Written when gender roles were far more rigid and defined than they are now, Wuthering Heights examines stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. Emily Brontë constantly contrasts 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. 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 favor 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 Catherines, and Hareton, with compassion and admiration, despite their flaws.