invent for her was to keep her separate from him’ here we see Cathy challenging another idea of femininity. She has allied herself with Heathcliff, a wild character like herself but also an outsider. By associating herself with him she makes herself an outsider, as well as disregarding...
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