By: Sarita Pantha
Bronte’s Wuthering Heights wanted to tackle the issue of female problem through the mouth piece of Catherine and this novel considered to the age of Victorian period and in this period the rise of the novel as a genre is closely linked to the rise of women as writers of novels. The form and conventions of novel writing were largely shaped by these women writers and the socioeconomic conditions they were negotiating.
Wuthering Heights mainly focuses on the racial discrimination and problem of contemporary society through the eyes of two different narrator Nelly Dean itself a female and Lockwood as well. Victorian period had due respect toward male oriented society and family relations. It does have the quite good effect of patriarchal society. M. H. Abrams in his A Glossary Of Literary Terms says:
Patriarchal is the basic view of western civilization- that is it is male-centred and controlled is organized and conducted in such a way as to subordinate women to men in all cultural domains: familial, religious, political, economic, social, legal and artistic. (94)
The novel considered with the Victorian period, in Victorian period, women were treated as inferior human beings. Such a belief was so deep rooted in the Victorian society that even doctors and physicians believed that women’s physically affected their mentality. According to them, women’s physiological function was very complicated. Because of this complication twenty percent their creative power is diverted from brain activity. In other words women in Victorian era were supported to have twenty percent less mental creativity then man had.
Wuthering Heights is very imagery novel, while reading novel we can see vivid images of that so called male society who dominated female. Heathcliff as a man protagonist of the novel, encounter with different situation some where with revenge, love and harted. Heathcliff was adapted by Mr .Earnshaw is the early age of his life at Liverpool and take both lodging and fooding at one roof of Earnshaw family but Earnshawn’s son Hindley detest him. Earnshaw had two children named Hindley and Catherine. Catherine at first hate Heathcliff but after few months she is in love with him but Catherine does not accept him as her husband. The whole story walks with Catherine and Heathcliff past event told through the voice of Nelly Dean.
On the surface, the novel is the history of two families which crisscross in many complex ways over three generations. What makes the novel unique however is that along with being a chronological narrative, it becomes a story of elemental forces at work. This is primarily achieved by the narrative technique, the delineation of character and the language used .Virginia Woolf, writing in the first part of the twentieth century, describes the novel thus Wuthering Heights is not about the love of men and women. Emily was inspired by some moral general conception …. The impulse which urged her to create was not her own suffering in or her own injuries .She looked out upon a world cleft in to gigantic disorder and felt with in her power to unite it in a book. It is this suggestion of power underlying…. That gives the book its huge stature among other novels.
In the patriarchal society women ought to speak as permitted by male. According to patriarchal thought, Society is supposed to be created by male than selves. In the novel Wuthering Heights also female’s attitude toward society was shaped by so called male society. In the both families Catherine and Isabella were victimized by male. Women are always suppressed by the male counterparts. They even deprived of power so in Wuthering Heights Catherine’s longing for power can be seen in different scenes. Firstly when Mr. Earnshaw asked her what he would bring her when he returned from Liverpool… “What shall I bring you? You may choose what you like what you like. Only let it be little, for I shall walk there and back, sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!” Hindley named a fiddle and then he asked Miss Cathy; she was hardly six years old, but se could ride any horse in he stable and choose a whip” (Chap. 14).
Catherine was not sure who she actually was. Calling herself as a pet, Catherine expressed her wish to escape from domestic encloser. Later in her madness she tore the pillow with her teeth. Tearing the pillow and letting the feathers go free seem to be very meaningful. Being a girl belonging to farming culture Catherine always wants to have a better life. That’s why she married Edgar Linton instead of Heathcliff. Catherine rejected Heathcliff as a husband because he was socially and economically inferior to Linton.
In Victorian period, women have to follow the rules, values and institutions that were established to favour men. But right from her childhood Catherine challenges all these values, institutions and even relationships. Catherine tries to lead two lives. She hopes to require authenticity with social conventions, running in harness an anthological commitment to Heathcliff with a phenomenal relationship to Linton. She says ‘I am Heathcliff but rejects him and marries Linton. To lead a two life was surely a great challenge to the values, the values set by the male society.
Marriage is one of the most important social rite and rituals till date. Before deciding to marry someone one should take the suggestions from guardians in the Victorian era. However Catherine goes to opposite of the old tradition and decides to marry Edgar on her own. But she is not sure whether she made a good decision or not. So she asked Nelly Dean whether her choice was right or wrong. As we can she in chapter 9 as “Today, Edgar Linton asked me to marry him, and I have given him an answer.---” I accepted him , Nelly. Be quick, and say whether I was wrong!”
Wuthering Heights is fully of imageries from which we can see the clear picture of contemporary male dominated society where female can not get rights of education, health, marriage etc. They should think about their family and children. In the novel female are victimized in the case of love, marriage, revenge and detest. There is no doubt that Heathcliff loves Catherine but the passionate love brings massive destruction in the novel. Catherine died after giving the birth of younger Catherine and Frances also died after giving birth of Hereton. From this we can conclude that in Victorian Era a woman are treated as the machine to produce the baby but does not care about their health condition.
In the names of revenge Heathcliff also treat a bad behaviour toward Isabella and she escape from these torture and does not come back to Heathcliff. After the death of both father and mother of young Catherine, Heathcliff keep her in his home and treated badly. Heathcliff’s mind was full of revenge for Edgar and Isabella because in the early age of his childhood they treated them as slaves. They ignore and does not give permission even enter in their house.
In conclusion, female knows female sufferings very well. The writer herself is a female. She may also face the problem of contemporary society in her writings. She is from Victorian Era; this period is highly influenced by male dominated society. In the novel male dominated the female can not get rights of education, health, marriage. Before deciding to to anything which is accordance with owns life someone one should take the suggestions from guardians. Women have to follow the rules, values and institutions that were established to favour men. Challenging all these values, institutions and even relationships is a tough job at that period. Patriarchal is the basic view that is it is male-centred and controlled is organized and conducted in such a way as to subordinate women to men in all cultural domains: familial, religious, political, economic, social, legal and artistic.