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Why do you think Emily Bronte employs the device of multiple narrators in Wuthering Heights? How effective do you find these?

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Introduction

Why do you think Emily Bronte employs the device of multiple narrators in Wuthering Heights? How effective do you find these? In Wuthering Heights there are obvious narrators, Lockwood and Nelly Dean, in addition to them there are other narratives interspersed throughout the novel. Having different narrators means the reader can view the situations through a series of eyewitness accounts from characters who have played a part in what they describe. This choice of narration means that Emily Bronte can keep a continuous narrative, despite the huge time-shifts involved in the story. Lockwood's narrative is the outer framework of the novel. He is then present as Nelly tells her story of the Heights and the Grange. Also Nelly is the recipient of smaller narratives by other characters like Zilla and Isabella. Nelly's Narration is so dramatised, and there is so much direct speech it is almost in the form of a tertiary narration, for example the conversation involving Heathcliff, Catherine and Edgar on Heathcliff's return is told in the exact words of the three characters. ...read more.

Middle

The opening chapters narrated by Lockwood give the reader an introduction to early 19th century life. The style of Lockwood's narration is in that of a diary, which allows the reader to understand the story with intimacy and from a supposedly impartial character. Lockwood is intelligent and perceptive, and pays a lot of attention to detail, when he first visited the Heights he noted the chained gate, while at the end of the novel when he returns to find Heathcliff dead, he notices "Both doors and lattices were open". With his attention to detail, character differences are noticed in Lockwood, Cathy was once described as "the little witch", later she has "a voice as sweet as a silver bell". Hareton is described in one of the opening chapters by Lockwood as a bore and a clown and by the end of the novel he has become "a young man respectably dressed" with "handsome features", therefore fulfilling his role as an detached outsider, bringing dimension to the novel, which is quite different from the perceptions of Nelly. ...read more.

Conclusion

The multiple narratives from Catherine, Nelly and Lockwood allow Emily Bronte to jump from present to past. Nelly's story is studded with dates, which allows us to work out precise dates and ages of characters. The order of events structures the time scale, allowing events such as Heathcliff opening Catherine's coffin to happen later on in the novel. The series of events and the timescale used, particularly with Catherine dying in the middle of the book and Heathcliff dying at the end suggest that the novel was structured around revenge not love, the theme Wuthering Heights is generally associated with. If it weren't for the two narrators Nelly and Lockwood there would be no point in the story of Catherine and Heathcliff, then Catherine and Hareton being told. Emily Bronte's use of multiple narrators allows the reader to understand the story from numerous perspectives and gives the story more dimensions than it otherwise may have had. I think the device of multiple narrators has worked, although the narrators and time-scale may appear confusing, I think it is essential for the story to be told in the effective way it has been by Bronte. ...read more.

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