Hard Times and Wuthering Heights

2280 Words10 Pages
The nineteenth century saw rapid development and reform across the whole of the country; with the Industrial Revolution transforming life in Britain. For working class women life was an endless struggle of passivity and labour; as soon as they were old enough they worked on farms, in factories or as servants to the middle classes (Lambert, 2009). For women in general, life was oppressive; constantly overshadowed by the male gender who were considered dominant leaders. In a Victorian household, the male was head of the family; his wife and children respected him and obeyed him without question. This critical analysis of two nineteenth century novels - Hard Times by Charles Dickens and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, will discuss the representation of the two female protagonists in the context of the Victorian period and question whether they do indeed portray an endless struggle for survival and independence. When considering representation, the ways in which the authors choose to portray their characters can have a great impact on their accessibility. A firm character basis is the foundation for any believable novel. It is arguable that for an allegorical novel - in which Hard Times takes its structure, Dickens uses an unusually complex character basis. The characters in Hard Times combine both the simplistic characteristics of a character developed for allegorical purposes, as well as the concise qualities of ‘real’ people (McLucas, 1995). These characters are portrayed to think and feel like we as readers do and react to their situations in the same way that most of us would. Such attributes are what give the characters life and allow us to relate to their decisions. In Hard Times Charles Dickens portrays Louisa Gradgrind... ... middle of paper ... ...rd Times and Brontë in Wuthering Heights represent their protagonists as struggling to overcome oppression in order to survive as independent females. The struggles faced by the females provide similarities as well as contrasts to their literary counterparts. On one hand you have Louisa, corrupted by her father and never allowed to imagine or be free; and on the other hand you have Catherine, corrupted by her own aspirations and social constraints. Although Catherine does - for a short period of time, achieve some independence, she is destined to retain her traditional role of passive and dependent female; thus inevitably losing in her struggles. In contrast, Louisa faces similar struggles in the fight for the survival of her inquisitive mind; but she ultimately wins her battle against her ‘fact-loving’ father and in doing so, establishes herself as an individual.
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