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An analysis of the way in which Emily Bronte introduces the character Heathcliff to the reader in her novel, 'Wuthering Heights'.

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Introduction

An analysis of the way in which Emily Bronte introduces the character Heathcliff to the reader in her novel, 'Wuthering Heights'. Emily Bronte's novel 'Wuthering Heights' is full of atmosphere and mystery, most of which is caused by the protagonist Heathcliff. Powerful and brooding, Heathcliff forms the central pillar of intrigue in this famous story. He unites the fragmented narration by being present throughout, unlike all other characters and is such a potent and intense creation the reader is unable to fail to be moved by him. One either feels repulsion towards him or is seduced by his rather crude and brutish manner. To emphasise Heathcliff's importance in the novel Bronte introduces him three times, an unusual technique that immediately catches the reader's attention. Even more unusually the introductions of Heathcliff do not happen in chronological order, it is actually the opposite. We first see him as an embittered adult, then as a love struck teenager and finally as a child. This builds the cloud of mystery around the character by not revealing him all at once but rather giving us tantalising snippets of his past which make the reader want to read on to discover who he is. Somewhat frustratingly, we never find out everything about Heathcliff. We never find out where he is from or where he goes during the story. But the writer's method of introduction is undoubtedly effective in engaging and sustaining the interest of the reader. Bronte uses unimportant and trivial characters to relate the story instead of using her own voice. This colours the narrative with the opinions of the characters being used at the time and adds interest. It also allows the reader to see how the actions of those in the story are judged by those around them instead of getting the self-centred approach that first person narrative would have. The first narrator in 'Wuthering Heights', Lockwood, is a newcomer to the area who has no impact on the story and no previous knowledge of ...read more.

Middle

The reader wonders why the writer's name is written with three different surnames. The narration begins when Lockwood flicks to a page that has been written on and reads. We then discover the teenage Heathcliff. The narrator we discover is a young girl, and the reader trusts her to some degree because although she is biased towards her friend, Heathcliff, the diary is for her eyes only, so she is being completely honest with herself. She also evokes sympathy when she cries for Heathcliff, and the reader finds her loyalty and love for her companion touching. The passage that Lockwood reads, one he selects at random, tells of a Sunday at Wuthering Heights some time ago. Within the first few lines he discovers that Heathcliff was badly treated, 'Hindley's conduct to Heathcliff is atrocious', which shows that the subject is important to Catherine because it is one of the first things she writes. The house at this point is under the rule of Hindley, Catherine's brother, and his wife, and we are told that Catherine's father is already dead. This helps the reader develop a sense of chronology, because with the strange order of the narration it is easy to get lost. It soon becomes obvious that there is a close bond between Heathcliff and Catherine and there is a description of them escaping the other people in the house and making a den together, 'We made ourselves as snug as our means allowed in the arch of the dresser.' But they do not stay long because Joseph, the old servant Lockwood had already met, finds them and they get into trouble. We then see a side of Heathcliff that is rather unexpected, a playful, mischievous side. He suggests to Catherine that they should take the dairywoman's cloak and, 'Have a scamper on the moors, under its shelter'. This is the only time we see Heathcliff in such an innocent way. ...read more.

Conclusion

He persisted in blackmailing Hindley until he lashed out and threw an iron weight at his chest and then gave in and shouted, 'Take him and be damned, you beggarly interloper! And wheedle my father out of all he has: only afterwards, show him what you are, imp of Satan.' This outburst sums up everything Hindley feels about Heathcliff, but he is unaffected. Indeed even after Hindley kicks his feet from under him, he just gets up and continues moving saddles. This shows his determination that he will achieve what he wants to. Mrs. Dean's narration forms the rest of 'Wuthering Heights' as she tells Lockwood what has happened before his arrival at Thrushcross Grange. She is the most reliable of all the narrators as commented on by Lockwood who calls her a, 'worthy woman'. She was also there at the time of the events she is talking about, but wasn't directly involved in them so isn't biased like Catherine's diary which was in favour of Heathcliff. As a servant, Mrs. Dean's opinions are also down to earth and trustworthy, though she does reveal an alliance with the Lintons gradually through 'Wuthering Heights'. In conclusion, I think that the beginning of 'Wuthering Heights' and the introduction of Heathcliff by Emily Bronte are successful. The use of different narrators adds interest and gives several opinions of the characters, so that the reader can form their own opinions. By introducing Heathcliff backwards, first as an adult, then as a teenager and finally as a child she creates a mysterious air around him, and not revealing his entire history just adds to this. The use of Wuthering Heights to reflect him is another technique she uses and gives us a real idea of the depth of his personality and the many layers that make up his character. Finally, by using voices to tell the story and using the speech that they would use she gives the narration a warm, trustful feel, all of which amount to a very successful opening to the book that brims with passion and mystery. ...read more.

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