In Gothic Literature Women Are Often Portrayed As Characters That Actively Resist Their Victorian Gender Stereotypes Essay

Submitted By tedreeves
Words: 625
Pages: 3

In gothic literature women are often portrayed as characters that actively resist their Victorian gender stereotypes. Many of these characters go through emotional changes throughout their respective stories that can harness and suppress these emotional, unconventional characteristics.
Catherine Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights is the perfect example of a woman who embodies the gothic spirit and does not conform to what was generally expected of Victorian society. Although she can be seen merely as the story’s romantic interest she is also a persecuted woman. Bronte places her in a typical conflict situation; similar to many gothic texts, between a dark seducer, Heathcliff, and a fair lover, Edgar.
Cathy’s “wild vindictiveness” seems to shine because of this, seeing as she would rather be off rambling the moors with Heathcliff rather than sitting inside reading or sewing. Bronte makes clear that at the young age of fifteen Cathy was “queen of the countryside”, although this may not seem altogether wild, as the term “queen” does seem particularly formal, it does eradicate any notion of conforming to the particular activities that women would have been expected to partake in. On the other hand Bronte also demonstrates that Cathy’s wild behaviour can be cultivated into the Victorian expectation so perhaps gothic women are not always wild and unconventional. Cathy returns from Thrushcross Grange as “a very dignified person” according to Bronte, implying the cultivating effects that being amongst proper Victorian conformers can have. Despite this, Bronte also makes clear that although Cathy marries Edgar, a traditional husband who fits perfectly in the Victorian society, Cathy remains true to her wildness and unconventional nature. The idea that “it was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honey suckles embracing the thorn” exercises this perfectly. If the Linton’s are indeed a representation of the upper class, traditional Victorian family then the term “honeysuckle” suggests they are weak and limp, while Cathy is sharp and strong. On the other hand the metaphor also implies that the Linton’s are sweet and are kindly embracing the difficult and rather unpleasant Catherine into their lives. Bronte also manages to show that through Cathy’s marriage to Edgar she becomes more wild, gothic and unconventional than ever before and describes Cathy’s emotions as a “maniacs fury that kindles under her brow”, which also suggests the horrific effects that marriage can have on a young woman.
Although by definition Northanger Abbey is a parody of gothic texts there is