Fighting Back Against the Encroachment of Patriarchal Power on Female Domains in Wuthering Heights

Banu Akcesme


Wuthering Heights can be read as a novel of warfare against women and women-associated spaces to be conquered to prove male superiority, authority and power. This paper aims to discuss how Emily Bronte challenged not only the established Victorian literary traditions but also the prevailing ideals of the Victorian society by subverting the hierarchically constructed power and gender relations with an emphasis on various strategies employed by Heathcliff and Edgar in the war they launch against nature, property and women to conquer, possess and control domestic households, external nature and female body. Their strategies include reductionism which includes the commodification and objectification of female body, separation of women from their female bond, family and female spaces, physical and emotional uprooting which causes the loss of independence, self-confidence and positive self-image, masculinization of nature and home, brutalization through which the female characters are exposed to male violence and oppression and destruction of a sense of security, commitment and resistance. The female characters are disconnected not only from their domestic households and nature but also from female bonds. The sense of placelessness and homelessness along with the lack of female solidarity is aggravated by transforming home and the natural world into an imprisoning, dominating and tyrannical web for women. Bronte ends the novel with a hope that subjugation and subordination does not have to be the inevitable destiny for women who can fight back to restructure the existing power relations and reclaim their bodies and home along with nature turned against them. 



Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, Victorian Fiction, nature, liberation of women

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