Literature – WH and TSS – Femininity and Masculinity

This is a shorter one again so enjoy the ease 🙂


Femininity and Masculinity

At the time Wuthering Heights was written in, gender roles were much more ridged. Wuthering Heights, written by a woman, makes a lot of stereotype examinations and turns them on their heads. Emily Brontë constantly contrasting masculinity and femininity, but not all of the comparisons are simple; sometimes boys act like girls and girls act like boys. Edgar Linton and Linton Heathcliff, for instance, are men, but Brontë frequently describes them as having the looks and attributes of women, by which she means the desired stereotypes. Likewise, Catherine Earnshaw has many masculine characteristics; even though she is outrageously beautiful, she loves rough, outdoor play and can hold her own in any fight. She is a complex mix of hyper-feminine grace and loveliness and ultra-masculine anger and recklessness. Heathcliff, with his physical and mental toughness, has no such ambiguities—he is exaggeratedly masculine and scorns his wife Isabella for her overblown femininity.

Emily Brontë seems to favour masculinity over femininity, even in her women. In general, she portrays weak, delicate characters with contempt, while she treats strong and rugged characters like Heathcliff, both Catherine’s, and Hareton, with compassion and admiration, despite their flaws.

In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Laila and Mariam live through a rough period for women’s rights in Afghanistan. They’re controlled by the government, treated as property by their husbands, and forbidden from taking part in society. Yet, through their strength and resilience, the two women are able to overcome these obstacles. The struggle includes a ‘male’ brutish resilience and no delicate senses, which is the point. They survive Rasheed and get away, raise two kids who eventually seem to come out alright, get a new life and feel good about what they achieved. They’re incredibly tough women trying to take control of their own lives. Men are often overly stereotyped as brutish and nasty, very controlling and restrictive of their wives. Babi is mocked by Rasheed for his gentler ways, which is the feminine side of men being portrayed. Babi raised Laila as a strong woman, who had a place in society and would do something in the world – Mariam is the complete contrast. She has to fight to make herself a mother and make a vague place for herself as she was raised as a nobody that no one would ever want. But at the times as which the women where children, this was normal. When they are adults, they are repressed, making Laila’s life much more difficult than Mariam’s since she was used to being hidden away. However, the advice Nana gives to Mariam doesn’t seem true. Nana is basing this off of what she knows – her first love leaving, Jalil and her father leaving. But Babi is blamed, not Mammy, for their sons leaving, and Tariq is a very loving man, proving that not all men will do this.


Hope you enjoyed, have a good day and remember to comment anything you think would be useful.

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