Unveiling Feminist Perspectives in Classic English Literature

Unveiling Feminist Perspectives in Classic English Literature

Ms.Geetika Khatri 

Assistant Professor, School of Languages,

Literature & Society Jaipur National University, Jaipur, India


The depiction of women in classic English literature, which is respected for its timeless narratives and deep observations about human psychology, frequently becomes the subject of criticism within the literary world. On the other hand, a more in-depth investigation shows that these books include feminist perspectives that are both subtle and not-so-subtle. In this blog, we will explore the feminist undertones that are present in classic English literature. Today, these topics have become an indomitable part of students of Masters in English Literature.

The Brontë Sisters:

● It is notoriously known that the Victorian period was characterized by the imposition of suffocating restraints on women and the rigidity of gender roles.

● However, despite the repressive environment, the Brontë sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, emerged as pioneers in the field of literature.

● They wove stories that challenged the accepted notions of gender, which has remained a crucial topic for MA in English Literature.

● In Charlotte Brontë's novel "Jane Eyre," the heroine, who bears the title of the novel, defies the traditional standards that limit women to duties of subservience.

● Jane is not a passive observer; rather, she expresses her independence and pursues equality throughout the process.

● Her bold assertion that she does not want to be defined exclusively by her gender resonates with the goals of the feminist movement.

● The novel "Wuthering Heights" written by Emily Brontë begins with the introduction of Catherine Earnshaw, a heroine whose complexity goes beyond the conventional gender roles.

● Catherine defies the expectations of society by choosing to pursue her interests and pursuing her passions. She has established her eminence among the students of MA in English Literature and remains under discussion.

Jane Austen: Satirical Feminism in Regency England

During the period known as the Regency, Jane Austen used sarcasm and irony to attack the restrictions that were imposed on women. Although her works may seem to be about courting and marriage, a more in-depth examination uncovers a subtle subversion of the expectations that society places on its members.

● In "Pride and Prejudice," Elizabeth Bennet stands out as a woman who was ahead of her time in terms of her feminist beliefs.

● The prevalent belief that a woman's value is completely dependent on her potential for marriage is challenged by Elizabeth's unwillingness to marry for the sake of convenience and her unwavering focus on marrying for love.

● Through the character of Elizabeth, Austen offers a criticism of the pressure that society places on women to adhere to conventional ideals and to compromise their pleasure.

Another one of Austen's classics, "Emma," has a heroine who, differently, opposes the conventional gender norms that have been established. Even though she initially embodies the rich and sheltered lady of her period, Emma Woodhouse goes through substantial character growth during the story. To illustrate that women are not static beings but are capable of expanding beyond the expectations of society, Emma becomes a symbol of progress and self-discovery as she learns from her errors and grows as a person.

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein": A Feminist Reworking of the Promethean Myth

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" presents a feminist reinterpretation of the Promethean myth, although it is sometimes eclipsed by its association with horror. A striking illustration of the objectification of women is provided by the figure of Victor Frankenstein's wife, who is not given a name throughout the book.

● Within the narrative of Shelley, the repercussions of lowering women to the status of simple objects of desire are confronted.

● The bride, who was conceived of as a companion for the Creature, functions as a criticism of Victor's desire to exert control and influence over the feminine form. Shelley criticizes the dehumanization of women, which prompts readers to consider the expectations of society as well as the implications of objectifying women in literature and real life.


There are hidden jewels of feminist ideas that question societal conventions that may be found in classic English literature, even though it is often attacked for the way it portrays women. These works provide complex insights into the trials and successes of women throughout history. Therefore, these topics are handpicked for inclusion in the Masters in English Literature. From the defiant heroines of the Brontë sisters to Jane Austen's satirical criticism of marital expectations and Mary Shelley's reinvention of the Promethean myth, these works provide a wide range of perspectives.

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