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Discuss how successful the first four chapters are as an opening to the novel Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights'.

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Introduction

Taking special note of AO1 and AO3, Discuss how successful the first four chapters are as an opening to the novel. Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights' is a novel, told in a sequence of narratives, which are themselves told to the narrator, a gentlemen named Lockwood. Lockwood, a self-described misanthropist, rents Thrushcross Grange in Yorkshire and progressively learns the history of two neighbouring families. The first four chapters reveal the prime events which lead to Heathcliff living alone in Wuthering Heights, almost 'completely removed from the stir of society' and are the introduction to the opening of the story. Almost immediately, Lockwood, as the framing narrator effectively fails to engage our confidence in his narration, through his inquisitive, presumptuous and self assured manner, when he arrives, uninvited, at his landlord's estate. He is so eager to please Heathcliff, and believes they are 'a suitable pair to divide the desolution' that he doesn't realise at first that Heathcliff 'evidently wished no repetition of...intrusion.' Lockwood's encounter with Heithcliff stresses the contrasts of conventions, this depicted particularly at the start of the second chapter, where 'the housekeeper...would not comprehend my request that I might be served at five,' He doesn't seem to embrace the life out in the moors and is bound by time and routine. ...read more.

Middle

The mood throughout the first few chapters is ominous and Lockwood's 'sociable' character places him on dangerous ground. He is attacked by Heithcliff's 'herd of possessed swine' that inhabit the bare and old-fashioned rooms and when called for help, it is implied that Lockwood had tried to steal something, 'They won't meddle with persons who touch nothing'. The same threatening aura is created when Joseph knows that Lockwood is not stealing the lantern on his way home, but still sets the dogs on him. 'Maister, maister, he's staling t'lantern!' Almost all the characters that Lockwood encounters are associated with animal imagery especially Heathcliff, who 'growled...in unison' with his own dogs and his daughter-in-law who 'never opened her mouth. I stared - she stared also.' It is symbolic that when Heathcliff arrives at the Heights as a child he is referred to as 'it' This is a further extention of the metaphor of a dog and even in retrospect when Nelly Dean, a servant to the household, is telling stories of the past, she refers to Heathcliff as 'it'. There are no scenes of happiness and the only pleasure exhibited is that of Heathcliff's where Lockwood's 'agitation brought on a copious bleeding at the nose, and still Heathcliff laughed.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Her story does much to establish the relationships of the characters. Nelly is close in body but distanced in position from the events she relates, and while she is affectionate she is also judgemental, thus inviting us to participate in or reject her opinions. She explains the conflict between Hindley and Heathcliff and reveals the affectionate relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff. The three children she describes are versions of the adults they are in the previous chapters. As readers we become more aware and understanding of Heathcliff's present character. The first four chapters of the novel establish a sense of mystery that should keep the audience interested and attentive. The change of narrators gives the book a new outlook or perspective and there is a focus on Catherine's relationship with Heathcliff. The opening of the novel is the beginning of a story that weaves a complex pattern of contrasts within themes that appear later on in the novel and are not so clear at the beginning. The theme of love is introduced to the novel although a supernatural and ominous feel remains. The opening chapters are successful in engaging the reader with its many interpretations and symbolism, especially in chapter 3 where the ghost of Catherine Linton is not perhaps simply a figment of Lockwood's imagination. The novel will only appeal to those who find the opening of it likeable and worth reading. ...read more.

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