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Feral women: Female characters in Wuthering Heights, The Moonstone, and Hard Times

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  1. The trapped heroines: Catherine and Louisa.
  2. The exiles: Sissy and Rosanna.
  3. The public servants: Nelly and Rachael.
  4. The scapegoats: Isabella and Rachel.
  5. Conclusion.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, women had no place within the pages of fiction. Indeed, men were usually the sole creators of literature; women, on the other hand, were silent (those few women who did choose to write were often forced to use a male pseudonym in order to be taken seriously). Oppressed and restricted, females -- in reality as well as literature -- were unable to find themselves due to the limited options given to them. Although many writers attempted to portray female characters, the women's roles were usually insignificant and unrealistic. Furthermore, until the mid-twentieth century, the women in most literature were quiet, weak, and dependent upon others in order to survive. However, several writers were able to accurately portray the plight of women during the time of their writing. Emily Bronte, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens are three significant authors who managed to overcome the preconceived stereotypes of women. Indeed, several of the female characters in Wuthering Heights, The Moonstone, and Hard Times prove to be strong, resilient women. Yet despite these qualities, the female characters are nevertheless trapped in a world that does not respect them; therefore, they often succumb to the pressures of society.

[...] Even the most captured woman guards the place of the wildish self, for she knows intuitively that someday there will be a loophole, an aperture, a chance, and she will hightail it to escape.? -Clarissa Pinkola Estes The character of Louisa in Charles Dickens' novel Hard Times is also pressured to marry someone she does not love. Louisa is a true product of her environment; she longs to wonder, but has been taught not to and, therefore, she does not. [...]

[...] Then red is the color of blood-loss rather than blood- life.? -Clarissa Pinkola Estes The character of Isabella in Wuthering Heights is not a major one; her voice is primarily heard through her letters to her brother and Nelly. However, Isabella's role in the novel is nonetheless very important. When the reader first encounters Isabella as a child, she is seen as an over privileged little monster. However, according to David Galef in his article, ?Keeping One's Distance: Irony and Doubling in Wuthering Heights,? Isabella develops more than any other character in the novel: development] is most discernible in her changing attitude toward Heathcliff . [...]

[...] Indeed, even Sissy's fate is different from the other female characters in the novel. Unlike Louisa, Sissy has children, and grows ?learned in childish lore; thinking no innocent and pretty fancy ever to be despised; trying hard to know her humbler fellow creatures, and to beautify their lives . with imaginative graces and delights? (Dickens 222). Sissy, therefore, seems to break the Gradgrind system to which the other characters succumb. She alters the ?rigid polarities of fact and fancy? (Carr 452), proving that a woman can succeed; this, in turn, makes her an outsider in the bleak world of the Gradgrinds. [...]

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