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Discuss the importance of the two extracts from Chapters 4 and 26 and how they develop the reader's opinion of Heathcliff.

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Introduction

Discuss the importance of the two extracts from Chapters 4 and 26 and how they develop the reader's opinion of Heathcliff. These two extracts are important in terms of the way Heathcliff is presented. They come from very different stages in the novel and are both narrated by Nelly, making the text very biased. The extract from Chapter 4 recalls Heathcliff's arrival at Wuthering Heights and shows the way he is treated. The extract from Chapter 26 is an account of Catherine and Nelly's meeting with Heathcliff's son Linton, on the moors by Wuthering Heights. This extract is particularly important as it suggest the way Heathcliff is supposedly treating Linton and how this features in his revenge and retaliation towards him. The audience is not given Heathcliff's perspective and he remains an enigmatic figure throughout the play. When the audience is introduced to Heathcliff for the first time in Chapter 4, the Earnshaw household immediately rejects him. Racial slurs are often thrown at Heathcliff by people who respond to him in a negative way because of the way he looks, such as 'ploughboy' and 'gypsy boy.' As soon as Heathcliff is brought to Wuthering Heights, Catherine, Hindley and Mrs Earnshaw are against the 'street child.' Nelly's narration is not impartial as she is describing events that occurred twenty years previously and she does not like Heathcliff. ...read more.

Middle

Heathcliff's first night at Wuthering Heights is very unpleasant, as Cathy, who is angry that her father had lost her whip due to Heathcliff, spits him on, showing his orphan status is not considered. Nelly continues to show her derogatory nature towards Heathcliff when she calls him a 'stupid little thing', which shows Cathy's dominance and control. Mr Earnshaw then hits Cathy 'earning for her pains a sound blow from her father' which shows the divisions created by Heathcliff, after he is brought into the household. At this point in the chapter, the reader sympathises with Heathcliff, however they are aware the trouble that he has caused. For example, Nelly being chucked out of the house because of the way she treats him. Heathcliff's position within the family is confirmed as an additional child who has not adopted the Earnshaw surname. The name 'Heathcliff' even seems to put him outside of society and separates him from the main core of the Earnshaw family, as it is neither a Christian name nor a surname, but substitutes for either. Nelly describes how no one stood up for Heathcliff 'mistress never put in a word on his behalf when she saw him wronged', which makes the reader feel sorry for Heathcliff, as no one is going to help him. At the end of this extract, there is a very derogatory view of Heathcliff from Nelly's narration, with the way she has described him and made ...read more.

Conclusion

Ultimately, others are forming the most important opinions of Heathcliff and we do not have a chance to hear Heathcliff for himself. The reader is unsure whether to believe if Heathcliff is really treating Linton badly, or whether this is just Nelly's biased opinion coming through in the text. All of the information in this Chapter is derived from two people who do not like Heathcliff, which makes the chapter description of Heathcliff very unreliable. In conclusion, our opinion of Heathcliff is very clouded due to the way the story is told and who it is told by. The two extracts are important but ultimately, the account provided and the lack of impartiality is significant, as the reader is unsure whether to take Nelly's viewpoint. Most of the events in the whole novel are narrated in Nelly's voice, from Nelly's point of view, focusing only on what Nelly can see and hear, or what she an find out about indirectly. This is a key factor, which may affect the way in which the reader judges Heathcliff in these two chapters, as the narrator is biased. The reader is sympathetic towards Heathcliff, but we are also conscious of the fact that he is no worse than any other character in the novel. In some ways, the two extracts form more what Nelly is like as a person and therefore the two extracts do not develop the reader's opinion of Heathcliff in a fair way. ...read more.

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